Three St. Louis companies have submitted proposals to take over the iconic Bevo Mill.
L&M Catering, which operates Gourmet Food Works, a corporate caterer in University City, and Gourmet Food Works Deli in Clayton; Kukic LLC, which operates Taft Street Restaurant; and Orlando’s Banquets & Catering have submitted bids to lease and operate the South St. Louis restaurant, said Otis Williams, deputy executive director for the St. Louis Development Corp.
Milan Manjencich, co-owner of L&M, said Bevo Mill was a fixture of his childhood, when he and his Yugoslavian family would go to the restaurant to eat the Bavarian cuisine on special occasions.
“Growing up in St. Louis, you drove by it at least twice a week,” Manjencich said. “You’d see the windmill as a little kid and get excited.”
Manjencich, the former food and beverage director at another local landmark, the Admiral riverboat and casino, said restaurateurs “dream of locations like (Bevo Mill) when you’re in this business.”
Manjencich proposes rebuilding Bevo Mill’s catering business, holding Sunday brunches and hosting holiday celebrations with some Bavarian and less traditional food.
He’d like to phase in opening the property as a restaurant and hold Friday night dinner dances with jazz bands.
Sadik Kukic is owner of Kukic LLC, which operates Taft Street Restaurant and used to operate Gulf Coast Café. He would have a homecoming of sorts if the city picks his proposal. Kukic used to work as a line cook at Bevo Mill in 1996.
He envisions a place for weddings, Sunday brunches and a cigar and cognac bar on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Kukic, a leader of the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce in St. Louis, wants to break away from Bevo Mill’s traditional German food and serve steaks and seafood instead. He also wants to convert the upstairs apartments into a bed-and-breakfast.
Orlando’s Banquets & Catering submitted a plan to cater weddings and other events at Bevo Mill.
“We’re not interested in running it as a restaurant, which is what I think the city wants,” said Michael Orlando, vice president and son of owner Sam Orlando Sr. “That’s a risky proposition in this day and age. We want to do what we do best: cater.”
Williams said the development corporation would form a committee to examine the three proposals and plans to make a decision by the end of May.
David Gilbert and Patrick Viehmann operated the restaurant at Bevo Mill, at 4749 Gravois Ave., and had leased the property from Anheuser-Busch until January, when the brewer transferred the land to the city for a dollar. The city then became the restaurant’s landlord.
August Busch Sr. built the restaurant and five-story windmill in 1916 halfway between his home at Grant’s Farm and the brewery to entertain associates and use as a private dining hall.
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