Kemolls St Louis History
Kemolls St Louis History - Since 1927
In 1927, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Kemoll (Vincenzo Camuglia), opened the doors to a new business that soon became a popular neighborhood eating place. Mrs. Kemoll (née Gaetana Danna) was taught to cook by her mother, learning authentic Sicilian recipes, which are still served today.
Initially, Kemoll's was just a one-room confectionery, with living quarters in a small curtained off section in the back. The Kemolls eventually moved to an apartment just above their business to make more room for their growing business—the first of many expansions—eventually over the entire building.
Mrs. Kemoll used only quality ingredients and she tested and refined every recipe until it met her standards. In the early days, when it was a casual neighborhood spot, plate lunches, sandwiches, candies and ices were the proud favorites. The menu expanded over the years as Mrs. Kemoll expanded her repertoire of recipes. Many dishes were first introduced to St. Louis by Mrs. Kemoll—cheese bread, fried artichokes (Kemoll's signature dish) cannelloni, manicotte, linguine con vongole, calzone, and spaghetti alla carbonara are just a few.
Located on North Grand Boulevard, just nine blocks from Sportsman’s Park (the old Busch Stadium), Kemoll’s was frequented by the sports crowd. Many old-time sports figures, as well as other popular celebrities dined here in the past, and many celebrities still frequent Kemolls today! Check out our Celebrities List
In the early fifties, the Kemolls' son-in-law, Frank Cusumano, joined them, bringing a business degree and management experience to the family business. His arrival allowed Mrs. Kemoll to focus on the food and décor as Frank became the General Manager. This partnership allowed further expansion and solidified Kemoll's reputation as a destination restaurant.
In the sixties, Kemoll's introduced St. Louis to international dining with “Gourmet Nights.” Derived from family and staff visits to Europe, these seven- or eight-course dinners featured the cuisine of a particular city, province or famous restaurant in Italy, France, or some other part of the world. Patrons were treated to authentic foods, course by course, with detailed menu notes and a history of the featured cuisine, without leaving Grand Boulevard! Kemoll's ultimately developed and executed over 40 Gourmet Night menus.
In 1990, after sixty-two years in the same location, and under the guidance of fourth generation family member, Mark Cusumano, Kemoll’s moved to the lobby of Metropolitan Square, the tallest building in downtown St. Louis. In 2003, Kemoll’s expanded its scope by opening the Top of the Met St Louis Banquet Facility in the same building on the 42nd floor. Here the Cusumano family serves up to 250 guests the same fine food and friendly service that earned Kemoll’s Restaurant its reputation--along with spectacular views of the city and riverfront. In 2009, Kemoll's Restaurant moved from the lobby of Met Square up to the 40th floor, adding lunch service and great views at every meal.
Today, the Cusumano family with the help of many devoted, long-time employees, continues the Kemoll tradition, offering its many friends a variety of authentic international food that is hard to match. So, wherever gourmets may meet and discuss the fine Italian restaurants of the United States, you may likely hear the name “Kemoll’s.”
P.S. The fifth generation is already chipping in!
Antique Kemolls Menu Found In Apache Junction, Arizona
Late in 2009, we received a phone call from a woman in Apache Junction, Arizona. Jennifer told us she had been to an antique market and found an attractive old menu she thought would look great if framed to hang in her home. Judging from the prices on it, ("African Lobster Tails $2.75 and One-pound Choice T-Bone Steak $2.95) she thought it had to be 50 or 60 years old. She bought it and brought it home. Her curiosity was piqued and she decided to look up "Kemoll's" on the Internet. She was shocked to find out that Kemoll's was still in business and operated by the same family. She called us and asked if we would like to have the menu, which we said we would indeed. When the menu arrived, we were shocked because none of the fourth generation had ever seen it or any similar version. The third generation, however, thought it looked familiar.
Here it is, after a little touching-up, for all to enjoy and reminisce. Our deepest and sincere thanks go to Jennifer for recovering what we consider a family treasure. (Jennifer received a quality reproduction of the menu in the event she still wants to hang it in her home.) The menu was actually designed and hand drawn in the early Sixties by architect Ted Berger, JoAnn Kemoll Berger's husband.
Read Kemoll's history as it appears on antiquewhs.com written by Ron "Johnny Rabbit" Elz