As of last week, Three Flags Tavern is no longer offering lunch service. Lunch business has been down at the much-lauded restaurant at the corner of Kingshighway and Vandeventer/Southwest since the closure of the Kingshighway Bridge, but Proprietor John O'Brien is trying to make the most of it. "We decided to fully focus on our dinner and brunch services, which happily have remained very busy," O'Brien said in a press release.
Developments like the closure of the Chrysler plant, opening of Ballpark Village or closure of the Kingshighway Bridge have consequences for nearby restaurants — some good and some bad. Whatever the merits of this particular project, some nearby restaurants are struggling with the decrease in traffic.
A number of restaurants on The Hill and in the Southwest Garden neighborhood told Riverfront Times they are particularly frustrated with the signage on I-44. While drivers may briefly travel south on Kingshighway to Shaw Avenue, some feel the language of "Kingshighway closed at Shaw" is misleading and detrimental to traffic.
Dinner service may not be as severely affected by the closure, which is expected to last two years, but limited time for lunch makes the trip south of the bridge impossible for many in the busy medical center of the Central West End.
No restaurants may be hit harder than lunch-only spots like Adriana's. Tia Zanti of Adriana's told Riverfront Times that business is down 25-30%. Summer is always their busiest season, but business has slowed since the bridge closure.
It's not bad news for everyone. As the Kingshighway Bridge detour runs down Vandeventer, Terry Clanton, Owner of World's Fair Donuts, said he hasn't seen any noticeable change in business. He expected the closure to be a problem, but it hasn't turned out quite like that. While rush hour traffic makes it difficult for people to get in and out during peak hours, the detour is bringing new people by the little shop at 1904 Vandeventer.
It would be a shame for St. Louis to lose any of these restaurants over the next couple of years. We might just have to visit The Hill and Southwest Garden for lunch once or twice next week to support a couple of the many great restaurants in this little pocket of the city.