O'Fallon Progress

Sugarfire Smoke House coming to O’Fallon

An artist’s rendering of the new Sugarfire Smoke House barbecue restaurant planning in O’Fallon.
An artist’s rendering of the new Sugarfire Smoke House barbecue restaurant planning in O’Fallon.

Sugarfire Smoke House, a nationally recognized St. Louis barbecue operation, plans to open in O’Fallon.

“It’s very exciting. It’s great for the city, and we expect that they will be very busy,” said Ted Shekell, the city of O’Fallon’s community development director. “O’Fallon has had a good history with barbecue restaurants, as we had Super Smokers and 17th Street here before.”

The O’Fallon City Council advanced the Green Mount Development Group proposal at its July 3 meeting, with final approval set for July 17.

City Administrator Walter Denton said Sugarfire will attract more visitors to the city because of its national reputation.

“It will be a destination. This will be a welcome addition to O’Fallon,” Denton said.

The 3,800-square-foot restaurant, to be constructed at 1405 Green Mount Road, will be the company’s first metro-east location. They currently have six others.

Sugarfire is an award-winning restaurant known for its succulent brisket, pulled pork and ribs, as well as its signature sandwiches and sides.

Megan Brown, company spokesperson

Master chef Mike Johnson and partner Christina Fitzgerald are among the O’Fallon ownership team, their spokesperson, Megan Brown of Green Olive Media, said.

“Sugarfire is an award-winning restaurant known for its succulent brisket, pulled pork and ribs, as well as its signature sandwiches and sides that shine light on Johnson’s dynamic capacity,” Brown said. “With six locations (and counting), Sugarfire has consistently been ranked best barbecue in St. Louis, and Johnson continues to establish himself as culinary master and renowned competitor.”

Sugarfire opened in Olivette, Mo., in 2012, and has since expanded on the west side of the Mississippi to downtown St. Louis, St. Charles, Valley Park, Washington, and O’Fallon, Mo.

The company also recently announced plans to open in Indianapolis, Ind., this fall and in Farmington, Mo. Plans for other state locations are also in the works.

As for an O’Fallon, Ill., opening date, that has yet to be set, as both the city and company must finalize plans.

“We can’t confirm a date, but we think it will be before the end of the year. They would like to be in before the holidays,” Shekell said.

Developer Scott Plocher of Highland requested a revised planned use for space on the north parking lot of the Green Mount Professional Building, known as the Blade Building, in May.

It will be a destination. This will be a welcome addition to O’Fallon.

Walter Denton, O’Fallon city administrator

Last month, the Planning Commission approved the project on the northwest corner of Green Mount and Regency Park, and agreed to the staff’s recommendations to make sure parking does not become a problem. The developer has an alternative parking plan for 236 spaces.

If more parking is needed, the developers will be required to construct 24 additional spaces on the Dewey’s Pizza site.

A national reputation

Sugarfire has garnered national attention. Both Johnson and Fitzgerald have a fine dining background. He has appeared on the Food Network shows “Beat Bobby Flay,” “BBQ Pitmasters” and Michael Symon’s “Burgers, Brew and ‘Que.” She competed on Season 11 of “Food Network Star.”

The couple met after her show. “Together, they now have five children, seven restaurants, two very large dogs and a lot of love,” Brown said.

A native St. Louisan, Johnson began his chef career working in New Orleans with up-and-coming Emeril Lagasse in 1989. He gained more fine dining expertise at Charlie Trotter’s landmark restaurant in Chicago, and in France and Napa Valley, among other hot spots.

O’Fallon has had a good history with barbecue restaurants.

Ted Shekell, O’Fallon community development director

He returned home and opened several popular restaurants, including Café Mira, BARcelona tapas restaurant in Clayton, Mo., and Boogaloo’s in Maplewood, Mo., which specialized in Cajun/Creole/Cuban cuisine.

In addition, he has partnered with chef/baker/owner Carolyn Downs of Sugarfire Pie and Cyrano’s.

Last winter, Johnson and Fitzgerald opened the Hi-Pointe Drive-In. They have served as celebrity guests and competed in such events as Hogs for the Cause, the Perth Yak Ales BBQ Competition, Australia’s Meatstock, The Kansas City Royal, Charleston Wine & Food Festival, Memphis in May and the World Food Championship.

“You can often catch a glimpse of their playful, yet competitive banter on regular segments of ‘Show Me St. Louis,’ or at many of the circuit barbecue competitions nationwide and abroad,” Brown said. “A fierce competitor with a wild sense of humor and big heart, Christina brings the sweet and the heat to Sugarfire Smoke House.”

More development expected on Green Mount

Plans to utilize St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, which is currently under construction, as an economic engine for economic development have been working, Denton said.

“So far, it’s doing what we wanted it to,” he said. “When the hospital opens on Nov. 4, it will employ 1,300 people. In addition, the adjacent medical office building will house private doctor offices and clinics. It is estimated that 250,000 people will visit the hospital each year. Green Mount is the hot place for development, which means job creation, tax revenue and benefits for the community.”

But even with the hospital not open yet, the city has seen the effects. The Blade building opened last year and is fully leased. In addition to offices, it includes the restaurant 1818 Chophouse.

Tim Horton’s and Reliance Bank are also open.

Construction is underway for a new Marriott Town Place Suites hotel and a Dewey’s Pizza restaurant.

O’Fallon will be the seventh Dewey’s in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The upscale pizzeria, which opened in Kirkwood, Mo., in 2004, has locations in Edwardsville, as well as Missouri in Ellisville, University City, Webster Groves and St. Charles. The O’Fallon site will be the largest one at 4,600-square-feet.

See Sugarfire chef on TV

For more information on the Sugarfire founder, you can see Master chef Mike Johnson on Food Network reruns this month, including the following:

▪  “Country Boys in the Big City,” the episode of “Beat Bobby Flay” Johnson was on last November, will air at 3:30 p.m. July 22 and 2:30 p.m. July 23.

▪  The “Burgers, Brew and ’Que” episode, “Meat, Meat and More Meat,” from the show’s second season, will air again on July 29 at 3:30 a.m. and Aug. 12 at 3 a.m. It features Johnson making Sugarfire’s super-sized sandwich called, The Big Muddy.