The downtown restaurant/bar casualties just keep coming.
On the heels of Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood (closing Jan. 30), Prime 1000, the Dubliner and Joe Buck’s shuttering, comes word that Harry’s Restaurant & Bar will close after a celebration Jan. 29-30.
Harry’s co-owner Tim Pieri confirmed to the Post-Dispatch that the sprawling complex at 2144 Market Street will close after nearly two decades. Harry’s includes a dining area along with a patio and the Horizon at Harry’s nightclub.
Pieri cited a familiar scenario: “It’s the economy, the highway closing, Ballpark Village. Downtown is just a dead area right now, unfortunately. Obviously, the sad part is nobody is talking about it. Iconic places are going out of business, and nobody cares.
“Ballpark Village was the nail in the coffin. It shut down Washington Avenue and took 70 percent of our business. We thought it would be more like 10 or 20 percent. It took the people left who were coming to downtown.”
He said the closing of Highway 40 (Interstate 64) for construction in various stages between 2007 and 2009 affected Harry’s because “St. Louisans are creatures of habit. When it was closed for 2½ years, they went elsewhere.”
Pieri thinks there’s a downward swing that will continue until downtown books more conventions and brings crime under control. “People are afraid to come downtown,” he said.
The last couple of years have been especially rough for Harry’s, and the venue did everything it could to keep it going, including special parties. “It was good, but it was a short-term goal rather than a long-term goal,” Pieri said.
Horizon at Harry’s, which opened in 2012, had become the primary source of revenue at Harry’s. The club focused on EDM and party DJs. The fine-dining aspect was fizzling, leading to the restaurant’s move to casual dining.
Pieri said he is working on his next venture, though he hasn’t revealed details. It may or may not be downtown, and it most likely will be on a smaller scale than Harry’s.
“Smaller is better,” he said. “There’s lower overhead, and it looks busier. A bigger place doesn’t look as busy.”
On Jan. 29, Harry’s will celebrate with a return by the first band to perform at Harry’s, Shrinking Violets, along with several DJs who’ve performed there over the years. Happy hour starts at 4 p.m. that day, with the band and DJs at 9 p.m.
Jan. 30 is a night to reminisce and drink with Harry’s staffers, DJs and Harry Belli, beginning at 6 p.m.
“A lot of people haven’t been here in so long and just want to come down,” Pieri said. “This was the place to be. People met there, got engaged there, and it’s definitely a landmark in St. Louis.”