by Ian Froeb
I shouldn't be the one to report this. I've spent way too much of my own money at 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar (1913 Park Avenue; 314-231-9463). I've had more great conversations about food, drink and restaurants there than I can possibly remember. I consider owner Jeff Stettner a good friend.
All of which are the reasons why I'm casting aside the usual strictures of journalistic objectivity. If you haven't personally experienced an evening, even just a drink, at 33, then you can't appreciate what an essential part of the St. Louis dining community it is -- and has been ever since Jake Hafner (now the proprietor of Civil Life Brewing Company) founded it.
Enough preliminaries. Here's the news: Stettner, who purchased 33 from Hafner a bit over four years ago, has just announced that he has sold the bar.
See Also: - March 2013 Issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine Features Four St. Louis Wine Bars - Great Values in St. Louis Wines: 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar
Gut Check is always hungry for more restaurant news. Feed us your tips.
In an email to patrons of 33 announcing the sale, Stettner expresses his desire to spend more time with his wife and (adorable -- damn that lack of objectivity again) three-year-old son. His decision is also in the best interests of the bar, he writes:
I know that I like supporting people just as much as I like supporting places... and much of the success of 33 comes from the foundation of hard work and constant oversight that was put into place long before I took the reigns.
33's new owner is James Smallwood, who Stettner describes as a Lafayette Square resident and a longtime customer of the bar. More germane to the operation of an acclaimed wine bar, location and history aside, Smallwood is also a certified sommelier.
Gut Check will have more on Smallwood and the future of 33 once he and Stettner have completed the transition of ownership. In the meantime, look for us -- by which we mean me, Ian -- at the bar. I'll be the guy trying to read the handwritten draft list with my weak-ass eyes and then giving up and just asking what's good tonight. They always know.