Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, best known for their lead roles in the rock band KISS, were on hand on January 11 to give back to the military in Chesterfield, Missouri, at the celebration of their 20thRock & Brews.
The 8,600-square-foot restaurant in the St. Louis suburb opened its doors in November, but Simmons and Stanley, who are part owners in the chain, did an opening in grand fashion.
“Rock and Brews thrives everywhere we open because it is so much more than a theme restaurant,” explained Stanley when the band sat down with The Daily Meal for an interview. “Theme restaurants are usually a way to sell some part of food, and maybe to buy a t-shirt. This is a restaurant. We have 80 beers on tap here and the food is bar none, as top shelf as it gets. This is food you can be proud to serve at home. It doesn’t need the great ambiance of this place, it enhances it, certainly, but it’s the staff, the food, and the culture that we thrive on.”
The restaurant seats 300 and has an L-shaped 1,600 square foot patio, where children can enjoy the play area. Dogs are also welcome to sit with their owners on the patio and have dinner from a menu of their own, which includes items such as Addie’s Feast: homemade roasted chicken, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and vegetables.
The décor of the St. Louis Rock & Brews is filled with vintage posters, banners, and record albums. “This is not about living in the past, this is about being in the present and being in the company of a lot of the artists who made us who we are,” said Stanley when asked about the similarity to restaurants such as Hard Rock. “The idea of having a dead musician’s scarf on the wall is not what this place is about.”
“As you can see, there’s a lot of great vintage videos [on the television screens] and music. This place is built on classic music. That is the foundation of what this is,” he added.
Gene Simmons agreed with his partner. “The best thing to do is to know what you can do and what you shouldn’t do,” he added. “We don’t micromanage our mobile partners. We can’t be everywhere and do everything. We really shouldn’t be. The best thing we can do is stay on course and make sure the brand is real. That there is a legitimate, ethical, and moral way of doing things, which is why we make sure that every single opening of every Rock and Brews is devoted to our veterans.”
“That’s why, when we first open our doors, we make sure that we give checks to, in this case, Fisher House, and a few other charities which help the vets when they return to find their way back to society and to take care of their emotional and physical needs, and their families,” Stanley added.
Veterans and locals lined up outside to catch a glimpse of Simmons and Stanley and watch the cutting of the ribbon to officially open the restaurant. Standing by was Chesterfield Mayor Bob Nation, Rock & Brews CEO Mike “Sully” Sullivan, and franchise co-owner Kirk Williams. This is the third Rock & Brews Williams is involved in. He also operates the locations in Oklahoma City and Overland Park, Kansas.
The commitment to the military continued with a luncheon for veterans and their families of the restaurant’s tasty sweet and spicy pulled pork, served with soft drinks and French fries. During the meal, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley present checks to: Fisher House of St. Louis, a home away from Home for veterans, caregivers, and their families in the amount of $10,000; Honor Flight, an organization that flies veterans to Washington, DC to see the memorials, also for $10,000; and $5,000 to Cars 4 Heroes, which actually gave out a car it had refurbished to a single mom named Cierra in the reserves, who was about to be deployed.
“Sometimes we not only forget about the vets, but we forget about their families,” explained Stanley. “These are the people who volunteer to go overseas and protect us. Some of us think freedom is free. It’s only free for those who don’t pay the price. When these people return, they deserve more than a thank you from us. They deserve more than a free luncheon. They deserve a lifelong commitment from everybody else who is over here enjoying the benefits of their efforts.”
A large part of the money was raised at the grand opening benefit held later that night. The tickets were priced from $100-$300, with the larger VIP ones including an open bar and early access to the musicians. The lines to get in were long as the tickets were sold out, but everyone was patient waiting to get in. Many were dressed in KISS shirts, jackets, and even band member costumes.
At the event, all of the items served were from the large Rock & Brews menu: Opening Acts, garlic (parmesan) cheese fries; Signature Wings, Sweet Spicy Asian; VIP Salads, Hail Caesar and Strawberry Fields Salads; Classic Hits, five cheese mac ‘n cheese; Headliner Sandwiches, sweet spicy pulled pork; and Dessert, Sweet Surrender Bread Pudding with Jack Daniel’s sauce and miniatures of fudgy brownies used for their giant brownie sundae. Everything was a hit with the crowd.
Although the bar was busy all night, they did not serve the specialty cocktails, which look inviting on the menu. Among the options are Rock You Like a Hurricane (Bacardi Rum, Myers Dark Rum, lemon juice, passion fruit syrup) and Purple Haze (New Amsterdam vodka and gin, rum, tequila, blue Curacao, sweet & sour mix, Chambord).
During the party, the band Johnny Rock-Itt played a perfect mix of KISS, AC-DC, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and other 80s rock favorites for the crowd.
Simmons and Stanley, who are both originally from New York, reassured us that there was a Rock & Brews to come in that state. “Yes, but one has to take into account the real estate in New York proper is very, very expensive and we are very set that Rock & Brews all have this indoor/outdoor capacity. As you can see here, we have an outdoor area where windows can go up, weather permitting, and you are outside. So, for us, we’re pretty adamant about what the concept is and where it can apply.”
When asked if Long Island was a possibility, Stanley quickly answered, “Yes, close to the Nassau Coliseum. I see us out there before in New York City proper.”
It’s not the only celebration Paul Stanley will be at this month. On January 20th, the rocker turns 65 years old.
“I’m going to be a centerfold in AARP Magazine,” he said, laughing. “I’m kind of dazed by it. I can’t wrap my head around it because I’m the same guy I was 40 years ago, 50 years ago. I look at what I’m wearing and I’m basically dressed the same as I was. I’ve got a 5-year-old, an 8-year-old, a 10-year-old, and a 22-year-old, so the idea of being 65…
Stanley added, “I have to say you can be old when you’re young, or young when you’re older. There are people I’ve known who were born old. I’m just not one of them. I’d much rather look at the world the way I do and, for me, any day that I wake up and I’m looking down at the grass instead of up at it is a good day. I’m blessed.”
Simmons chimed in, “I’m 167!” aging himself 100 years. He also acknowledged that he has some more acting gigs in the works, but added, “We want to focus on the magic of Rock & Brews right here, right now. We’re glad to be in St. Louis. We’re glad to be anywhere. This is just the beginning. Before you know it, we’ll have 100 sites all over."
The day after the St. Louis Grand Opening Party, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons announced plans for Rock & Brews to open its first casino in Braman, Oklahoma, one hour from Wichita, Kansas.