ST. LOUIS — The City of St. Louis is cracking down on restaurants and bars that aren’t enforcing health orders meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.
At least three businesses have been ordered to shut down for a year and at least four others were served with orders to close for a month. Common complaints from tipsters at several of the businesses involved crowds of unmasked people not practicing social distancing.
St. Louis health department spokesperson Harold Bailey confirmed with 5 On Your Side that at least seven businesses were ordered to close. He also said there are others on the list. More details about additional closures will be added to this story as we receive them.
- 101 St. Louis Sports Spirits Sand, 1724 S. Broadway
- Bottom Line Sports Bar, 1530 S. Seventh Street
- DB Cooper’s Safe House, 6109 Gravois Ave.
- G&W Meat and Bavarian Sausage, 4828 Parker Ave. (allowed to reopen early)
- Keypers Piano Bar, 2280 Jefferson Ave.
- Omega Center, 3900 Goodfellow Blvd.
- Reign, 1122 Washington Ave.
- Six Stars Market, 8701 Riverview Blvd. (30-day period ends Friday)
- Sports Zone Bevo, 4600 Gravois Ave.
- The Midwestern, 900 Spruce Street
- Three Kings Bar & Grill, 2031 Bremen Avenue
- Top Notch Axe Throwing, 440 N. Fourth Street
- Midtown Bar & Grill, 2816 N. Vandeventer
- Start Bar, 1000 Spruce Street
- Wheelhouse, 1000 Spruce Street
The one-year closures go through Jan. 19, 2022.
Some of the first closure notices were served by Acting Health Director Dr. Fredrick Echols earlier this week to the popular downtown bars Wheelhouse and Start Bar, which have the same owners. He cited violations to social distancing and mask mandate health orders. And it wasn’t the first time the health department stepped in to force those businesses to close. The city has served closure notices to Wheelhouse and Start Bar on two other occasions, back in July and again in November. The bars shut down for two weeks each time.
The owners have fought back, saying they’re not “the mask police.” A lawsuit filed after the November closure ended with a judge siding with the city.
Friday morning, the owners shared a message on their Instagram pages for Wheelhouse, Start Bar and The Midwestern, which they also own. They said they appreciate the support they've received from the community and that they "need it now more than ever."
Message from Wheelhouse, Start Bar and The Midwestern:
"To our CUSTOMERS:
The City of St. Louis has issued The Wheelhouse and Start bar a one year business closure for refusing to treat you like children.
Since April of 2013 we have purposely created spaces for you to live your life as you choose. We have been respecting your rights as customers and sovereign individuals capable of making your own decisions.
Starting in May of 2020, we were ordered to be the mask police and micro manage your social interactions. We believe you all are free to make your own decisions."
The owners asked supporters to sign their online petition and urged them to reach out to Mayor Lyda Krewson's office.
A resident who lives near the bars, which are in the same building just blocks away from Busch Stadium, told 5 On Your Side crowds of people outside and inside the bars are common.
“If it’s a weekend when they’re open, you can't even use the front of the building. No mask, people acting a fool, not acting like we're in a pandemic, and we shouldn’t be spreading our germs,” said the resident who wished to remain anonymous. “The behaviors that got them shut down this time are behaviors that are happening pretty much every time they’re open, but people are afraid to speak out.”
Last summer, owner Jared Ater told 5 On Your Side he was considering leaving downtown over the restrictions and closures.
“All these customers are coming down here voluntarily and all our employees are coming to work voluntarily, so at some point I think we need to let people evaluate their own risk and start living their lives again,” said Ater at the time.
READ MORE: 'It's mind-blowing' | Witnesses describe crowds at 2 downtown bars ordered to close until 2022