|St. Joe gets a new steakhouse, Brazilian-style|
We know what you're thinking: St. Joseph?
One of the developers of the new restaurant, Kenny O'Mara, has heard all the naysayers too: "Yes, I've heard people say that Em Chamas is too expensive for St. Joseph, that this city doesn't have the right demographics for an upscale restaurant, that it shouldn't be downtown. But we think it's going to be a success."
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The building that houses the new Em Chamas once held a drug store and a music business on the first floor (the original tile floors are intact) and a bowling alley on the second, which has been transformed into another dining area. There had been, in more recent years, a nightclub on the third floor; Silvio and Argentinian chef Tomas DiGregorio would like to put an outdoor deck on this floor and maybe a nightclub.
|Em Chamas bartenders Vic Rodriguez and Ryan Scroggins|
In the main dining area, the ironwork near the staircases still boast the musical clef notes from the Eshelman Music Store, once an important retail shop in downtown St. Joseph. "This building is amazingly well-built," said Kenny O'Mara, who likes to show off the striking tilework in the basement, the arches in the thick brick walls, and the cast-iron columns up on the second floor. "Half of this building survived a terrible fire in 1960," he said, "but so many original details survived."
When this new Em Chamas restaurant opens next week, it will be the only upscale restaurant in St. Joseph and one of the few dining venues in the city's downtown, which still boasts the glorious Missouri Theater movie palace -- now a live entertainment venue -- but a lot of vacant buildings dating back to the glory days of this town, which was once a rival to Kansas City as a cosmopolitan community.