On Aug. 24, Scratch Kitchen and Lounge, a burger and craft beer establishment, located at 7445 Madison St., officially expanded its operations a few doors down the popular dining and entertainment thoroughfare. Patrons at Slainte Irish Pub, 7505 Madison St., a nearby bar, are now able to order food from “Scratch West.”
Pat O’Brien, Scratch’s owner, told the Review imbibing customers will be able to enjoy build-your-own nachos, personal “neopolitan” pizzas and deep-fried chicken legs that will be prepared onsite using Slainte’s revamped kitchen facilities.
Scratch West will operate during Slainte’s normal business hours, but beginning in September, the menu will be available 5 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday. Weekend hours will be 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
The menu consists of chicken legs for $8 per pound, a build-your-own nachos option with four “bases” and a dozen toppings along with 8-inch pizzas made to order with a variety of sauces, cheeses, veggies and meats. There is also a chopped salad option.
O’Brien described the oven-roasted and deep-fried chicken legs as “kinda like a Buffalo Wild Wings idea.” There are a dozen seasoning options, which quadruples the choices currently offered at Scratch Kitchen and Lounge. Customers can choose from both dry and “sloppy” rubs, including “honey sriracha,” “fire,” and “tangy Carolina BBQ.”
“We are gearing up for football season. … [Slainte] is a great place to watch games.” O’Brien remarked.
As all three main menu items are customizable, diners order by checking boxes on a laminated menu. There is a separate Scratch point-of-sale within Slainte and customers, should they chose to order off the Scratch West menu, will receive two bills, one for drinks and one for food.
This expansion is not the first time O’Brien’s signature dishes will be available outside Scratch’s main location.
For several months now, Scratch Kitchen and Lounge has offered take-out food to bar patrons at a few nearby establishments, including Duffy’s Tavern, 7513 Madison St., ShortStop Lounge, 7425 Madison Street and Slainte. O’Brien has also catered events in Slainte’s second floor party room.
Recently, Slainte’s owners, brothers Pat and Chris Fleming, approached O’Brien with an offer to take over their kitchen. Those discussions eventually developed into Scratch West.
A few weeks ago, Slainte stopped serving food from its own menu, which included pizzas, appetizers and salads alongside daily specials. Now, its kitchen facilities are completely controlled by Scratch.
O’Brien acknowledged that kitchens can be difficult to operate. “It just wasn’t their thing,” he said referring to the Fleming brother’s preference to concentrate on the bar side of the business.
“I know some bar owners just don’t want to deal with the kitchen because it can be a losing situation. It is tough to manage.”
Although he admitted the idea is not original to Forest Park, O’Brien said, “I would love to grow this to places that either do not want the kitchen or want to start a kitchen at no cost to them.”
Scratch West is not the only expansion planned for O’Brien’s business this fall. As reported by the Review in July, O’Brien petitioned the Zoning Board of Appeals to grant an ordinance variation at a vacant property, 7444 Madison Street. The empty building is directly south of Scratch Kitchen and Lounge. The board unanimously supported the request and submitted a petition to the Forest Park Village Council for final approval.
O’Brien intends to open Scratch Deli and Cafe. The restaurant plans to offer delivery, take-out and catering alongside coffees and pastries. At its Aug. 10 meeting, based on the Zoning Board of Appeals’ recommendation, the village council unanimously approved the ordinance variation.
The new business is expected to open in October.