well met cafe photo by michelle volansky

First Look: Well Met Cafe in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis

The team behind Polite Society and The Bellwether have opened a new cafe just north of Tower Grove Park at 4100 Shenandoah Ave. Brian Schmitz and Jonathan Schoen, along with beverage director Travis Hebrank (co-owners of Be Polite Hospitality), have picked a good spot to deliver another warm and comfortable gathering space – their signature brand – to a wider audience. Well Met Cafe, which opened May 1, occupies a former gallery space where Shenandoah and Thurman avenues meet. Consequently, the cafe is pleasant and bright – a nice place to find oneself for breakfast, lunch, cocktails and dinner. Or all four.

Almost more striking than the snowy banquettes, the number of succulents  and the light which floods in, is the menu board. It really isn’t a board at all, but four big television screens turned upwise. It’s hard to fathom how to get a sequential list of things to eat across four different TVs. But Well Met Cafe has managed it – with one snag: It has four different remotes and they've already lost one. That tech challenge aside, the menu looks delicious. Paninis are the main squeezes here: dreamy combos like bacon, brie and apricot jam (the Sara Conner) or turkey, fig aioli and gorgonzola (the Axel Foley). But fresh salads are available, as well.

Manager Grayson Smith said the names of menu items are loosely linked by  “pop culture.” Since the “Claire Huxtable” (a panini with turkey bacon, provolone, marinated tomato and avocado) shares space with one called “Marcus Aurelius,” (a Caesar salad), we see why he said “loose.”

As for the beverage program, Smith said it’s still in the early stages, but the cafe likely will lean away from Californian wines toward a more varied selection coming from vineyards in France and Greece, among other regions. When it comes to cocktails, the menu will be “well thought out.” 

“This is going to be a neighborhood gem,” Smith said.

As a rainy spring turns to summer, it’s good to know that Well Met Cafe will happily pack a “Meal Basket” to go for anyone heading to the park. Customers may also furnish their own from the cooler where picnic materials like street corn, and pasta and potato salads are ready and waiting. Supplement those with some juicy-looking baked goods on the counter, and you’ve got yourself a dejeuner sur l’herbe.

Well Met Cafe amounts to a 700-square-foot space which seats 20 people, with another 12 on the deck (close to completion) out front. It is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.