Last Call For SLU College Bars

Graphic+Courtesy+of+Jack+Connaghan
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Last Call For SLU College Bars

Graphic Courtesy of Jack Connaghan

Graphic Courtesy of Jack Connaghan

Graphic Courtesy of Jack Connaghan

Graphic Courtesy of Jack Connaghan

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The saying ‘bad things come in threes’ has never been more true. Three of the staple college bars around SLU have closed their doors since 2017, leaving university students without a traditional college bar in sight.

The Library Annex, or “Lannex” as deemed by students, the vibrant late-night club and go-to for students and locals alike, joined two iconic establishments of the Midtown neighborhood, “Humphrey’s Restaurant & Tavern” and “Mi Caribe” when it closed its doors in the summer of 2019.

According to The Library Annex’s Facebook, the “last call” occurred June 8, leaving students without a familiar place to go when the fall semester started.

Students of SLU knew these bars rarely saw an empty night on the weekends.. If anything, they were gaining exposure from hosting student events and serving as the center of the social experience at SLU. Was this enough to keep their doors open?

Megan Saksefski, a 2014 SLU alumna, discusses the previous student social life in Midtown. Although she was more than excited to talk about her college dive bar, Saksefski was disappointed to hear it had closed since her graduation.

“Nearly every major celebration or night out began or ended at Humphrey’s. I would dare to say it was the social center of campus,” Saksefski said during our interview.

She was worried about the current situation of students traveling off-campus for night-life. Saksefski mentioned, “Going anywhere at night carries some risk, especially if drinking is involved. One of the reasons Humphrey’s was so great was because it was so close and within a safe walking distance. I worry for students that constantly have to travel long distances just to get together.”

The Executive Director of St. Louis Midtown Redevelopment Corp., Brooks Goedeker, led the charge for “The Grove” neighborhood development, taking it from six businesses on the main strip to now 86 parcels of development.

St. Louis developers would previously tell him, “Midtown is good only about seven to eight months out of the year when students are there”

This is how Midtown turned into a waiting game. They are waiting for that density to emerge from locals moving to Midtown, so they can attract new bars and restaurants, but it is not that kind of neighborhood, yet.

“Because of the new SLU Hospital, The City Foundry, The Armory, the momentum is finally there. Now becoming a 365-day district,” Goedecker claims.

New developments, like The City Foundry with a scheduled opening in Spring 2020, promise to bring new life to Midtown. Through an outdoor beer garden, international eats, and a new version of the famous Chicago bar “Punch Bowl Social,” they hope to create a vibrant area for students and locals alike.

“Students are starving for something right now,” Goedecker remarks.

Currently, SLU students resort to the danger of traveling to different neighborhoods across St. Louis instead of having a relevant place near their university. Students have to travel by Uber and Lyft, outside of the jurisdiction of the SLU Department of Public Safety, to find a college-type bar.

Still, the hard question remains on every SLU student’s mindwhy did Humphrey’s, Mi Caribe and Lannex close?

Ultimately, it was a question of time and resources. The plot of land with the vacant Humphrey’s was passed through two different owners since its closing in 2017 and frankly, no one knows exactly what the future holds. The operating owner sold her business and retired, without intention on keeping the doors open.

Goedecker says on behalf of Midtown redevelopment and SLU, “We would be fully supportive of a bar/restaurant going into that space.”

As for the Library Annex, only making money from Thursday to Saturday wasn’t able to sustain the bar year-round. The owners decided to close it and are currently seeking out developers to take over their building on a busy corner.

“With The City Foundry, we are hoping students adopt that as a place to go,” Goedecker mentioned, optimistic for the future of this development.

The new development might breathe new life into the Midtown neighborhood, giving students and locals alike a new venue to enjoy. SLU might not be the enemy. It might be the time-sensitive neighborhood it sits upon.

“If Humphrey’s tomorrow wanted to reopen, we can’t stop that as existing development. And we wouldn’t stop it anyway.” Goedecker said.