Illustration by Matt Lehman
The original Busch’s Grove began as a stagecoach stop. It evolved into a dining room and de facto clubhouse for the well-heeled neighborhoods around its location at Clayton and South Price roads. The restaurant often served Veiled Prophet queens, captains of industry, and those who’d just finished a round at the surrounding country clubs.
The staff knew who belonged. Years ago, a man I accompanied wore a threadbare Brooks Brothers suit to dinner there. After years living in Boston, he insisted that was what Old Money wore. I have never experienced such chilly service at a restaurant.
Behind the restaurant lay screened pavilions for dining, known sometimes as “monkey houses.” Their faux-rusticity was very popular, serving as a reminder of what St. Louis summers were like before air conditioning.
What did the elite meet to eat? Beef, apparently. Reports of prime rib, steaks, and cottage fries abound. Beer and cocktails flowed freely.
To answer the inevitable question: No, it was never connected to the brewery. Another Busch family owned it early in the 20th century.