Start Bar Opens Its Doors This Week, Mixing Booze and Arcade Fun



Start Bar
(1000 Spruce Street), a new concept from the creators of Wheelhouse, was finally able to open its doors this week on Wednesday, July 13. And it was well worth the wait.

This hangout spot could not be more different from Harpo’s 
Columbia, the place where owners Lou Groff, Stephen Savage and Jared Ater got their start a few years back. As their tastes have matured over the years with the birth of Wheelhouse Clayton, Wheelhouse Downtown and now Start Bar, these owners have truly gotten back to their roots with their most unique creation yet.

The 5,000-square-foot space is the perfect mixture of past and present. Marketing company AtomicDust did an impeccable job at combining two vastly different time periods, with little pieces of nostalgia and modern décor coexisting in perfect harmony.

Clunky arcade games and pinball machines stand alongside grungy, modern artwork. Original Nintendo 64s fully equipped with Mario Kart and more go perfectly with hand-tossed pizzas and carefully crafted boozey shakes. The place is a gamer-turned-adult’s dream, to say the least.

“It felt like a natural progression,” says Chef Nick Del Gaiso, a man who has been just as involved with Start Bar’s creation as the owners. “The late-night scene really wears on you as you grow up, and getting back to our roots with a simple hangout spot like the ones we remember as kids was the next step for us.”  

Chef Nick Del Gaiso (center) cracks a smile with Start Bar owners and contributors. - PHOTO BY NATALIE RAO
  • Photo by Natalie Rao
  • Chef Nick Del Gaiso (center) cracks a smile with Start Bar owners and contributors.

Start Bar really is a perfect hangout spot, and it’s not only because of the wide selection of games. It’s the little quirks about it, like the marquee-sign-turned-menu that was found in an old barn somewhere in Missouri, or their Rice Krispie-esque treats made solely out of Cheetos. Everything is made locally, from the beer to the barstools, giving the place even more of a homey feel.

It also isn’t just a place to pay homage to the childhood days; this bar's creation is apart of a continued mission to bolster St. Louis’ downtown. Although the arcade bar idea has been done before, Start Bar is the first of it’s kind in St. Louis, and was created in a way that is sure to keep business booming.

“It really is all about getting people to come downtown,” 
says Del Gaiso. “The whole area needs the business, and more people should be comfortable to open up their own places in the city, too.”  

A place like this presents a unique opportunity for a different crowd to head downtown. For those who aren’t as keen on trekking to nightclubs or Ballpark Village, Start Bar is the perfect location to relax after a long week or simply to game the night away.  

Even with a massive storm knocking down trees, power lines and more all over St. Louis, the opening day of Start Bar drew a sizable crowd. If this is any indication of the future, things are looking pretty bright.

Start Bar is open Wednesday-Friday from 4p.m.-1a.m and Saturday-Sunday from 12p.m.-1a.m. Turn the page for more first look photos!

  • Photo by Natalie Rao
  • Photo by Natalie Rao
  • Photo by Natalie Rao
  • Photo by Natalie Rao

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