Paul and Wendy Hamilton first considered the idea of opening their own restaurant while Paul was directing food and hotel operations for Clipper Cruise Line and Wendy was heading up the marketing department for South Side National Bank. Paul graduated from Penn State University with a BS in Hotel & Restaurant Management and had managed several independent restaurants as well as food & beverage operations at Walt Disney World in Florida. Wendy graduated from Southwest Missouri State with a marketing degree and had previously worked in the hospitality industry for several years. They were both well aware of the time, effort and commitment it would require to operate a restaurant like Eleven Eleven Mississippi.
The location for Eleven Eleven was discovered in early February 2003. Once a part of the International Shoe factory, the restaurant portion of the complex was used to produce heels for women’s shoes. The space that existed was unrecognizable as anything but a shell of the building that had once existed. While many of those consulted thought the building required too much work to bring it to the level necessary to operate a first class restaurant. Paul and Wendy recognized the potential the space had to become one of the most uniquely designed restaurants in St. Louis. In addition, the charm of the Lafayette Square neighborhood and its close proximity to Downtown and all four major highways made it an ideal location for their new venture.
Demolition of the space started in August 2003 with construction starting closely thereafter. Despite several set-backs, construction moved along at a brisk pace. Paul & Wendy along with Wine Director Scott Gaghan and Executive Chef Ivy Magruder performed many construction projects on their own each evening as the main construction crew left for the day. All of the tuck-pointing, stone work, wall finishes, painting, wood finishing and most of the furniture was produced or refinished by Hamilton’s crew. The attention to detail conveyed on the building by the opening team is evident in the overall feel of the space as well as the attitudes of those that work here.
The doors officially opened on December 7th, 2003 to an overwhelmed audience of friends and family. Since that time, Eleven Eleven has become one of the most recognized restaurants in St. Louis for delivering exceptional service and innovative cuisine. During its first year the restaurant was included in Zagat’s “America’s Top Restaurants” and was voted “Best New Restaurant” in local publications. Eleven Eleven has since been recognized as “Best Overall Restaurant”, “Favorite Business Lunch”, “Favorite Service Staff” and the wine list has been recognized by Wine Spectator earning the “Award of Excellence” and the Wine Enthusiast with their “Award of Distinction” every year since opening.
In 2012 Paul & Wendy Hamilton were named “Restaurateur’s of the Year” by the Missouri Restaurant Association for their commitment to hospitality and culinary excellence.