ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – They’ll party until the food and drink run out Saturday night into Sunday morning.
That’s how they’re planning to bring the curtain down on 24 years of operation at Johnny’s Restaurant and Bar, 1017 Russell Blvd. in Soulard.
Owner Johnny Daus says when he first started out in the restaurant business in the 1980s, he’d gladly work from open until close if need be.
But that was before his only child was born not long ago.
“I’m gonna take it easy a little bit, spend some time with my son,” Daus replied when asked about his immediate plans after the bar closes. “I’m 53 years old and I have a 2-year-old. Spend some time with him a little bit, with my wife, with my mom and dad.”
Daus realizes there were many customers who stepped through his door for the first time because of his bevy of scantily-clad waitresses, but many more who kept coming back for the food.
That includes many female customers who might have been put off by the wait staff’s outfits.
“That’s when their husbands would say, ‘No, we’re really going there for the food!'” he laughed. “Then they find out that my wings are, bar none, the best.”
He’s not exactly sure what’s next for himself professionally, but Daus knows he’ll stay in St. Louis — having grown up near the Anheuser-Busch brewery on Pestalozzi.
“True story: They walked the entire hitch of Clydesdales by my front door every morning when I was growing up,” he recalled.
In fact, as a tribute to Johnny they’ll actually bring a Clydesdale down to the bar Friday night, and then the final blowout Saturday night will go until there’s nothing left to eat or drink.
Bar cook James Steed, aka “Phat,” has worked for Daus for two decades.
How does he feel about it all coming to a close?
“It’s bittersweet,” he admitted. “They’re a good family to work for, and if he ever goes back into business I’ll work for him again.”
As for the bar itself, it’s set to reopen in early September as a Harpo’s.
“Phat” and the rest of the staff will be allowed to re-apply for their current jobs.