Three Monkeys owners back in business with Black Sheep Whiskey & Wine and pizza concept Three Little Monkeys

When most restaurants closed during the pandemic, their owners were just excited to reopen the spaces as they were. Not Mary and Zach Rice, who closed their popular Morgan Ford restaurant Three Monkeys early in the pandemic; now, 19 months later, they’ve plotted a transformation that will see two completely new concepts. Black Sheep Whiskey & Wine will open in early November at 3153 Morgan Ford Road (the old Three Monkeys space), and pizzeria Three Little Monkeys will open down the street next year.  

“It’s just really scary to close down your place, but I think it was the right decision to take time to reinvigorate everything,” Mary said. “I think that coming back on the other side, we’ll have some really great things to offer.” Zach added, “We’ve been blown away by the amount of support that we’ve gotten from our neighbors. There’s not competition on Morgan Ford – we’re all friends here.”  

Black Sheep Whiskey & Wine will, on the one hand, be exactly what it sounds like: a nighttime spot for wine, whiskey, snacks and a great vibe. Mary said they’re aiming to have around 100 wines and 100 whiskeys, while food will include shareables like cheese plates, flatbreads and entrees; eventually, the evening menu will expand a bit.  

“We put a lot of work into finding wines that are a really big deal,” Zach said. “We’ll have some of the cabernets you see in steakhouses, but we want to focus on the smaller wines that you won’t find in corporate restaurants or Schnucks.” As far as whiskey goes, flights will be on the docket, as will a menu full of cocktails.  

But during the day, Black Sheep will offer something else entirely: For brunch and lunch, the dining room will open as Mama 2’s Biscuits. “It’s named after a grandmotherly figure in my life, who made the best biscuits I’ve ever had. We’re doing it as an homage to all the grandfathers and grandmothers in our lives who kept us fed,” Zach said. “It has that comfort feel to it.” He added that while Black Sheep will be open initially three nights a week, Mama 2’s Biscuits will open for brunch Thursday through Monday. “We started doing an industry brunch on Mondays,” Zach explained, regarding Three Monkeys’ popular institution. “We’d get huge groups of people from restaurants coming in. Drinks, fun food, specials. We’ll be bringing that back too.”  

Next year, down the street, the Rices will open Three Little Monkeys at 3172 Morgan Ford, a pizza concept with retro vibes that aims to bring the most popular dishes from Three Monkeys into a new arena. “What did Three Monkeys do really well?” Zach posed. “Pizza, wings, nachos. We thought, 'We don’t really want to lose that, and we know that people are going to want to see those things.’” Three Little Monkeys is set to be a fast-casual spot where customers can stop in for a slice or stay and order a whole ’za. “I think that this restaurant will allow us to be a little more playful,” Zach said. “And a little more dynamic in the cocktail menu.” Mary pointed out that Three Little Monkeys should be open next spring if everything goes according to plan.