dressel's photo by iain shaw

Dressel’s reopens in Central West End of St. Louis after 3-year hiatus

Dressel’s reopened at 419 N. Euclid Ave. on May 27 following a three-year break imposed first by the pandemic and later a lengthy renovation. The relaunch restores one of the Central West End’s best-loved drinking institutions, but with a new look, a menu of the bar’s greatest hits, and an on-site brewery in the works, it’s anything but business as usual at Dressel’s. 

Owner Ben Dressel described the menu as a “greatest hits of the old menu,” including fish and chips, burgers and the bar’s “indispensable” pretzel. “We’re really intentional about our fish,” Dressel said. “I just picked some fish up at the airport, I get it flown in from a place on the East Coast.” Also returning from the pre-pandemic era are the lamb burger that was a staple of the menu for years, a porchetta sandwich and grilled cheese sandwiches, and the menu also includes soups, salads and the bar’s house-cooked chips and french fries. Chef Travis Klott was formerly a sous chef at Dressel’s, and Dressel believes he’ll provide a steady hand as the bar eases into a rhythm. 

Dressel said the revamped space is “in part, a reference to what it was, particularly with the artwork and things, but it also has a new, much nicer feel to it.” With the pub closed by the onset of the pandemic, Dressel had set about following through on renovations that he said were long overdue. Much of the bar’s hardware had remained intact since even before Dressel’s parents opened the pub in 1980. “That bar was never built to last 10 years, let alone 40, so the bar and the floor underneath it and the kitchen floor, all that stuff … we needed to replace all the infrastructure anyway.” 

However, as the pandemic dragged on, even as other venues reopened, Dressel’s remained closed. “It was clear to me that Dressel’s would not survive if it reopened at the wrong time,” Dressel said. “It would have killed us. So we were just like, ‘We’re going to hunker down and see what happens and see if we can figure out how to manifest something different that might allow us to grow again for 10 years,’ rather than just be the crusty old pub on the corner of the neighborhood that people love, but isn’t really going to feed my soul.” 

That’s where the idea for a brewery came in. Dressel’s is installing a seven-barrel brewing system that will brew beer to be sold exclusively on the premises. Dressel said the brewery is still several months away, but he believes it will be worth the wait. “We’re a year behind schedule, and we still don’t have a brewery, but we will and, once we do, it’ll be delightful,” he said. “The beer will be good, just like anything Dressel’s has ever done.”

Dressel said the beer will be focused on British-style beers. “It’s going to be ales and lagers, that’s our wheelhouse in terms of what we sell, in terms of what fits the bill of the food that we have,” he said. One of those beers will be a Welsh ale, keeping up the bar’s Welsh identity and calling back to the days when Dressel’s used to offer Felinfoel Brewery’s Double Dragon ale, all the way from Wales but sadly no longer available in the U.S. Initially, the brewery will produce around six or seven beers. That number could expand, but Dressel said there will be a natural ceiling to what is brewed in-house. “I’m not going to have 20 beers, I’m not going to make beer for beer’s sake,” he said. The bar will continue to offer a range of other beers from local breweries. 

Work will also soon begin on a new enclosed sidewalk patio. “Foot traffic will be on the outside of the tables, the tables will be next to the building, and there’ll be some kind of flower bed perimeter to keep those two things separate,” Dressel said. 

“The coolest part about this project for me, is that it's not there yet,” Dressel said. “It's almost like a second launch really. When the brewery’s functional, we’ll do a lot more promotion for that side of the brand and that identity and we’ll reach a different crowd of people than we’ve ever reached before.”