ST. LOUIS — A group of Busch family heirs are looking to more than double attendance at Grant's Farm over the next five years, part of their push to turn the iconic South County tourist destination into a self-sustaining operation.
In order to come up with strategies, it's operating as a startup, its leader said, and plans to conduct long-range planning and hire consultants.
"We are exploring new and creative ways to keep the guest experience enjoyable for visitors of all ages while being mindful of past traditions that generations of St. Louisans have come to expect and love,” said Doug Stagner, who serves as Grant's Farm's first president.
Grant’s Farm, the longtime South St. Louis County estate of former Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch Sr., the father of Gussie Busch, today serves as an animal preserve and tourist attraction, featuring a German-inspired village and the brewery's famous Clydesdales.
Prior to the pandemic, Grant's Farm averaged about 500,000 visitors a year, but the property closed to the public during Covid-19 restrictions in 2020. It hosted about 250,000 visitors in 2021, with a 50% increase over that pace so far this year.
The current financial situation of Grant's Farm is unclear. A 2010 National Park Service report said it generated $4.2 million in revenue in 2008, but had a net cost after revenue of between $3.5 million and $4 million.
Stagner declined to provide more recent data on Grant's Farm's finances, but acknowledged challenges.
“The goal is to increase attendance and revenue for the sole purpose of generating money we can put back into Grant’s Farm and just be self-sustaining,” he said, adding that the park's new ownership group "is committed to preserving Grant’s Farm for generations to come, and they are investing substantially to preserve this landmark."
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