The Top Chef alum is joining local restaurateurs Travis Howard and Tim Wiggins to open Yellowbelly this summer. 


Richard Blais is expanding his restaurant portfolio. The Top Chef winner, restaurateur, and cookbook author will parter in opening Yellowbelly, the highly anticipated second project from Retreat Gastropub team Travis Howard and Tim Wiggins, in St. Louis, MO, later this summer.

Opening in late August or early September, Yellowbelly will offer a seafood-driven menu and expansive craft cocktail program. As announced on Tuesday, Blais's restaurant consulting company, Trail Blais, will lead the vision for the restaurant's "sea and spirits" concept.

Blais, who is from New York originally, is excited to spend time in the Midwest. (He cites toasted ravioli as a motivating factor, which we deeply respect.)

"I love having the opportunity to explore new cities and markets," Blais tells Food & Wine. "St. Louis has really been on the map with great chefs winning big awards recently. The Midwest, in particular, is always a place where I get a lot of love, and I’m looking forward to reflecting that back on the community. Plus, toasted ravioli, frozen custard and the Cardinals..."

Howard, a longtime fan, had cold-emailed Blais about getting involved in the project, and it worked.

"I’ve always had a history and special relationship with seafood," Blais adds. "I’ve wanted to be a part of a fun, hip seafood project so the premise of Yellowbelly spoke to me right away."

Retreat Gastropub, which Howard and Wiggins opened in 2015, has been a mainstay in the city's Central West End neighborhood, serving modern pub fare and thoughtful cocktails that are regularly regarded as some of the best in the city.

Yellowbelly will seat 90 to 95 people, with an additional 40 seats outside, and the space will channel a "California coastal vibe," according to a press release. The seafood-focused menu will feature crudo and ceviche, as well as larger entrées and shared small plates.