WEBSTER GROVES, MO (KTVI) – Some St. Louis food critics are calling it the year's best new restaurant. But when you hear the story behind Olive & Oak you realize it's not just the food that makes it extraordinary.
When a veteran restaurateur and a sales manager, with a dream to open his own business got together, it was an unlikely match built out of tragedy. Mark Hinkle and Greg Ortyl both lost their one-year-old sons to congenital heart defects. Their families quickly bonded through their shared grief.
When the two opened their restaurant earlier this year in Webster Groves, they knew it would be a tribute to their sons Oliver and Oaks. Decorative hearts and photographs of their children cover almost every wall. But it's not just about the food and décor, Hinkle and Ortyl are also behind two charities that this year alone raised $300,000 for the Children's Heart Foundation. The money will be used for outreach and research. Ortyl started the Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation when his son died in 2012. Hinkle started the Ollie Hinkle Foundation a year later after the death of his son.
The restaurant co-owners are also touching the lives of patrons who share their own stories of loss. And their families have one more thing in common; they both have two daughters the same age, 2 and 7.