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Up Late satisfies St. Louis’ craving for an all-night eatery

Up Late

St. Louis has an incredible array of restaurants and food options — at least, during the day. But a new restaurant is giving night owls a reason to stay hungry into the midnight hours.

Up Late is the newest restaurant in the Southwest Garden neighborhood. Open 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. Thursday through Sunday, the kitchen offers breakfast sandwiches, carne asada tacos, donuts, local beer from 4 Hands Brewery and milk from Rolling Lawns in Greenville, Illinois.

Owners Nathan Wright and Jason Bockman spent the better part of a year tweaking the menu and price point, hoping the right combination would bring St. Louisans out after a midnight shift or a night on the town.

Bockman, who also owns Strange Donuts, said: “As soon as we [announced Up Late], everybody was like, ‘Thank God.’ I know a lot of people that work in the restaurant industry. You’re going to bed late. You have just enough time to pay a bill, then you're off to work. And you get off at 10 or 11 [at night]. Then what do you have [open]?”

Nathan Wright and Jason Bockman of Up Late
Miya Norfleet
St. Louis Public Radio
Nathan Wright (left) and Jason Bockman of Up Late

Up Late is Wright’s first restaurant. While he worked at Strange Donuts, he watched and learned from Bockman.

“I knew Jason was someone to learn from. It’s not every day you go to work at a business and you work side-by-side with the owner,” Wright said.

Bockman — who has owned several businesses over the years — decided to outfit World’s Fair Donuts’ warehouse with a separate kitchen and make space for Up Late. The beloved donut shop now shares its address, 1904 Vandeventer, with the new taco and breakfast sandwich spot. The idea to bring Up Late to World’s Fair Donuts came to Bockman while he was working late nights prepping and baking the original owner's recipes.

“I’d be [at World’s Fair Donuts] at 3, 4 in the morning. I’d be looking out at the intersection. There’d be 12 cars at every rotation. It does not matter what time of the night it is, this intersection is bumping,” Bockman said. “I was always like, ‘Man, this location needs to be a 24-hour spot.'”

The late hours and lack of sleep has been worth it for Wright. He says the best moments have been seeing order tickets come in nonstop. “Both Saturdays that we’ve been open it’s been full from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. or until we sold out. It just never stops. That means we’re doing something right. People are interested, and they’re excited about this. [And that] has been really exciting to me.”

To hear more about Up Late’s handmade sauces and sausages, listen to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, or by clicking the play button below.

Up Late satisfies St. Louis’ craving for an all-night eatery

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org

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Miya is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."