Watercolor by Marilynne Bradley

The Edge

Lester Golubovich grew up in the restaurant business; his father, John Golubovich, owned John’s Buffet in Soulard. But Golubovich's mentor and idol was his godfather, George "KO" Koverly, a wrestler-turned-restaurateur who owned the Mural Room on DeBaliviere. In the 1950s, the Mural Room was one of the great places to go for music and dining; it was a place to see and be seen. It was Koverly's restaurant that inspired Les Golubovich to open The Edge.

George "KO" Koverly at the Mural Room, 1956

The Edge restaurant was hidden at the corner of Missouri and LaSalle, at the northwest edge of Lafayette Square. It was located a block to the south and east of Jefferson and Chouteau, behind the Mack Truck lot. Prior to opening The Edge, Golubovich owned the entire block at Jefferson and Chouteau, and operated a bar called The Jungle on the property. When Mack Truck came around wanting to buy the property, he sold it to generate the cash he needed to open his new restaurant.

The Edge, 2300 LaSalle, 1974

The Edge opened in 1974 as a casual lunchtime bar with a steam table. Golubovich's dream was to eventually add a more formal dining room, and to do so he would need an experienced, proven partner who could run the casual side and make it a success. He turned to his long-time friend Frank Bommarito, who had many years of experience in the restaurant business, both as the maître d' at the Gallery restaurant in the Forest Park Hotel and managing the bars at Henrici’s on Lindell and Al Baker’s in Clayton.

By 1978, The Edge was an established success, and in the summer of 1979, Golubovich and Bommarito expanded their restaurant, reconstructing an old warehouse which was attached to the west side of the initial space into an upscale dining room – Golubovich’s version of his godfather's Mural Room. The Edge now offered casual dining on its east side and gourmet fare on the west.

The Edge's casual side, 1979
Golubovich during construction of
The Edge's formal side, 1979
Golubovich and Bommarito ready to open
The Edge's formal side, 1979

On August 23, 1983, Lester Golubovich died at the age of 53. After his death, it became clear that both the restaurant and his estate were in debt, and for a time, the future of The Edge was uncertain. On April 25, 1984, Frank Bommarito bought the outstanding shares of The Edge at a foreclosure sale, and he and his three sons, Terry, Jim and Joe, continued to successfully run The Edge for another 20 years.

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The original casual side of The Edge had the feel of a neighborhood tavern. It was fairly dark, with recessed lights. There were mounted turn-of-the-century posters and playbills on the walls, and a portrait of a woman behind the bar. There were small rectangular tables that could be set for four or pushed together for forty; the room seated ninety-two.

The Edge's casual side
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 30, 1989
The Edge's Assistant Manager, Joe Bommarito
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 30, 1989

The Edge's casual side became the in-spot for daytime eating and drinking, with a good cross section of the business community – primarily male – selecting their lunch from the restaurant's small steam table.

Lunch at The Edge was simple, hearty, modestly priced and in large portions. Mostaccioli in meat sauce came with meatballs or nicely spiced Italian sausage. There was a wide array of sandwiches, including hot dog, Polish sausage, meatball and open faced roast beef with gravy. A satisfying tamale was topped with chili. The Greek salad had lots of feta cheese, with a well-balanced vinegar-and-oil dressing, and there were full-meal salads, with chicken or tuna. There was table service in addition to the steam table line, although the latter provided a closer look at the fare.

The Edge's steam table lunch

The luncheon steam table was converted into a salad area at dinner, which began at 5 p.m. Dinner was "all you could eat" of any one of sixteen pasta dishes, which were served with salad and garlic cheese bread. Barbecued ribs were served on Friday after 5 p.m. and all day Saturday.

Green plants and stained glass decorated The Edge's softly lit, brick walled gourmet dining room, with its Victorian furnishings, white table linen, silver and crystal. A wood paneled entrance led to a barroom, with marble topped tables and cane backed chairs. The woodwork, Victorian lighting and furnishings were obtained from old mansions in Lafayette Square and Soulard. The main dining room seated 65, and an additional 35 places were available on weekends in a smaller adjacent room.

The Edge's formal side

The gourmet menu offered elegant cuisine, with beef, veal, lamb, fowl and seafood entrées.

The Edge's Gourmet Menu, 1983
(click image to enlarge)
Frank Bommarito with his wife Shirley
at The Edge, 1983
Frank Bommarito at The Edge
with sons Jim, Terry & Joe, 1994

The Edge's customers were as diverse as its menu. There were ladies in fur coats, men in tailored suits, the blue jean crowd and everything and anything in-between. It was a hangout for entertainers, sports figures, politicians and cops. Steve Perry and Journey had dinner one night on the formal side; Eddie Money came in for lunch one day before his evening concert; Tony Bennett and the Charlie Daniels band would come in for barbecued ribs; Stan Musial would stand up in the middle of the dining room and play "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" on his harmonica and then sign autographs.

REO Speedwagon at The Edge, with Terry, Jim and Joe Bommarito, 1978

One of The Edge’s attractions was its remarkable bartenders, beginning with Patti Murphy, a spectacular redhead known for her sharp repartee, double-entendre comments and revealing clothes. When she left The Edge to open her own place, Carol Ernst stepped behind the bar with a striking array of shirtfronts. Customers would shower Ernst with gifts – champagne, crystal, Rolex watches and more.

The Edge's casual side bar, 1980 Carol Ernst, 1983

The Edge did phenomenal business; it was often difficult to get near the place. But the restaurant had financial problems it never escaped, despite packing in lunchtime crowds almost to its dying day. The Edge closed unexpectedly just before Christmas of 2004, and its doors never reopened. In October of 2011, Les Golubovich's homage to his wrestler-turned-restaurateur godfather came crashing down.

The End of The Edge - October, 2011 Golubovich and daughter Lisa, 1983

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