One thing you need to know about The Headless Bat is that it’s a work in progress – one that is fully determined by owner Rick Giordano’s dream restaurant.
“What inspired the restaurant?” he asks. “Selfishness. Me wanting a place that I really like. I think about it like music: I’ve always approached music and songwriting in the sense of if I like it, that’s all that matters. And if other people are into it, that’s just a bonus. So I’m kind of approaching [The Headless Bat] the same way.” Giordano’s upcoming heavy metal-inspired pizza bar sounds like the perfect addition to the Morgan Ford dining district.
Giordano isn’t new to St. Louis’ bar scene; he spent years working at The Ready Room and plays guitar and vocals in local metal band The Lion’s Daughter. His love for heavy metal definitely influences the pizzeria’s playlist, which will center around the genre. Even the name harkens back to the pioneers of metal, an homage to the time Ozzy Osbourne infamously bit off the head of a bat onstage.
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But somewhat surprisingly, Giordano doesn’t want The Headless Bat to be a music venue. “I also don’t like when you show up somewhere because you want to get a drink some food, and then some band that you really don’t want to see is playing in the corner and you can’t have a conversation anymore,” he says. Instead, Giordano wants to strike a balanced ambience with the house music; it’s a subtle rumbling you can easily tune out, save for the occasional guitar solo. “If you can imagine death metal ambience, that’s what I’m going for,” he says.
This dichotomy continues in the restaurant’s design. It’ll be warm and inviting, but with vintage, ’70s-style furniture and décor that will make you look twice. “I almost want it to feel like a strange mixture of fine dining and a 12-year-old’s bedroom, if that makes any sense,” Giordano says. “Like, there might be a poster of a monster ripping a guy’s face off, but it’s gonna be in a nice frame.”
It’s a complete turnaround from the space’s former resident, The London Tea Room, which means Giordano is changing nearly everything about the design aside from the building’s classic crown molding. It’s not an entirely fleshed-out vision – he’s already changed the wall’s paint color at least once – but he’ll know it’s right when he sees it. “I won’t stop until I get it right. I’ll spend $10,000 on different buckets of paint if I have to,” Giordano says.
The food and drink offerings are also still up in the air, but we know New York-style and pan pizzas will fill the menu along with craft beer and polished cocktails. The Headless Bat will open once the restaurant obtains its liquor license – Giordano is hoping for late summer. He adds that whatever you’re imaging about The Headless Bat, you’re probably just a little bit off.
“I think the word heavy metal has been thrown around too much already, and it’s creating a sense of like, ‘Oh, it’s just a stupid headbanger place’ or something,” Giordano says. “I think people associate heavy metal with stupidity in a bad way, or lowbrow. And that’s not what this is going to be. It’s not going to be like a ‘come in and listen to screamo and graffiti the walls and throw up on the floor’ kind of place. This is going to be a place that is for everybody but just embraces [metal] culture.
Follow The Headless Bat on Instagram to stay updated on the pizzeria’s opening.
The Headless Bat, 3128 Morgan Ford Road (formerly London Tea Room), Tower Grove South, St. Louis, Missouri, @headlessbatstl