Anheuser-Busch faced a new threat at the dawn of the twentieth century. For decades, the venerable brewery on Pestalozzi Street had battled rival brewers such as the Lemps, but its new enemy didn't brew beer. Quite to the contrary, the Temperance movement sought the annihilation of beer in St. Louis and the entire country. August Busch correctly predicted that the goal of the anti-alcohol zealots, Prohibition, would prove to be the greatest existential threat to the future of his brewery.
For most of the history of America, drinking alcohol in public remained a strictly male pastime. Saloons served as gathering places for men supposedly neglecting their familial duties after work. Busch realized the consumption of alcohol in St. Louis needed a public-relations makeover; ever the hustler, he tackled the challenge with the Busch characteristic need for innovation. First, he began to promote the corporate icon of the Feasting Fox, or Bevo, from traditional German myth. Likewise, also looking back to the Old Country, Anheuser-Busch sought to redefine public drinking in America with a series of "family-friendly" drinking establishments.
Borrowing from German half-timber construction, or fachwerk, the new restaurants sought to not only to project a more wholesome image, but also to embrace Busch's European heritage. The new restaurants abandoned the dark interiors of saloons, substituting them with bright, light-filled interiors and hearty German meals. Placed in strategic locations throughout the rapidly expanding Dutchtown and Bevo neighborhoods, the heart of German St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch began its most daring experiment in community relations.
Continue to read more about Busch's new restaurants.
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