Lost Tables | Remembering The Fatted Calf


Have you ever wondered what happened to that restaurant you once loved and have memories of dining at with your family and friends? We did! There is an amazing website called Lost Tables, dedicated to celebrating the restaurants of our past. We are partnering with the site’s creator Harley Hammerman and celebrating these wonderful stories. Hammerman and his wife Marlene are members of Shaare Emeth, and she is past president of the National Council of Jewish Women of St. Louis.   Visit Lost Tables on Facebook

In 1948, Anthony M. Bommarito and his brother Vincent A. Bommarito were still at St. Louis University High School when their father, the elder Tony Bommarito, died. After they graduated, the brothers took over their father’s restaurant – Tony’s Spaghetti House. Eventually, the words “Spaghetti House” were dropped, and the restaurant became simply Tony’s.

In 1965, Tony and Vince Bommarito inaugurated a new restaurant venture. On November 30, they opened the first of a chain of quick lunch places which they called The Fatted Calf.

“The Fatted Calf will be a sophisticated hamburger joint,” Tony said. “People will stand up to eat and there won’t be any liquor served. We hope to get four of five going in St. Louis, and later make it a national chain.”

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The Fatted Calf was located at Tenth and Locust in a building which the Bommaritos had covered with faux English Tudor cladding. The building had previously housed the legendary Noonan-Kocian Art Company, and after that it was the home to Fisher’s Opticians.

The Fatted Calf, with its Old English atmosphere, brick flooring, beamed ceiling, and burlap-covered walls, was an instant success. Customers walked along a cafeteria-style line, ordered from a variety of hamburger sandwich choices, picked up a beverage and chips, paid the cashier, put their tray on a wooden cross-beam, and stood munching their food.

“For the first three months, my brother Tony cooked and I took the orders,” reminisced Vince Bommarito. “Kim Tucci worked for us, as a cashier. Alex Dooley was our first GM. He, of course, learned a few things about hamburgers, and made a good living serving them.”

The limited menu had flame-grilled Calfburgers, Cheddarburgers, and Bleuburgers. Picadilly, Buckingham, and Berkshire (or Canterbury) sauces were provided as toppings. The Picadilly was a tomato-pepper relish, the Buckingham a mustard-based relish and the Berkshire was similar to Thousand Island.

In September of 1968, the Bommaritos sold The Fatted Calf to American Snacks of Chelsea, Massachusetts. By then there was a second restaurant at 3537 Lindell. American Snacks’ chairman Robert Wolfson, who was also vice president and treasurer of the St. Louis Blues, planned additional St. Louis locations and one in Boston.

Tony Bommarito joined American Snacks to assist in the expansion of the Fatted Calf chain. But early in 1970, Tony resigned from American Snacks and resumed his role at Tony’s with his brother Vince.

American Snacks opened a third Fatted Calf restaurant at Northwest Plaza in December of 1968 and a fourth in Clayton, at 12 South Bemiston, in March of 1969.

A second downtown Fatted Calf location opened at 513 Locust at the beginning of 1970 – the fifth and final St. Louis area location – and there were still five Fatted Calf restaurants open as of the beginning of 1980. But one by one, American Snacks began to close the restaurants. After the Northwest Plaza location was shuttered, only the Clayton restaurant remained, which American Snacks sold to Kathy Sellenriek.

Click here to read the entire story of The Fatted Calf on LostTable.com