On a sunny, October morning in 2016, I met with the owners of our neighborhood Pizzeria. Jerry Eichhorn & Greg Karcher opened the pizzeria at 6018 South Grand on February 6th, 1997, and have created a welcoming, warm lunch and dinner spot in historic Grand-Bates.
Greg and Jerry are hands-on owners and you can typically find them at one of their 3 Cecil Whittaker locations. Recently, they have been working on their newest project, The Filmore – a special event space in the building next door (subject of a future spotlight).
I showed up after the lunch rush, and was able to meet a couple of regulars. Mark Houlihan was enjoying a bubbly baked mostaccioli, and Mark Stuckenschneider was tucking into a grilled chicken sandwich and hot, golden French fries. Both used to live on Filmore and South Grand – lifetime “south-siders” – and make Cecil Whittaker’s their spot for lunch during the workday.
I interviewed Jerry to find out more about this gem of an eatery.
First things first, who is Cecil Whittaker?
Jerry: There is no Cecil Whittaker, it is a fictitious name. The Cecil Whittaker franchise was started by St. Louis natives, Don and Donna Glenn in 1982. We bought into the franchise 20 years ago in February, 1997. I think Cecil Whittaker was the name of one of the Glenn’s relatives – a father or uncle.
What is one thing about your business that you don’t think most customers or passers by know? (One thing you think they really need to know.)
Jerry: Cecil Whittaker Pizzeria has a large menu. We offer more than just pizza. We have great pasta and salads, delicious burgers and a wide variety of sandwiches and appetizers. We are best known for our pizza, but we want our customers and potential customers to know what they are missing and think of us the next time they are in the mood for more than just great pizza.
We are best known for our pizza, but we want our customers and potential customers to know what they are missing and think of us the next time they are in the mood for more than just great pizza.
(I asked Jerry about his favorite burger.)
Jerry: Definitely the 1/2-pound burger with (what else?) melted Provel cheese…and bacon. We carry a lot of Anheuser-Busch beers and have added more craft and seasonal beers this year.
I have to ask, what’s for dessert?
Jerry: We have cheesecake and sometimes homemade chocolate chip cookies. Due to the increased box lunch business, the cookies run out faster on some days.
What is your favorite product (or service) and why?
Jerry: Our grand dining room and patio are a source of pride for us. We have a full service dining room that seats 75. My wife, Debbie, is a former floral designer for Dierbergs. She does the beautiful plantings you see outside the restaurant and our beautifully landscaped patio – complete with a large screen TV. It is the perfect spot to dine on a fall weekend or a crisp fall evening.
What is the most unique product or service you sell?
Jerry: In the past five years, our catering business has taken off. We offer a large catering menu, and our catering services has been a great success. We have recently added boxed lunches to our catering menu and we are very excited about this new addition!
What do you love most about your building and location?
Jerry: We are proud of our building and patio, and love the mural paintings on the inside of our building. They depict the treasures of the Carondelet neighborhood. We feel lucky to be a part of the neighborhood. We have a sense of community that we have fostered and maintained over the last 20 years.
What do you love most about our Grand-Bates neighborhood?
Jerry: We have always felt welcomed in the neighborhood. From the first day we opened our doors, we felt like we belonged and we are privileged to be part of such a great, thriving city community.
I love walking by your windows. The decorations are always so lovely.
That’s the work of Laura and Michelle who work in the restaurant. Right now, we’re gearing up for Halloween. That holiday is an especially busy night for carry out and delivery orders, especially if it falls on a weekday, like it does this year.
Thanks to Jerry and Greg, their staff, and customers for welcoming me into their restaurant.
Want to experience Cecil Whittaker’s for yourself? Head on over and sip on some cold suds – or a rich red wine – while you bit into the crispy St. Louis-style pizza that I have the pleasure of enjoying just steps from home.
Business address: 6018 S. Grand Blvd. Saint Louis, MO 63111 (between Wilmington Ave. & Fillmore St.). Web site: cwpizza.com. Phone: +1 (314) 352-7277. Facebook profile: @CWpizza.
Open for business: Mon thru Thu 10 am-10 pm; Fri & Sat 10 am-12 am; Sun 11 am-10 pm.