Hi-Pointe Drive-In will launch compact A Little Hi concept in Ballwin this fall
Hi-Pointe Drive-In is introducing a simplified take on its original concept with a new restaurant brand, A Little Hi. A Little Hi will offer only burgers, fries and shakes, with the first location slated to open in the former P’sghetti’s space at 15069 Manchester Road in Ballwin in late September or early October.
At 2,000 square feet, A Little Hi will be around half the size of Hi-Pointe’s four existing locations. The simplified menu requires less equipment and a smaller footprint in terms of kitchen and storage space. The restaurant will seat around 20 diners inside and at least 20 more on the patio.
Co-owner Ben Hillman said that one of the ideas behind A Little Hi was that with a smaller menu the restaurant could maximize efficiency and consistency of service. “The biggest challenge we have with Hi-Pointe Drive-In as a concept is it's such an expansive, creative menu that speed of service is hard,” he said. “This is a much more fast-casual concept that can be executed a lot easier, so we expect that we'll be able to half our ticket times and it'll just be a more convenient, simplified version of a full Hi-Pointe Drive-In.”
The emphasis at A Little Hi will be on the core Hi-Pointe offerings of burgers, fries and shakes. Hi-Pointe menu items that will transfer to the menu at A Little Hi will include the restaurant’s signature smash burgers, built from a blend of chuck, brisket and short rib, and the Frisco melt. A significant portion of the Hi-Pointe Drive-In menu will not be offered at A Little Hi, including sandwiches, most salads, and sides like mac and cheese.
While the menu will be smaller, Hillman said A Little Hi’s burger selection will remain true to the creativity and embrace of experimentation that Hi-Pointe has reveled in since its inception in 2017. “We’re not losing the creativity,” he said. “We’re looking at adding a couple new fun burgers too,” Hillman said. “We like to have more fun than just American cheese, pickles and lettuce.” One of Hi-Pointe’s chefs, Dontay Sanders, is moving over to A Little Hi to head up the creation of daily specials and other kitchen operations, while Emily Killian will be general manager at the new restaurant. Both Sanders and Killian are original Hi-Pointe team members who have been with the company for over five years.
Hillman said the Hi-Pointe team has been looking at opening a restaurant in the Ballwin area for around a year, but matching the A Little Hi concept to the Manchester Road space had been a happy accident that came together unexpectedly quickly. “We were talking about the idea of finding a small restaurant, and then within a week we randomly drove by and saw that the space was available,” he said. “The kitchen and layout and location were perfect for the idea of A Little Hi.”
For Hillman and business partners Charlie Downs and Mike Johnson, the long-term plan is to expand both Hi-Pointe Drive-In and A Little Hi to new locations. “We want to be more flexible,” Hillman said. “We want to be able to go into a new neighborhood or area and either open A Little Hi or a full Hi-Pointe depending on what space is available, how big the space is and how big the community is.”
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