Tucanos newest business to open in Streets of St. Charles

Traffic is growing in the Streets of St. Charles.

Block 1000, the first building completed in Cullinan Properties’ $150 million mixed-use development, is 90 percent leased. And a second building, which will offer residential and commercial space, is under construction as part of the 26-acre, 1 million-square-foot development at the southeast corner of South Fifth Street and Interstate 70.

Tucanos Brazilian Grill, which opened Thursday, is the newest tenant in Block 1000, built on the site of the former Noah’s Ark restaurant.

The Brazilian-themed Tucanos, the seventh restaurant in the chain and first in the Midwest, offers customers a different dining experience than they are accustomed to in St. Charles.

A wooden cue on each table determines when the meat service of the meal begins. Flipping the cue from its red end to its green end brings a cast of servers who slice off generous portions of picanha, fraldinha, picalho, peru and assado, just to name a few of the meats served at each table. Diners augment the meats with items from the salad festival, a three-sided bar offering more than 70 hot and cold items such as lobster bisque, several kinds of pasta salad and lettuce types and peel-and-eat shrimp.

“The response has been really good,” Tucanos general manager Tony Poole said Saturday. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive comments, and people are enjoying the variety of the product and like the feel and ambiance of the building.”

Poole said Tucanos owners have gone to Brazil many times and tried to bring back an authentic dining experience from South America’s largest country. The other Tucanos locations are in Utah, Colorado Springs, Albaquerque, New Mexico and Newport News, Va. Poole said the owners plan to open restaurants in Houston, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Ind.

The owners spent $3.2 million on the St. Charles location. The restaurant’s decor, even in the restrooms, gives the diner the feel of spending time at a restaurant in the tropics.

“We want to be festive and give you a true feel of Brazil,” Poole said. “We want you to have a relaxing experience. If your dining experience is two hours, that’s OK. We’re really big into groups and families.”

Tucanos hired 156 employees for its location at 1520 S. Fifth St. and will be looking to hire more in 10 days, Poole said.

Tucanos meat servers train for 10 shifts before they can wield their sharp knives at a diner’s table, and it takes two weeks of training to work in the kitchen. The restaurant has a private dining section that holds up to 70 people, is fully equipped for audio-visual presentations and is designed for meetings, weddings and birthday parties. When the weather warms, Tucanos will open its 50-seat outside patio.

For more information about the restaurant, visit www.tucanos.com or call 636-724-4499.

Tucanos joined several other tenants in Block 1000. The Art Institute of St. Louis was the first to open there last July, followed by St. Charles Dental, MassageLuXe, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Wamhoff Financial Planning, Cole and Associates Engineering and the Brown, Smith, Wallace accounting firm.

It took a while, though, for the development to acquire momentum. Cullinan took control of the property in 2007, but the recession slowed the project’s progress. In January 2010, the St. Charles City Council issued $40 million in bonds to jump start the project. In July, 2011, the council approved an amended regulating plan calling for more commercial square footage, less residential space and fewer buildings than were proposed when the development previously was called the Plaza at Noah’s Ark. The site plan allows for 17 buildings, as many as 12 of which would be one or two stories tall. None would be taller than six stories.

Construction of Block 4000, a five-story, 400,000-square foot residential and commercial building, is underway within the Streets of St. Charles, Cullinan marketing manager Kellie Schmidt wrote in an email Monday. The ground level will provide 45,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The first 120 residential units will be ready by this fall, Schmidt wrote.

When completed, there will be 309 residential units in the development.

Block 4000 is scheduled to open in multiple phases from the fall of 2013 to the summer of 2014.

In 2014, work is expected to be completed on Block 2000 and Block 5000. Cullinan expects the final building — Block 3000 — to be finished in the summer of 2015, Schmidt wrote.

A multistory parking garage also is being built. The structure will have three entry levels and room for 1,250 cars. When completed, the parking garage will be open to the public.