Ryder's Tavern (4123 Chippewa Street; 314-899-9343) opened its doors in Tower Grove South on November 19 in the spot many south-city dwellers recall as the former Bleeding Deacon, a bar and restaurant that shuttered its doors in 2011. Make no mistake, however: This new venture isn't meant to recreate that experience. Ryder's Tavern has an identity all its own, one that revels in a bounty of draft beers, minimal distractions, and a small selection of simple yet hearty soups and sandwiches.
"It's comfortable, we don't have any TVs, and it's dark and low key. I wanted a place where you could just come in, get a drink and hang out," says owner Ryder Murphy. "I love this bar and feel like I finally have a home after twenty years in the business. This is what I want to be doing until I'm too old to get around."
Murphy partners with co-owners Adam Hesed and Nicole Casper, two south-city residents who also put in their fair share of time manning local bars including Mangia Italiano (3145 South Grand Boulevard; 314-664-8585), where they all met.
The guts of the old Deacon remain, providing a foundation for the new business to build upon without many major renovations. A couple coats of fresh paint and freshly installed tile floors give the tavern a brand-new sheen, while details like drum cymbals hung upon light fixtures and pieces of an old piano built into the bar's shelving offer up subtle, unique touches. To coincide the music-tinged vibe, a classic jukebox sits in a corner blasting classics, and vinyl records occupy a ledge on the far wall as fodder for DJ nights.
Behind the bar, visitors will find sixteen draft beers to choose from including options from local favorites Civil Life and Schlafly. The rest of the drink selection sticks with straightforward standards: a couple of bourbons and wines here, some spirits there.
In the kitchen, chef Ted Frerker cooks up a small, rotating menu of soups and sandwiches -- just look to the chalkboard menu beside the bar to see what's currently on special. During our visit, a classic Reuben paired nicely with a cup of wholesome broccoli-cauliflower soup. A grilled-cheese sandwich is another option, along with an "Alsatian Dawg," a Nathan's hot dog on a pretzel croissant with sauerkraut and spicy mustard.
Ryder's Tavern's current hours are Monday through Tuesday from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; Wednesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 12 a.m. For more information, follow Ryder's Tavern on Facebook.
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