Schneithorst’s is closing and with it, the beloved rooftop bar, the Kaffee Haus, and classic German fare. The southeast corner of Lindbergh Boulevard and Clayton Road just won’t be the same.

Schneithorst’s history stretches back more than a century. Arthur Schneithorst worked at the Planters Hotel before striking out on his own in 1917 by opening Benish’s Restaurant. It succumbed to the Depression, but the strong-minded restaurateur returned with the Rock Grill. In 1937, he bought Bevo Mill. The Schneithorsts lived there for a number of years, entertaining, among others, nationally known food writer Clementine Paddleford, who offered the recipe for herring salad in her syndicated column. Schneithorst’s son practiced law for a year before joining his dad in the business. Arthur Jr. began providing food for in-flight meals and the restaurant at what was then Lambert Field in 1940. After the war came Big Bevo, a drive-in at 2120 Hampton, which served double- and triple-patty burgers.

In 1956, the family opened the Hofamberg Inn at the location where Schneithorst’s now stands. The restaurant spanned 40,000 square feet, including dining rooms, a bar, and reception halls. The location pretty much guaranteed business, and the menu of German and American dishes worked well for mid-century St. Louis. It became a regular spot for business lunches, wedding receptions, and family dinners. It became the focus and eventually the sole location of the family business.

By the time the restaurant was renamed Schneithorst’s, in the ’60s, teenagers would cruise the drive-in on the south end of the building, hanging out of their convertibles American Graffiti-style, pulling in for burgers, fries, and sodas, according to one self-confessed “Schneity-packer,” the nickname for the fun-loving fans who’d pack the joint on a nightly basis.

In recent times, Schneithorst’s was known for business breakfasts, which led to much table-hopping under the guise of networking. The menu refers to appetizers as vorspiesen, even though the first item listed was toasted ravioli. The restaurant was the longtime morning hangout of former St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Jerry Berger, who would schmooze and pick up tidbits. It wasn’t hard to see recognizable faces there, including Stan Musial, who often lunched at Schneithorst’s after retiring.

In the early 2000s, much of the building was taken down to make way for retail and offices. The pastel faux-rustic coffee shop, which got a major redo that year for the daytime traffic, was a far cry from the dimly lit, wood-beamed dining rooms of days gone by. The crowd grew older over the years on the ground-floor level, but the high-gabled bar on the roof still drew a younger crowd, especially when the weather was right.

Recently, though, the owners finally decided to close the restaurant’s doors. Schneithorst’s will serve its last meal on Christmas Eve, a fitting day to reflect on many fond memories.

The post As Schneithorst’s prepares to close, a longtime dining critic reminisces – St. Louis Magazine appeared first on CoffeeNearMe.