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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

You Could Buy the Bevo Mill

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 6:45 AM

click to enlarge You could buy the Bevo Mill and make it awesome. - DOYLE MURPHY
  • Doyle Murphy
  • You could buy the Bevo Mill and make it awesome.

If you’re ever going to open that nouveau German, windmill-themed concept restaurant you won’t shut up about, now is your time.

The city is looking for someone to take over the Bevo Mill at 4749 Gravois Road and reopen it to the public. The wonderfully weird south St. Louis landmark, which turns 100 this year, boasts four dining/banquet rooms, a full kitchen, office space and a two-story apartment that the city thinks would make a pretty sweet bed and breakfast.

Beer baron August Busch Sr. built the place in 1916 so he’d have a pit stop on his commute from the brewery to his Grant’s Farm home. He used the downstairs Mill Room as his personal dining hall.

And now you could run it! You’re not going to get a long-dead captain of industry’s hangout for nothing, however. Anheuser-Busch transferred it to the city for $1 in 2008, but that bargain has passed.

The city’s request for proposals calls for the new tenant to invest $1 million into renovations and upkeep during a five-year span. If you want to buy it, the asking price is $500,000, and the city would still want you to put $1 million into the building over two years.

A restaurant, open daily to the public, should be part of the plan, according to the city’s rules of engagement. Buyers should probably think about opening a microbrewery too, the solicitation says.

The old tenants, L&M Catering, hosted Sunday brunches and — for a time — Friday dinners, but mainly focused on special events after taking over in 2009. Partner Milan Manjencich, a prominent chef and the public face of the business, told a reporter a year ago they had spent about $500,000 in renovations. 

“Everybody from the city on down told me the renovation would cost about this much, but when it came to fruition it was about five times as much,” he said in a Smart Business interview in April 2015. “It’s been a large investment on our part.”

So this isn’t going to come easy for you. Manjencich left town abruptly for Arizona, and his silent partner isn’t interested in taking over, says Jennifer Gierhart, who expects to take partial ownership of a catering branch of the business and move it to a new location. That venture, Gourmet FoodWorks, is still using the Bevo Mill kitchen for catering off-site events, but Gierhart says they’re basically just watching over the building until someone new comes along.

“Hopefully we can get someone in here, and we can have a good transition,” Gierhart says.

So there’s your opening. You should totally buy the Bevo Mill, open it to the public and make it awesome. We need a new pit stop on the way home from work, too.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected] or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

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