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A Slice of Unconventional Delight

Story: Brian Amick, Photos: Cory Weaver

Rick Giordano flies by the seat of his pants—and that’s the way he likes it. His labor of love, The Headless Bat, came together in a relatively short amount of time late last year, and he’s still figuring it out as he goes, almost six months into the business venture.

“I didn’t know shit when we opened."

"The first night, people were in here and they were ordering food…what do we do now?” he said with a laugh. “I thought, ‘We’ll be so slow at first, we’ll have time.’  We ran out of pizza almost every night, which is cute for a minute, but then it got irritating. But I thought, ‘We’ll figure it out. Here’s how much dough we need to prep, how to get it to hold and not run out, here’s how to staff, here’s how the back of the house works.’ But we’ve learned a lot and are still constantly learning.”

The heavy metal-themed pizzeria located in the Tower Grove South neighborhood of St. Louis offers a selection of whole and by-the-slice pizza and wings, while the bar serves draft beer, cocktails and wine. Located in what was formerly The London Tea Room (go figure), Giordano converted the space to fit his specific needs.

Not only did he hit the jackpot on the first place he looked at in the area, but it was exactly what he had in mind as far as a clean, classy space juxtaposed with the idea of putting a death metal bar inside of it.

“I just felt it. When I walked in, I just felt like this was the space,” Giordano said. “It would be really easy to take over some bar or something else and have a place that mostly has metal and horror kind of stuff seem like a shitty dive bar.”

While the name and theme wouldn’t suggest a place for the casual diner, the atmosphere is surprisingly conducive to having a nice meal with friends and family, enjoying the unique décor, music and selection of pinball machines. It’s the kind of place Giordano would’ve enjoyed as a teenager, but especially enjoys as an adult.

“This space is like if you could crawl inside my brain,” he said.

Spending time inside The Headless Bat, you can really tell that it all flows from Giordano’s mind. The music? His own playlist of hundreds of his favorite heavy metal songs from bands such as Motörhead and Slayer. The heavy metal and horror-themed posters, life-sized glowing ceramic tiger and even a piece of art depicting Satan holding slices of pizza? Perfectly Rick. The food and booze? Exactly the type of things he enjoys.

“I should probably lie and say, ‘I made this place for the community.’ But really, I just thought about what kind of place I’d like to hang out. This is all the shit that I like,” he said. “It’s kind of like playing in a band. You can write a song that’s tailored for an audience, but how much fun is that?

Isn’t it much more fun to write whatever you feel and want to hear, put it out to other people, and if they react positively, it means even more?”

Giordano is not only a member of St. Louis metal band The Lion’s Daughter, but also the former co-owner of The Ready Room, the popular entertainment venue that closed in 2020 and never re-opened despite plans for a new space in 2022. He learned a lot from his time running the show there, including what not to do. He also likens this to being in a band.

“You can learn a lot about what you don’t want to do on a tour or something, from watching other peoples’ mistakes.”

It’s part of the reason he doesn’t want to do live music at his new business. It’s hard as a venue to make money from live music, when everything gets paid out to bands, sound people, door guys, security and more, but also takes away from the atmosphere he’s trying to create for the happy hour and dinner crowd.

The Headless Bat does hold an event night on Tuesdays, where it’ll do anything from showing bad movies to bingo. Giordano wants to do a metal trivia night as well, perfect for the trivia-obsessed citizens of the St. Louis metro area.

The fun, relaxed environment can be enjoyed by everyone. Giordano acknowledges the novelty of it can even be a draw to those not familiar with his world.

“It’d be easy to open a ‘heavy metal place’ and have it seem really elitist and exclusive. I didn’t want that at all. I wanted a place where you don’t have to know what any of this stuff is. Make fun of it if you want. Eat some pizza, have some good beers and have a good time.”

The specialty pizzas, which feature some of Giordano’s favorites flavor combinations he’s discovered over the years, stand out on the menu. An early customer favorite is the Thai Curry, which has green curry, shallots, peppers, red onion and cilantro. It’s inspired by one of Giordano’s favorite pizzas at the now-defunct Thai Pizza Company. Other popular orders include Creeping Breath (garlic cloves, sausage, onions and peppers), Born of Fire (pepperoni, jalapeno, pineapple and cherry peppers, served with a side of hot honey and murder spice) and Meatless Bat (portobello mushrooms, black olives, green peppers and onions).

On the bar side, Giordano worked with Tony Saputo of renowned cocktail bar Platypus to create fun specialty cocktails. Appropriately named drinks like Queen Wasp (silver tequila, mango, smoked jalapeno, lime, agave and chipotle cacao bitters) and Conjurer (rye whiskey, vermouth, ginger and cherry bark vanilla bitters) fit The Headless Bat’s theme well. There’s even a Fernet Menta shot infused with real Oreo cookies, for those with a sweet tooth looking for an extra kick.

This all creates an experience that can be for anybody that walks through the door, not just metalheads, pinball wizards and horror aficionados.

The Headless Bat is 21+. Location: 3128 Morgan Ford Road in St. Louis.

Hours: Tues-Thurs 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Fri-Sat 5 p.m.-11 p.m.

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