A 300-person event space and a new restaurant from the group behind Bissinger’s is slated to open this fall at the Cortex innovation district.

Venture Cafe St. Louis, the nonprofit that hosts networking and other events, says Innovation Hall is the first civic innovation center in the Midwest targeting entrepreneurs and innovators. Innovation Hall will feature a free drop-in workspace, a reserved event and meeting space that holds four to 300-plus people, and a new restaurant called The Chocolate Pig.

“Creative, communal spaces are essential placemaking elements that facilitate and accelerate tech company formation, generate buzz and excitement and make us want to come early and stay late,” Cortex Innovation Community President and CEO Dennis Lower said in a statement. “This is a key next step in our efforts to build a St. Louis regional community of innovators.”

Venture Cafe envisions the space, modeled after a concept in Boston, to accommodate all civic groups such as government officials, artists, educators and others. Education will be a particular focus — funding from an anonymous donor will be used to jumpstart an education innovation hub at Innovation Hall that will host events and programming on equity and access in education, according to a release.

“Creating a civic innovation space is just as vital to the St. Louis community as is attracting the presence of companies like Microsoft and Square. Through the combination of events, food, and community, Innovation Hall will increase the density of talent sharing and learning which Venture Café has created through its weekly gatherings,” Venture Cafe St. Louis Executive Director Tyler Mathews added in a statement.

23 City Blocks Hospitality Group, which owns The Caramel Room at Bissinger’s, Handcrafted by Bissinger’s, Lumen Private Event Space and 23 City Blocks Catering, will operate the new restaurant. The Chocolate Pig will offer casual style dining featuring a mix of cuisines and accommodations for various dietary restrictions. It will be open for daily seated service and offer lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. The group also will open The Market by 23 City Blocks, a grab-and-go style coffee bar that will serve breakfast and lunch.

The new developments will be located in the $55 million 4220 building, Cortex’s third phase that will be anchored by Microsoft’s new regional headquarters and the district’s first hotel, Aloft Hotel. The third phase will also feature a 180,000-square-foot technology office facility, a 200-unit apartment building and a 1,000-space parking garage.

Source: St. Louis Business Journal  |  By Steph Kukuljan | April 11, 2018