LADUE — Schneithorst’s Restaurant & Bar, a longtime Lindbergh Boulevard establishment with a distinctive German-themed facade and clock tower, is closing as new office and retail space takes its spot.
“I knew this day would come,” said owner Jim Schneithorst Jr. “There’s just no good time for something like this.”
The restaurant is slated to close at 3 p.m. on Dec. 24, management said.
Schneithorst’s — and its family name — has held a prominent place in St. Louis’ food scene for the better part of a century. The business at 1600 South Lindbergh Boulevard was built in 1956 by Arthur Schneithorst Jr. as the latest chapter in the family’s restaurant business.
The Schneithorsts already had a knack for German fare served in settings with styles to match. The business’ patriarch, Arthur Schneithorst Sr. operated Bevo Mill in the 1930s and 1940s — the landmark south St. Louis establishment that occupies a building with a windmill and vaulted dining hall.
Younger generations of Schneithorsts have kept the Ladue restaurant running in the decades since it opened. The spot gained popularity — making the rotation of preferred lunchtime haunts for Cardinals legend Stan Musial, and also hosting events such as the Halloween party for the St. Louis Blues.
Its closing was first reported by the St. Louis Business Journal.
The redevelopment of the site marks the end of the slow conversion of the Lindbergh property — once a complex that included the restaurant, bar and coffee house, plus multiple dining rooms and banquet halls — into other businesses, one piece at a time.
In 2002, Schneithorst announced his controversial decision to tear down much of the landmark restaurant.
“We had 40,000 square feet, nine banquet rooms and three dining rooms. It was a huge operation,” Schneithorst said after the project. “When we opened, there were just a few other restaurants around. But today, the competition is fierce.”
In 2005, construction wrapped up; 80% of the enterprise, including the Hofamberg Inn, well known for sauerbrauten and wiener schnitzel, was gone, replaced by high-end retail and office space.
Gone, too, were many of the original building’s paintings and collectibles — including a knight in armor, brought over from Europe — that contributed to the establishment’s atmosphere. Those items were auctioned off.
The Bierskellar bar and Kaffee Haus, which remained in operation, continued to undergo changes in recent years, including upgrades to the outdoor beer garden terrace in 2016.
About 40 employees work at the restaurant and bar, Schneithorst said.
He will retain ownership of the property, and said its redevelopment will resemble the mixed office and retail space that took root next door in 2005. Plans are still developing, but Schneithorst said he expects nine months of construction with hopes to finish by the end of 2020. That will include removal of the clock tower, as a roughly 2,000-square-foot expansion is added to the southern edge of the building.
Patrons reacted to the news with a range of emotions. Some murmured thanks and well wishes to staff, as they made their way to the exit — perhaps for a final time. Others said the closure comes as a nasty shock.
“It’s just another St. Louis landmark that is going to waste for a bigger Starbucks,” said Mary Morgan of Richmond Heights, as she entered on Friday — part of a tradition she has upheld for 10 to 20 years. “I think it’s really a shame. My high school friends and I would meet here every Friday after Thanksgiving. I don’t know where we’ll go.”
“It was always such a neat place,” added Janice Kolkovich of Staunton. “What a shame.”
Schneithorst said that over the last year or so, a combination of factors influenced his decision to leave the restaurant business — ranging from the changing nature of the competitive industry, to a personal desire to spend more quality time with his children.
He shared some of the sorrow on Friday, saying that he values the establishment’s role as a special place for ordinary outings as well as milestone events, such as anniversaries, birthdays and rehearsal dinners.
“That stings. It stings for me,” he said. “You gauge the importance of something by the emotion behind it.”