The puck drops today at Brett Hull’s Junction House in Wentzville.
The 9,400-square-foot, multi-level eating-and-drinking establishment is divided into three main areas: a restaurant, covered patio, and 1,500-square-foot open-air rooftop deck designed for year-round use. Each of these areas offers a full-service bar. The venue honors its namesake with displays of the hockey star’s photos and memorabilia.
After a quiet ribbon-cutting with city officials yesterday afternoon, Brett Hull sat at the bar and negotiated a Hullie’s #16 meatball (a one-pounder made with beef and pork, baked with housemade marinara, and topped with mozzarella and Provel), a creation of consulting chef Matt “Birk” Birkenmeier, whose company, 4400 Consulting Group LLC, helped conceive the broad menu. (Hull, a self-confessed meatball aficionado, later admitted that chef Birk’s meatball was the best he’d ever had.)
SLM spoke with the “Golden Brett” by phone on Thursday and discussed everything from COVID-19 to Código 1530, the tequila brand that he owns with George Strait and Barret Jackman, among others.
You helped introduce Código tequila to the area. What makes it different? It’s so good, so pure, made with 100 percent agave, with no age on the Blanco, a month of age in California cabernet barrels to give the Rosa its unique color, and charring the barrels to further age the reposado, anejo, and extra anejo.
I bet sales have increased over the past eight months. Like gangbusters. I’ll pick up The New York Times and do the crossword puzzle but hand it over to my wife to check out how Código’s stock is doing because that all looks like Chinese algebra to me. I was never any good at math. Even Sudoku escapes me.
Junction House isn’t your first foray into the local restaurant business. You had two restaurants here in the ’90s, one in Chesterfield and another at Union Station. You couldn’t even call it a foray. I didn’t have any vested interest. I was paid for the use of my name. I’d go there all the time to support them, showing up with friends after games, doing radio shows… It was a Pasta House company concept with my name on it.
I remember SLM writing a review of Brett Hull’s Restaurant & Grill in 1992. For one item, the copy read “and sharing it was as unlikely as a Bob Probert handshake.” [Laughs.] That had to be the famous boneless buffalo chicken tenders. We sold the hell out of those things.
Do you have any business interests besides Código and Junction House? What happened to Hully and Mo Restaurant & Tap Room? In 2008, Mike Modano and I were asked to put our name on a place in Dallas, but like many restaurants, Hully & Mo’s had issues from day one. It became a total gong show.
So how did the association with Junction House come about? Keith [Horneker] and I started talking about it two years ago, and I was like, “Ughhh, been there done that.” I told him if I was to get involved, it had to be done right, with great—not just good—food and a great atmosphere. He convinced me that’s what was going to happen, so I said, “Let’s do it.”
So the project was in motion before the pandemic. Long before. Then COVID hit, and we agreed that you can’t just shut down the world, so we proceeded with construction and now the opening. Where we live in Tennessee, I’ve supported local restaurants and businesses all through this thing. Both Keith and I have had COVID and we trust that people will know when to go out and when to stay home. The only thing that changed for me during COVID is that my wife now cuts my hair.
How’s that going? Good! I went the easiest way and asked for a mohawk. She takes the clipper, follows the line, and we’re done in 10 minutes.
Junction House has a massive footprint. Have you picked out a favorite spot yet—a ‘Brett’s booth’? I haven’t even seen it yet! Because of COVID, I haven’t really traveled at all. And I didn’t want some huge grand opening with people everywhere and the possibility of someone getting sick. We can do all that once there’s a vaccine and things start to return to normal. So we invited a few people and scheduled a quiet ribbon cutting. In the meantime, the place is big enough so when people come in, they’ll feel safe.
Your prior restaurants here were jam-packed with hockey and Blues memorabilia. For Junction House, did you just go down in your basement and start pulling out stuff? No, I got rid of it all! Every time we’d move, my wife reminded me that all it was doing was collecting dust, so it was given away and donated to auctions, and eventually it all disappeared. I’ve got replica cups and a few sticks here and there, but that’s it.
So when you get to the restaurant, you’ll be looking wide-eyed at all the memorabilia on the walls, just like the rest of us? Exactly right. Crazy but true.
Did you have any menu input? I see there’s a one-pound meatball with your name on it. No, I left that up to the chef team. They know that I wanted high-quality food, and that’s all the direction I gave them.
The menu is massive, as is the cocktail list. Some of the names are vaguely hockey-related: Blood Brothers, Gloria, Island of Misfits… Did you have any input there? [Laughs.] No, but I can relate.
There are 40 kinds of shots listed on that menu. The goal was for it to be high-end and high-class but fun.
How often do you plan to visit? Well, sporadically, until COVID passes. Then, hopefully, when hockey comes back, I’ll still be with the Blues, so I’ll be in town a lot more often.
Do you have other restaurant concepts in mind, or are you and your group thinking about doing more of Junction House locations? I believe in what Keith’s group is doing and how they operate. We’ll get this one going and maybe do a couple more.
St. Louisans will never forget the Blues’ wild ride to the Stanley Cup. How many times a day does someone come up to you and sing “Gloria”—or want you to sing “Gloria”? Now that I’m in Nashville, not as much. It still pops up in the media here now and then. Hey, if “Gloria” continues to make people happy, that’s fine with me.