After lengthy and construction, Michael Schulson and Rob Wasserman's new restaurant, The Saint James, is almost here. The duo are aiming to open the American-style restaurant in late September or early October.
"It's been a long, long, long process," said Wasserman, of bringing the new Suburban Square restaurant, originally slated for a Spring 2012 opening, to life. "It's very exciting; we're now close to finishing with construction, and you see what you’ve tried to create on paper coming to life. ... I can’t tell how much fun it is for us to walk in every day and see small minute details taking shape."
The Saint James, which will occupy the old Victoria's Secret spot in Ardmore's , is a collaboration between Schulson, of Center City's Sampan, and Wasserman, who owns Rouge in Rittenhouse Square. At The Saint James, the friends hope to bring an affordable, contemporary American menu to Main Liners.
"If you're a single wanting to hang out and grab a beer in the bar area, fabulous; if you want to enjoy a dinner with family, great. ... We wanted to make it a comfortable place for people to come and enjoy themselves multiple times a week," Wasserman explained.
Executive Chef Matt Moon, previously of Talula's Table in Kennett Square, will head up the kitchen.
The menu's classic American fare focuses on "back-to-food basics"—grilled meat and fish, fresh vegetables, "with simple vinaigrettes and marinades that make the flavors of each ingredient sing,” Schulson said in a press release.
The menu includes:
- Trout Dip with “everything” bagel chips
- Peekytoe Crab Toast with lemon aioli and dill
- Steak Tri Tip with shallot and compound butter
- Grilled Tuna Steak with avocado, tomato and chili
- Roasted Half Chicken with lemon marmalade and celery
- Shrimp Roll sandwich with butter lettuce, lemon and tarragon
- The Saint James Roast Pork sandwich, with spicy kale, sharp provolone and jus
Entrees will be priced below $25, Wasserman said. As far as beverages, most bottles will fall in the $30 to $60 range, with a glass for $8-12, and the bar will also offer some local craft beers and cocktails.
"We wanted to create a menu people would feel comfortable ordering from," he explained.
The 120-seat restaurant will be evenly split between a seated dining area and a large bar area (featuring a 20-foot long bar). Outdoor seating for about 50 will also be available, with the added comfort of heaters for colder months, Wasserman said. A skylight is one aspect added during construction to what the duo call a rustic-modern design for the space.
Wasserman, a grad, said Kimco Realty, the owners of Suburban Square, had reached out to him and Schulson separately about opening a restaurant in the shopping center. The two friends decided to embark on the project together.
The reception in the community has largely been warm, Wasserman said. "It helps that we’re both very familiar with the area. Ardmore is so close to Center City, and everyone is aware of what we are producing here ... and to be able to bring that to Ardmore—I think everyone is pretty excited and thrilled."
The Saint James, located at 30 Parking Plaza in Ardmore, is aiming for a late September or early October opening, and will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until midnight and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m.
The phone line for reservations is not up and running yet, but will eventually be reachable at 610-649-6200.
Schulson and Wasserman are not the only well-known restauranteurs expanding to Lower Merion this year. Michael Solomonov of Zahav an upscale kosher restaurant, in Merion this fall.
Want local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday? Sign up for our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.