Lost Tables | Remembering Schneithorst’s

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Have you ever wondered what happened to that restaurant you once loved and have memories of dining at with your family and friends? We did! There is an amazing website called Lost Tables, dedicated to celebrating the restaurants of our past. We are partnering with the site’s creator Harley Hammerman and celebrating these wonderful stories. Hammerman and his wife Marlene are members of Shaare Emeth, and she is past president of the National Council of Jewish Women of St. Louis.   Visit Lost Tables on Facebook


Arthur Bernard Schneithorst was born in St. Louis on June 16, 1884. His father, Henry F. Schneithorst, had immigrated to the United State from Germany in 1863 and settled in St. Louis where he married Arthur’s mother, Emma J. Mohrhaus, a St. Louis native.

Henry Schneithorst was in the produce business, selling fruit and vegetables on Main Street and then on Third Street. When he died in December on 1896, his wife took over the business, undoubtedly with the help of her son, Arthur.

But Arthur Schneithorst had other plans. At age 17, he worked as a sliver steward at the old Planter’s Hotel on Fourth Street. In August of 1912, Schneithorst and Bertha Zuber applied for a marriage license; they would be married for almost 35 years. By February of 1917, Schneithorst was managing the Chemical Building Bar Company at Olive and Eighth Streets. And by 1920, Arthur Schneithorst had joined the Benish Restaurant Company.

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Edward A. Benish was born in Austria. He immigrated to the United States at age 19, working as a busboy in New York City. He came to St. Louis and served as manager of the Sunset Hills Country Club when it opened in 1912. By December of 1915, he was managing the Tea Room at Scruggs – Vandervoort – Barney. And in 1916, he formed the Benish Restaurant Company, leasing space in the Chemical Building, at Olive and Eighth Streets.

The Benish complex opened with a bakeshop, a delicatessen, a soda fountain and a restaurant off of its main entrance on Olive Street, and a Gentlemen’s Grill off of its Eighth Street entrance. By 1920, Benish Corner was booming.

 

Arthur Schneithorst was Benish’s general manager and secretary-treasurer. When Edward Benish died in April of 1931, Schneithorst became the company’s president. But the Benish Company was in financial trouble at the time of its founder’s death, hit hard by the Great Depression. The company filed for bankruptcy in 1933.

 

On February 1, 1934, Arthur Schneithorst announced the opening of the Rock Grill – a seafood restaurant at 204 North Eighth Street. The announcement stated that “A. B. Schneithorst, formerly of Benish, is here to greet you . . . along with many former Benish employees.”

Billed as St. Louis’ Original Sea Food House, the Rock Grill featured lobster that could be plucked from a large tank in the dining room and oysters “opened right before you” at the oyster bar. The menu offered soft shell crab, frog legs, crappie, shrimp, catfish, whitefish, bluefish, lake trout and genuine crawfish soup.

The Rock Grill thrived for almost 20 years, although towards the end the menu offered “a variety of fine foods and entrees to choose from,” including French onion soup, corned beef and cabbage, and sauerbraten. The Rock Grill closed in 1953.

Schneithorst took over two venues at the airport – a more formal restaurant in the administration building (then the terminal) and a more casual refreshment stand on the ramp in front of the administration building.

The job of overseeing Schneithorst’s new airport project was given to his son, Arthur Bernard “Bud” Schneithorst, Jr.

Bud Schneithorst was born in 1915. He graduated from Western Military Academy in 1931 and received an undergraduate degree from Washington University in 1935. There are conflicting reports as to whether he obtained his law degree from Washington University in 1939 or dropped out before graduating to join his father’s business. In any event, the younger Schneithorst took over the airport restaurant in 1939, serving 500 meals daily with 17 employees. Within 10 years, he had 100 employees and did as much business in one month as he did in all of 1939.

The administrative building restaurant – open “23 hours, 59 minutes daily” –  featured an extensive menu. Whole broiled Maine lobster was available for 75¢ and “chicken in the rough,” a half fried chicken, was served with “gobs of shoestring potatoes, jug honey and hot buttered rolls” for 60¢.

Click here to read the entire story of Schneithorst’s on LostTable.com