Why Busch Built the Bevo Mill

An early newspaper ad for the Bevo Mill.

With the reopening of the Bevo Mill as Das Bevo, many have repeated a story that August Busch Sr. built it as a place to stop during for his 10-mile jaunt between the family estate at Grant’s Farm and the Anheuser-Busch brewery at Arsenal Street and South Broadway.   The fact is, it’s not true. August Busch Sr. might have stopped off every once in a while on the way home. But that wasn’t its reason for being.

It was actually a way to fight off the rising tide of Prohibition, by demonstrating that it was possible to have a proper meal and maybe a beer or drink or two in a pleasant atmosphere.

I discovered this while I was doing research on the Bevo Mill for my book Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis’s South Side. I found more evidence of this fact recently, when I came across an article in which August Busch, Sr. discussed the reasons he built the Bevo Mill. The article, published in the Post-Dispatch seven months before the German restaurant opened in late June 1917, spells out his reasons. An excerpt is below.

An excerpt from an article in the Nov. 22, 1916 issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, with the headline, BUSCH OUTLINES PLAN TO RESIST DRY MOVEMENT. “Deusche wirtschaft” means “German Saloon.”

The words in a newspaper article printed more than 100 years ago make it clear why the beer baron erected the strange restaurant with a fan at Morganford and Gravois. Busch’s actual reason is more intriguing than the one that said he spent a fortune to build a place to get out and stop.

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