I shouldn't be the one to report this. I've spent way too much of my own money at 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar (1913 Park Avenue; 314-231-9463). I've had more great conversations about food, drink and restaurants there than I can possibly remember. I consider owner Jeff Stettner a good friend.
All of which are the reasons why I'm casting aside the usual strictures of journalistic objectivity. If you haven't personally experienced an evening, even just a drink, at 33, then you can't appreciate what an essential part of the St. Louis dining community it is -- and has been ever since Jake Hafner (now the proprietor of Civil Life Brewing Company) founded it.
Enough preliminaries. Here's the news: Stettner, who purchased 33 from Hafner a bit over four years ago, has just announced that he has sold the bar.
See Also: - March 2013 Issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine Features Four St. Louis Wine Bars - Great Values in St. Louis Wines: 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar
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In an email to patrons of 33 announcing the sale, Stettner expresses his desire to spend more time with his wife and (adorable -- damn that lack of objectivity again) three-year-old son. His decision is also in the best interests of the bar, he writes:
I know that I like supporting people just as much as I like supporting places... and much of the success of 33 comes from the foundation of hard work and constant oversight that was put into place long before I took the reigns.
33's new owner is James Smallwood, who Stettner describes as a Lafayette Square resident and a longtime customer of the bar. More germane to the operation of an acclaimed wine bar, location and history aside, Smallwood is also a certified sommelier.
Gut Check will have more on Smallwood and the future of 33 once he and Stettner have completed the transition of ownership. In the meantime, look for us -- by which we mean me, Ian -- at the bar. I'll be the guy trying to read the handwritten draft list with my weak-ass eyes and then giving up and just asking what's good tonight. They always know.
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