Al Smith's Feasting Fox Restaurant and Gretchen's Inn Banquet Facilities - A historical St. Louis German Restaurant!

Feasting Fox Restaurant and Pub, Gretchen's Inn Banquet Facilities, St. Louis, Missouri

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Busch's Inn or Gretchen's Inn was built in 1914 by August A. Busch, Sr. of Anheuser Busch, Inc.  In that era there was a strong prohibition movement, so Busch wanted to show that beer could be served in a respectable family establishment instead of the typical sawdust floor saloon full of rifraff.  Its timber and stucco construction, steeply pitched roof and corner turret have made it a historic St. Louis landmark.

Anheuser Busch operated both this restaurant and the Bevo Mill throughout the difficult years of prohibition.  With the repel of prohibition, anti-trust laws would not allow a brewery to operate a drinking establishment.  Al Smith leased and successfully operated Al Smith's Restaurant from the 1930's through 1961, when Fred and Evelyn Krumm took over operations after managing the business since 1945.  The restaurant suffered a fire on May 5, 1968 and was completely refurbished and continued to serve Dutchtown for many more years.  The restaurant sat vacant from 1986 until 1993 and suffered from neglect.

Anheuser Busch was preparing to sell off the property to a franchise that planned to replace the historic building with a fast food restaurant.  Local activists convinced the brewery to continue looking for a buyer who would use the existing building.  The Dutchtown South Neighborhood Association took the lead in the battle to save the landmark and convinced the state to give the brewery a tax credit upon the donation of the property to the Association.

Susan and Martin Luepker, longtime residents of the neighborhood, took on the challenge of rehabbing the abandoned restaurant in 1993.  Sue and Marty restored wood, plaster, brick and tile work to its original state.  Once finished with the building, they took on the next phase -- furnishing it.  After much consideration, they devised a plan that would preserve even more St. Louis restaurant history.  The benches are from the old Dohack's Restaurant on Lemay Ferry Road.  The booths, bar chairs, and some marble tables are from the Nantucket Cove of the Central West End.  Some tables and chairs are from the dining room at Famous-Barr in Clayton; others are from the Missouri Athletic Club.   There is also crown moulding from the Top of the 230 in Clayton, as well as the elegant chandeliers that adorn the banquet room.  Brewery paraphernalia, such as paintings, beer trays and steins, antlers, old lanterns and other memorabilia add to the character of this revitalized Dutchtown establishment.  Today, with a nod to its former incarnation, this historic St. Louis Landmark is known as the Feasting Fox, and is once again a popular spot to eat -- and drink the beverage of your choice.

The name of the restaurant comes from the combination of the name known to St. Louis, Al Smith's, and the Feasting Fox, the symbol of hospitality which graces the side of the Anheuser Busch Brewery.

Recreating the Feasting Fox (Busch's Inn) for a 2002 Membership Stein was a perfect fit for the talents of stein artist Jim Wainwright.  Feasting Fox Restaurant and Gretchen's Banquet Facilities in St. Louis, Missouri - This image is the property of Anheuser Busch Incorporated.His remarkable illustration helps tell the story of the restaurant, taking a fond look back nearly 90 years.  In addition to painstakingly recreating all of the building's architectural details and embellishments, the Membership Stein also shows other neighborhood sights of the early 1900s:  homes, church steeples, a livery and blacksmith's shop, as well as residents and tradesmen (like the Budweiser delivery man and Innkeeper) going about their daily business.  In honor of the restaurant and its clientele, the stein also prominently features two typical Busch's Inn patrons of the time, exquisitely rendered in deep ceramic relief alongside the stein's handle.  And inset in the stein's pewter lid is a close-up view of the Inn itself.


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Feasting Fox Restaurant and Pub, Gretchen's Inn Banquet Facilities, St. Louis, Missouri

 

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2002 Membership Stein image used with permission from Anheuser Busch