Lemmons to Close, Owner Says "The Real Problem...Is Me"

lemmons2.jpg
Last call. | Jessica Lussenhop

Word began spreading rapidly last night that Lemmons (5800 Gravois Avenue; 314-481-4812), the beloved bar, pizza joint and music venue in the Bevo Mill area, is closing.

Owner Michael Gross says he came to the decision, then began telling staff members individually yesterday. He says there are many financial and personnel-related reasons for the closure, but ultimately, it came down to one factor.

"The bottom line is the owner just wore out -- I'm worn out financially, worn out physically, just the stress of running a small business," he says. "The reality is, as with anything in life, there's an upside and downside.... As soon as you can no longer see the upside, that's the time to get out."

See also: Lola Announces June 22 Closure

Here's what appeared on the Lemmons Facebook page this morning:

If loving you is wrong.....come to our last trivia.lemmons has thrown in the towel, and while we love you , and enjoy selling you drinks... we will be selling what we have and not buying more.come thursday and friday for your last chance at a lemmons pizza .j will be cooking those nights, come say goodbye to denny.peace out.end transmission.

Gross says business in the last year has been terrible. That went for both the bar and the restaurant, but the music side of things took a particularly big hit.

"Since about this time last year we began to see a precipitous decline in attendance for the bands. There could be lots of reasons for that, could be there's more venues," he says. "Business is down in general, but the killer, the dramatic difference is, I believe, I didn't do a good job of putting the right people in a position to book the right bands."

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Jessica Lussenhop

Gross' plan is to stay open and continue making pizzas and selling beer until the product runs out.

"When we run out of mozzarella cheese we're going to stop making pizzas. When the bar only has triple sec and amaretto, we're going to close the bar," he says. "My best guess is -- and this is a pull-it-out-of-the-air kind of guess -- we will be closing the kitchen after Saturday and closing the bar sometime midweek."

Meanwhile the mourning has begun. There's already a lengthy thread about it on St. Louis Reddit and hints that some people would like to start a "Save Lemmons" campaign. Gut Check asked Gross if "saving Lemmons" is anything he's interested in.

"I don't think so. It's a nice thought, it's very flattering, but any type of short-term fix or short-term boost doesn't fix the real problem at Lemmons, and the real problem at Lemmons is me," he says. "I need to sell it to somebody who has the energy...a couple of shekels, and can put a little money in, fix the place up and go at it with fresh energy."

Gross says because the decision was made public less than 24 hours ago, he has not yet spoken to any potential buyers.

The last Thursday night trivia is tonight, and we're sure St. Louis will show up in droves to cry into their beers. Just remember -- the faster you drink Gross out of stock, the sooner Lemmons closes.

Follow Jessica Lussenhop on Twitter at @Lussenpop. E-mail the author at Jessica.Lussenhop@RiverfrontTimes.com.



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102 comments
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nataliemdann

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Al-ex Huck
Al-ex Huck

I'm so glad this place is closing. I was assaulted there and the "security" did nothing.

dustin_mitchell
dustin_mitchell

Best wishes to you on future endeavors. I have one been there once but enjoyed it when I did visit.

Ellen Cook
Ellen Cook

"I put booking in the wrong hands." Bullshit.

megarock
megarock

The neighborhood around there changed drastically in the past 10 - 15 years. American food and bars are a dying breed around there. Unless you're a Bosnian related restaurant or bar you're not going to survive much longer. Most places got out of there years ago. It's a shame to see yet another legendary place fall but when everyone abandons their neighborhood someone will come along and take over and in most cases everything around there will change. This is just part of that. 

Sarah Elizabeth
Sarah Elizabeth

My friend Larry told me last night. I feel bad but it was a long time coming

microminimalist
microminimalist

While I am saddened to see Lemmon's close - many great memories! - I am more saddened to see someone I have great respect for thrown under the bus. Brian Fleschute is a true professional, and always treated me and my bands with incredible respect and dedication, whether there were three people in the audience or thirty (let's face it, we never had more than thirty). He is extremely easy to work with, and creates a really positive environment for the musicians he books and runs sound for. Names aren't named in the above article, but those who've been around the STL music scene for a long time know Brian well. I hope he gets to tell his side of the story, too.

Raymond Oliver
Raymond Oliver

I heard last night, does anybody remember laughter!?

rkevenchance
rkevenchance

@kylcorb & gangloff7: I find it hard to have compassion for a man who did this to his self. As someone who bartended at Lemmons, organized benefits, worked door, etc. I know first hand the "business" ways of Mike Gross. The man was NEVER at Lemmons except to collect money during non business hours. He didn't give two shits about his employees or patrons. He treated many valuable people with no respect and basically fu*ked them in the ass. The people who work and have worked at Lemmons are the only reason it has stayed a float this long. Have compassion for the employees who are losing their jobs, not the man who ran it into the ground.

Tony Merklin
Tony Merklin

My Family went to Lemmon's Restaurant ever since I could remember.......I Always Hated that Place..........

Jake Black
Jake Black

Yup :( if heavy anchor could get black thorn pizza it could be the spiritual successor

Jessi Price
Jessi Price

Katherine Gettinger - he better. Also, while you are out at a bar watching the game, I am stuck in clinic about to see your unhappy engineer MF patient that used to be in monovision... Fun times. Haha.

dalediversity
dalediversity topcommenter

Maybe he should have banned smoking  

Nakia Simpson
Nakia Simpson

I’m so excited I just received my power stripes in the mail and now it’s my time to help people with the pain they are feeling as well as make money from home! It’s my time to stat living live and doing what’s right for people! If this sounds like something you would like to start doing inbox me for more info!

sprontos
sprontos

Mike Gross' statement is borderline bullsh*t. As a longtime patron, band member, neighbor, close friend to many employees and often times volunteer employee, I can personally attest to the fact that Mr Gross is an absentee owner who has no idea what goes on at Lemmons. In the decade+ that I've been a customer and active musician who has played there on countless nights, I have NEVER ONCE seen him there. To lay blame on the employees and booking is beyond douchery. I went in on my own time to help Brian reconfigure the stage to better accommodate the bands. I personally cleaned dripping water from the roof out of the drop ceiling that was leaking onto a performer during a show. I spent my personal time fixing the drain pan from the draft beer dispenser. Was Mike there for any of this? No. What a joke. The blame for Lemmons closing falls firmly in his lap and blaming everyone but himself just goes to show how out of touch he is.

Jessi Price
Jessi Price

Katherine Gettinger oh no! Where will you go for trivia?

gangloff7
gangloff7

@sprontos He literally blames himself. Its right there. Read the damn article. Sorry to hear about your business Mike. We'll miss it. 

sprontos
sprontos

@gangloff7 You're right, he does accept some of the blame, but still goes on to blame the people who were there every day, actually trying to make things work with no leadership. He blames himself for being "worn out" from doing NOTHING. 


"...but the killer, the dramatic difference is, I believe, I didn't do a good job of putting the right people in a position to book the right bands."


^^^^^^BULLSHIT^^^^^^


He had the right person, but gave him zero support and unreasonable expectations.

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