David Stokes

The May edition of Sauce Magazine has a wonderful article on liquor licenses in the St. Louis area. I really enjoyed it and recommend it highly. It discusses the manner of local control over the number of licenses and how establishments go about receiving them. I have no problem with some type of licensing for substances that fall under the general category of "controlled"; nor do I think there is anything wrong with various cities having their own systems of licensing. Every city is different, and neighborhoods within cities are different.

The City of St. Louis uses a neighborhood approval process for granting liquor licenses. There is no limit on the total number of licenses that can be issued if neighborhoods approve the granting of one for their area. Obviously, neighborhoods like the Central West End and Soulard are going to be more generous in granting licenses than St. Louis Hills, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Ladue, on the other hand, strictly limits the total number of licenses. There are seven licenses available for restaurants, most of which have been held by the same places forever. You can probably name all of them if you try: Schneithorsts, Busch's Grove, Sportman's Park, Truffles (one of the new ones), that one place at Clayton and I-64 that has been like 12 different bars — I remember it mostly as S and P Oyster Company — does Women's Exchanges still have a license? 

If I were going to recommend any changes it would be to get rid of state liquor licensing and leave all the regulation to local communities. The good news in St. Louis County for bar owners is that the county itself only regulates bars in the unincorportated area, so bars only need one local license to go along with the state license. I wonder how they do it in Jackson County. Do you need a state, county, and city license to operate a bar there? If you know, please feel free to e-mail me at david.stokes@showmeinstitute.org.

About the Author

David Stokes
David Stokes was a policy analyst at the Show-Me Institute from 2007 to 2014 and was director of development from 2014 to 2016.