The Blue Duck was started by Chris and Karmen Rayburn in 2010. They were high school sweethearts, got married and moved to St. Louis after attending college at Mizzou. Both Chris and Karmen had done the corporate thing, and were ready to do something new. Originally, they were looking for a kitchen where Karmen could make cakes and pastries, but found a little café for sale in Washington. It was more than they were looking for, but decided to take the plunge and buy it.
It was called Gourmet Café, but what they were doing was neither gourmet nor a café, so they needed to come up with the name. They choose ‘The Blue Duck’ based on the movie Billy Madison. Billy colors a duck blue and said they he made the duck blue because I’ve never seen a blue duck. True to it’s name, The Blue Duck is truly an American original. Like the movie reference, you won’t find another quite like it.
At first, The Blue Duck started with just Karmen, Chris and one employee, but soon expansion was necessary.
By 2012, they had outgrown the space and when the opportunity came to build on the Riverfront in Washington, they quickly jumped on it. They built there and moved to their new location in 2013.
Business was great, and they decided to expand. In 2017, they opened another Blue Duck in Maplewood. Maplewood has a creative side that appealed to Karmen and Chris, as well as a small town feel where they quickly gained many regulars. They liked it so much, they decided to move in just a few blocks from the restaurant. In 2018, the Washington location was sold to focus all efforts in Maplewood.
The Blue Duck’s philosophy has always been ‘good food with a casual, friendly atmosphere’. It’s a place you can come with your family and friends truly enjoy yourself. It is never stuffy. One of the Blue Duck’s hallmarks is to take a classic comfort food dish and put a nice twist on it. They like to keep things fun and creative and this certainly comes across in their food and the little twists and turns they like to throw in along the way. The menu is seasonal and changes about every three months. This keeps things from ever getting boring for both their customers and staff. There are a few faves that stay on the menu and may always be there. Another hallmark of the Blue Duck is that everything is made from scratch, in both the kitchen and the bar. Everything. From breads to sauces to smoked meats to bitters, it is all done in house.
We encourage you to come in and try it out for yourself.