The Firebird Operated for Months with an Expired Liquor License Before Closing

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DANIEL HILL
  • DANIEL HILL


A few weeks ago, fans of The Firebird (2706 Olive Street, 314-535-0353) learned the disappointing news that the decade-old music venue had closed, with upcoming shows having been transferred to other local venues. When Riverfront Times broke the news, Firebird owner Jimmy Vavak told music editor Daniel Hill that he hoped to reopen the venue in 2020.


"We are currently reevaluating and restructuring the business to ideally come back stronger in the coming year," Vavak told Hill.


At the time, Vavak didn’t elaborate on why the venue was closing. After RFT posted news of the closure, we received several tips that the reason for the closing was related to the venue’s liquor license — or current lack thereof.



When reached by phone last week, St. Louis City Excise Commissioner Myles McDonnell confirmed that the Firebird’s city liquor license was considered out of business by his office as of June 24. Prior to confirming its closure on September 25, the Firebird had regularly hosted events advertising liquor for sale after the June 24 expiration date.


“We went by a couple of times and they were not open, and that would have been in the past week to ten days,” McDonnell says. “[The Firebird] had been advertising various events and concerts like that there, but we’ve been by a few times haven’t been able to verify that they were open and selling liquor.”


Riverfront Times was able to confirm with a show attendee that alcohol was sold to the public at the Bruiser Queen show at the Firebird on August 17, nearly two months after the club's liquor license expired.


As for the likelihood of the venue reopening in its previous location and with the same bar format?


“I wouldn’t think a [liquor-license] renewal would be appropriate at this point,” McDonnell says. “I try to work with people for a couple of weeks or however long it takes if they’re actually making an effort — but I don’t think these people are making the effort to try to renew the license.”


Multiple calls and emails to Vavak for comment in the past few days have gone unreturned. More as we learn it.


We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at liz@riverfronttimes.com.
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