Here's your sneak peek inside St. Kilda's new location in West Des Moines
Food aficionados will find an elevated dining experience with a modern, healthy vibe at this highly-anticipated restaurant in East Village Des Moines. Here's your first look at one of the hottest new restaurants in Des Moines in 2019. Wochit, Wochit
A new restaurant in West Des Moines is currently filling the empty shell of an old Ford dealership built in 1914.
St. Kilda Cafe & Bakery, located at 335 Fifth St., is set to open in the spring.
The concept will include a breakfast cafe and bakery, a bar, an upscale dining space with an open kitchen and a private event space.
"My goal is always to do the next restaurant better than the last one," said Alex Hall, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Whitney. "This is my dream restaurant. I spent 25 years to get to this point."
Rediscovery and relationships
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was originally a Ford dealership with a showroom in the front. Most recently, it housed a dance studio.
Built in 1914, an annex was added to the rear of the building three years later.
A few surprising discoveries were made throughout the renovation of the red brick skeleton, including original window spaces along the north wall, distressed brick elements, painted signage and original wood details. Many of the details will remain after the renovation's complete to add interest to the new space's design.
Due to age, some walls of the building needed to be reinforced with steel braces.
Tim Rypma of Des Moines-based Rypma Properties purchased the building in April with the intention of renovating the building for the Halls to the tune of $1.8 million. The Halls signed a 15-year lease.
"We have a great long-term relationship," Rypma said of the Halls. "And there is so much great energy in Valley Junction and we feel this will be a catalyst for the area. We can look at this area through a new lens."
Before moving to Des Moines, Alex Hall's previous restaurants were located in New York City. Hall said he has a love for old buildings with history and character.
"I like weird buildings, and (Rypma) likes buying new buildings," Hall said. "There are so many interesting buildings in Des Moines. It makes people nervous (to renovate them), but it's worth it. And it's great to see and join all these great restaurants in Valley Junction."
A taste of things to come
When the restaurant is complete, the 7,250-square-foot space will seat about 130 people between two dining areas and the bar. And the private room will have space for 50-100 more.
The front part of the restaurant, originally the Ford dealership's showroom, will feature a bakery cranking out pastries and bread for all four of Hall's restaurants and for retail. Breakfast and cafe seating will include banquettes and casual communal tables.
The middle part of the restaurant, formerly a workshop, will house an L-shaped coffee and beverage bar with banquette seating along the opposite wall.
Open ceilings will showcase the original bow truss system used to hold up the roof of the building.
Original beams and latticework will be lit with LEDs, and 4-by-4-foot skylights will line the ceilings to allow natural light to fill the space during the day. The rediscovered window bays along the north wall will be fitted with modern sash windows.
The rear of the restaurant will be the focal point — an upscale dining room with multiple seating options will be complemented by an exposed Hestan kitchen with facing bar seating. Diners can watch the chefs cook meats and vegetables over a wood fire.
The private dining area accommodating 25 or more will have plenty of space for large parties, weddings and corporate events and will be staffed and managed by its own event coordinator.
A satellite bar will service the space separate from the restaurant. The private room will even have its own, separate entrance through an outdoor garden off of Walnut Street.
The staff can't wait to get started
Ben Siebert, 28, will be the Cafe & Bakery's head chef and plans to continue the melding of Australian and Iowan influences with touches of Mediterranean, Italian and Asian.
"I'm an Iowa guy, so I'm using our local produce and livestock, but I'm adding more seafood," Siebert said. "It'll be different from the original St. Kilda, with more elevated and refined dishes from small to large plates with snacks and shareable items."
As with many of St. Kilda's chefs in the past, Siebert visited Australia in February under Hall's guidance to observe Australian dining aesthetics and trends.
"We have amazing young chefs," Hall said. "You find them and you train them and stand behind them. You encourage them to grow within the industry."
St. Kilda Cafe & Bakery will be open Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m., with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Brian Taylor Carlson is the food and dining reporter at the Des Moines Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-284-8552 and follow @briantaylorcarlson on Facebook, @BriinDSM on Twitter and @briindsm on Instagram.
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