Oak Street Inn & Lounge will have a cafe, restaurant and speakeasy when it opens in Cottleville this spring

Cottleville, Missouri, is becoming a hotspot in the St. Louis region. Ranked as one of the safest towns in Missouri, the quaint town of 5,000 has a surprisingly diverse range of dining and drinks. Soon to be added to the options is Oak Street Inn & Lounge at 5521 Oak St. in a historic building downtown that once housed the general store and post office. 

At 12,500 square feet, Oak Street Inn & Lounge will have a rooftop patio, an upscale restaurant on the main level, a speakeasy in the basement, eight hotel rooms and a breakfast cafe. A two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath penthouse suite will be available on the third floor of the building. The breakfast cafe, Pink Willow, will be independently run. Everything else will be run by Chelsey and Nick Sweeten and Chris and Millie Shreves, owners of the property, and Michelle Branch, general manager. Sweeten and family also own Public School House, an event space in another historic property in Cottleville that frequently hosts pop-up bars.

The rooftop patio, hotel rooms and Pink Willow are slated to open by late March or early April. The other amenities will open shortly after. In order to achieve their vision, the building is being completely renovated. They put in a new foundation, lifted the building to create a basement and put an addition on to the main level.

Each aspect of Oak Street Inn & Lounge will have a distinct feel. The rooftop patio will provide picturesque views of the town of Cottleville and handcrafted cocktails. "The sunsets up there are breathtaking," said Branch. The restaurant on the main floor will be elegant and upscale, modeled after a historic European hotel visited by Sweeten last year. The basement speakeasy will be a classy spot for nightlife, featuring vinyl records, low-lit vibes, cocktails and small bites. 

The menu is still to be determined while they search for the perfect chef. "We'll give the chef a lot of autonomy and allow them free reign to come up with the menu that fits their specialty," Sweeten said. 

"The drinks will be European influenced with an American flair. The bartenders will be thoroughly trained to make handcrafted cocktails with homemade syrups and fresh ingredients," said Branch. The bar will have a ripple machine, a beverage-top media printer that can print pictures and messages on the froth of espresso, beer and cocktails. “Imagine being proposed to on top of an espresso martini,” Branch said. 

Oak Street Inn & Lounge will be open to the public for dining and drinks Wednesdays through Saturdays. Sundays through Tuesdays, it will act as a venue for private events, such as birthdays, bridal showers and rehearsals. The rooftop will have space for about 50 people, the restaurant and lounge about 80 people, and the speakeasy about 50 people. They are all available for private rental. 

The inspiration for the space comes from a recognized need by Sweeten and her group, as well as a desire to make Cottleville a destination town in the area. The Public School House has been a popular spot for an intimate wedding venue; so popular, in fact, that they were awarded the 2023 A-List Best Wedding Venue of the Year by St. Louis Magazine. By creating another event space in town, they are putting Cottleville on the map for intimate weddings and private event rentals.

"While working in skincare, I saw brides that were in need of smaller spaces. They did not want to have their special day at large, traditional spots. They wanted something intimate and meaningful. That's when we started Public School House," said Sweeten. 

New to Sweeten is operating a restaurant. Branch, who has over 15 years of experience managing and operating restaurants and bars in the St. Louis region, was brought in a year ago. She has been shadowing Lisa Berdeaux, general manager, and Melanie Danz, operational manager, of Public School House and sharing her operational knowledge from working in larger businesses in anticipation of handling general management of Oak Street Inn & Lounge with its multiple dining options, hotel amenities and event operations. “We want Oak Street to serve not only as a welcoming business for locals to have dinner, cocktails or plan a staycation, but also as a premier destination for visiting tourists,” said Branch.

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