Inventive restaurateur is just wild about potstickers

David Dresner, creator of Crispy Edge Global Potstickers

Sam Mosher, Staff Writer

David Dresner’s favorite dish is potstickers. When he was a child, his mom would bribe him with potstickers so he would do his chores or run errands with her. But as an adult, the processed ingredients and premade dough of most potstickers failed to live up to the standard set by his childhood.

“I couldn’t find the perfect potsticker,” he said.

So rather than settling for something lackluster, Dresner, 30, who attends Central Reform Congregation, took matters into his own hands and created Crispy Edge, the restaurant of his dreams. In the words of Dresner, the restaurant’s mission is to make “gourmet potstickers with a global inspiration.”

“That’s what I wanted,” he said. “I wanted to elevate what thousands of years ago was a peasant food into what’s really a gourmet pastry.”

Crispy Edge opened in April at 4168 Juniata St. in Tower Grove South. It is open for dinner on Friday, all day Saturday and for Sunday brunch. It offers a variety of potsticker creations, a full bar, and a healthy coffee and tea program by Blueprint Coffee and London Tea Room, respectively.

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Crispy Edge has an all-day dinner and  a brunch menu. The menu, which has vegan and gluten-free options, includes potsticker concoctions such as buffalo chicken, chorizo date and Vietnamese spring roll offered all day, as well as dessert potstickers such as apple pie and cherry blossom. Its brunch has “untraditional” takes on “fan-favorite foods” such as a goat cheese and egg quiche potsticker, or a kabob with potstickers and thick-cut bacon. 

Dresner said one reason Crispy Edge has such a diverse menu is that he wants all guests to feel welcome.

“It’s a very calm, comfortable place where all creeds are invited and welcomed,” he said. “It’s our absolute pleasure to serve you at Crispy Edge, and anything short of that would be a complete and utter failure on our part.”

The dough at Crispy Edge is homemade. Dresner worked with City Farm STL to grow 1,200 square feet of microgreens in the restaurant. He said he is proud of the ingredients used at Crispy Edge.

“We want to tell people where our food comes from,” Dresner said. “We want people to know.”

Dresner said he made sure to create a restaurant that lived up to what potstickers mean to him.

“It was very selfishly driven,” he said with a laugh. “I wanted thousands of globally inspired gourmet potstickers available to me at all times.”

According to Dresner, the idea came from his father. While at home in the Chicago suburbs, Dresner was making traditional potstickers with his friends when his dad called them “ordinary.” His dad proceeded to make potstickers with ingredients such as  jam and cheese. Dresner said he was initially opposed to his dad’s creations.

“I said, ‘Dad, that’s a dumb idea. Go away. Actually, wait. Come back. That’s an amazing idea,’ ” Dresner said. “We started translating all these global inspirations and breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert ideas into my favorite dumpling.”

Dresner first learned how to make potstickers with his grandfather, who ate them as comfort food after his cancer treatments numbed his taste buds.

“I was his helper making dumplings. He loved potstickers,” he said. “It just stuck with me. It was like David without potstickers was like spaghetti without meatballs.”

In addition to being a restaurant, Crispy Edge is also a retail and wholesale USDA manufacturing facility. Dresner said his next goal is to share his potstickers with people outside St. Louis through grocery stores and other restaurants.

Dresner said some people see his restaurant’s use of potstickers as cultural appropriation, but he sees it differently.

“What’s cool about America is we really are a melting pot of ideas and influences,” he said. “We need to have protections for minorities to make sure there’s equal opportunity, but I don’t think me opening a restaurant that uses a traditional Chinese vehicle is anything more than flattery, tribute and great affinity for a really cool culture.”

When Dresner is not at Crispy Edge, he stays busy with other passion projects. After graduating from Washington University with a degree in finance in 2010, he started a custom coffee sleeve business called Sleeve a Message by himself in the basement of his apartment complex. Today, with a staff of 25, Sleeve a Message ships more than 30 million sleeves a year to customers in all 50 states and 12 other countries. Dresner is also involved in real estate, in which he renovates buildings and rents them out to small businesses.

Dresner said his family has always supported his dreams.

“[My dad] basically said to me, ‘Dave, follow your heart all the way through. If you want to be a mechanic, be a mechanic. If you want to be an artist, be an artist. But just do it, and do it all the way.’ ”

Tori Foster, the head chef at Crispy Edge, saw Dresner’s passion the first time she met him.

“My first reaction was, ‘This guy has this incredible idea,’ ” she said. “I thought he was passionate, he loves potstickers, and he loves people and he wants to bring all that together. … He’s eccentric and just wants to please people, and I knew I could get down with this.”

She said Dresner brings his passion to Crispy Edge with a clear purpose.

“Working with David is a whirlwind,” she said. “He’s constantly pushing me to be my best and continue to innovate and push this brand to be what his dream’s been. Every day, he’s working hard and striving to be better, and that just translates to every single person that works here.”

While he may be busy with Crispy Edge, Sleeve a Message and real estate, Dresner said his passion drives him.

“I wake up excited about all this every day,” he said. “I really do love what I do. As long as I’m having fun and learning, I’m totally cool to take on all these projects.”

Crispy Edge is open Fridays from 4 to 10 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4 to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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