Nexus Cultural Cuisine & Craft Cocktails to debut in Midtown later this year

In January 2020, when Misha Sampson and Ceaira Jackson left their positions at Bait Restaurant in the Central West End, Sampson said GDT that they “had things in the works” and that they “would certainly be working on another brick and mortar again”.

A year and a half later, those plans are coming to fruition. This week, the duo announced Nexus Cultural Cuisine & Craft Cocktails, slated to open in late fall or early winter at 2704 Locust in Midtown.

The name has several meanings, according to Sampson and Jackson (who are called Misha K and Chef Jack). The nickname collectively means a gathering place, the central core, a place where “people of all cultures can enjoy cuisine from all cultures,” they explain. The location is in a trio of buildings on the corner of Locust and Beaumont, one block north of Beffa and three blocks east of Egg, Fountain on Locust, Small Batch and Brennan’s Work & Leisure.

Nexus is the culmination of the duo’s past successes. Readers will likely remember Fleur de Lilies, a Creole fusion restaurant that has managed to strike a balance between casual and fine dining. The okra combination (on the picture on the right) and the shrimp smother were outstanding, and the Foster Banana French Toast was Sunday morning decay.

Sampson and Jackson were part of Bait’s opening squad (as GM and Chief, respectively) and aided in his rapid rise to fame. GDT Food critic Dave Lowry described it this way in an article titled “Favorite Dining Moments in Saint-Louis in 2020”: “Like the atmosphere, the cuisine is quality, with plenty of seafood presented in an imaginative way, including our swirling pasta meal with scallops, crab, and squid ink shrimp. (He could also have mentioned the lobster fries, the alligator tacos, or the Flaming Wicked Prawns, which were the three.)

During the pandemic, Sampson and Jackson launched Culture Food Group, a series of pop-up dinners and take-out meals (Taco Tuesday, Bayou Wednesday, BBQ Thursday, Fish Friday), which spawned a range of spices, a book electronic cooking of dishes and cocktails, and catering meals. The couple hosted the popular Dinner with Friends in Their Loft series, all with a cultural theme, from “Caribbean Night” to “Elevated Street Food”.

Nexus will build on all of the duo’s experiences over the past few years. The cross-cultural menu is based on feedback from dinners and curbside events. “We narrowed it down to the things people really enjoyed,” Sampson says. The menu will focus on small plates. “Our formula is to pay homage to each culture but to serve everything in a Spanish tapas-style setting” – or, as Sampson says, “a round the world tapas style”.

Look for authentic dishes, infused with “mom and pop influenced flavors,” according to Jackson, “and premium presentation, because I just can’t do it any other way. “

The inaugural menu – and possible additions – will be determined by the vendors, written around what’s available. “We know what we would do As to serve, but we’re not married to any particular item at this point, ”Jackson says. Sampson’s okra (made from his great-aunt Maybelle’s recipe), Korean baby back ribs, plenty of seafood and homemade desserts are on the “hopeful” list.

“The pandemic has taught us a lot,” says Sampson. “As traditional restaurateurs we have always had a plan B, but now we are forced to consider a plan C and D,” referring to the built-in models for off-site pickup, delivery and catering.

Physically, the space is divided into three rooms, with the bar in front and two dining rooms at the back. The architectural details (terracotta arches, multiple fireplaces, original brick walls) will be preserved. A covered courtyard with fans and radiators is under construction at the rear (on the photo on the right).

Expect to see a mix of bar seating, sofas, chandeliers, large open windows, and greenery inside and out, echoing the sage color of the logo. Hasina Starks of Hasina Design will lead the interior finishes. Sampson sees the space as modern and welcoming, “like a restaurant / bar in a boutique hotel.

Jassen Johnson, owner of Tower Real Estate Group, is spearheading the development, which consists of several plots on the corner of Locust and Beaumont. Link (2704 Desert Locust) will occupy the middle space.

A ping-pong room is planned for a plot and an Airbnb will occupy the space adjacent to the Nexus (with its own dedicated entrance). Corner space (on the photo on the right) consists of three separate units that share the common patio with Nexus. (A cafe is already under construction.)

The area is part of the $ 70 million Jefferson Connector project, which will connect Midtown to the city center with new retail, offices, apartments and a hotel, largely driven by the future headquarters of the neighboring NGA West headquarters.

Sampson and Jackson are excited about the area and their first foray into restaurant ownership. In 2020, Jackson got a Phoenix tattoo. “It was my year – and our year – to rise again,” she says. “And we did.”

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