Ever wondered what happened to that restaurant you once loved and have memories of dining at with your family and friends? We did! And we discovered an amazing website called Lost Tables, dedicated to celebrating the restaurants of our past. We are partnering with the site's creator Harley Hammerman and celebrating these wonderful stories throughout the month of February.
Lost Tables | Garavelli's
Joe Garavelli first came to the United States from Italy in 1901 when he was 17 years old. He joined his two brothers, Ben and Charlie, in New York, where they had a bar and restaurant. But Garavelli got homesick and returned to Italy. When he came back to the United States a second time in 1903, his brothers had moved to St. Louis, and Garavelli followed.
Ben and Charlie Garavelli opened a cafe at Grand and Olive; their "Garavelli's" would remain in business until 1979. But Joe Garavelli struck out on his own. He opened a tavern on a vacant lot at the corner of DeBaliviere and DeGiverville in 1914, furnishing it with a splendid old-fashioned bar and mahogany paneled walls. At first, the only company he saw was the motorman on the streetcar which looped at DeBaliviere and went back to town. But as the neighborhood began building up, business picked up and Garavelli became THE place to go.
Garavelli was beginning to enjoy steady prosperity when Prohibition came along. While some tavern owners turned to bootlegging, Garavelli decided to stake his fortune on ham-and-cheese-on-rye.
In 1926, a big dining room with marble walls, a crystal chandelier and a marble fountain was added to the place, and Garavelli became an institution.