BJ's Bar & Restaurant — and the neon Stag beer sign that hangs over its front door — is a Florissant landmark. Casual passersby may mistake the place for a rough-and-tumble roadhouse: The old brick building looks deserted from the outside, the shades on the lone, tiny window are always drawn, and it's hard to figure out how to get inside. For those in the know, however, BJ's is a beacon of cold beer and cheap eats. This quintessential corner tavern has been in the same family since 1955, and not much seems to have changed since then. Jay Russell, the "J" in BJ's, is still around, though at 80 years old, he no longer runs the place. That task is left to his daughter Jeanne, who holds court behind the bar, pouring stiff drinks and razzing the regulars who've been coming in for years. It's no wonder folks keep coming back. An ice-cold beer comes in at $1.35, and pint-glass-size mixed drinks are a mere $4.50 (and Jeanne doesn't skimp on the pour). But the booze is only part of the picture at BJ's. The neighborhood joint makes some of the best thin-crust pizza in town, served with (gasp) mozzarella cheese. Strike up a conversation with some of the regulars, and they just might invite you over to try a slice. It's that kind of place.
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