Three Flags Tavern Gears Up to Open Near the Hill



The idea looming behind Three Flags Tavern is that a bar doesn't have to sacrifice great food. Owners John and Cathy O'Brien are set to open their neighborhood hangout at 4940 Southwest Avenue on March 25.

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"I wanted to put a bar together and do food in a small setting -- the idea was to assemble a small staff of seasoned, professional people that want to do the best possible job. I'm kind of going against the idea of the large format restaurant," John O'Brien tells Gut Check.

Even the name is rooted in St. Louis' history. Three Flags Day is March 9 and 10; it's the date in 1804 when the United States, France and Spain got together in St. Louis to transfer the ownership of the upper Louisiana Territory. You know, that little thing called the Louisiana Purchase.

"Since we had some French elements, American and Spanish influence in the food," O'Brien says, "and it's not classically French or classically Spanish but Americanized takes on those influences, we thought Three Flags was a good name and unifying concept."

It's basically from-scratch comfort food, but O'Brien says he wrote a menu that is conducive to drinking. It is a bar, after all. He admits the menu is a little scattered, but he had it planned out before they even locked down a location.

"I think a restaurant comes from what the menu is. Menu drives everything -- service, hospitality ambience," he says." The tavern's soft opening is this weekend, March 21-22, and it will open to the public on Tuesday, March 25 at 4 p.m.

O'Brien has been working in food for about 30 years, since he was a teenager, and he co-owned a brewpub in Vermont, but this is really his first restaurant.

"I don't know that I always dreamt of having my own place, but I'm comfortable owning it and doing it. It seemed like the right time," he says. "I'll tell you one thing -- it seemed to me that the menu I'm going to offer seems more relevant today than it did ten years ago. The dining public is a different person than it was ten years ago. I feel more comfortable offering this now."

Follow Three Flags' Facebook page for updates and let us know if you check it out this weekend! The soft opening is reservation-only; call 314-669-9222 or email

Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at or follow her on Twitter.

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