The Bavarian style Busch's Gretchen Inn was built at the corner of South Grand Boulevard and Meramec Street in 1913 by Anheuser-Busch, Inc. In that era there was a strong prohibition movement, so Adolphus Busch wanted to show that beer could be served in a respectable family establishment instead of the typical sawdust floor saloon full of riffraff. Its timber and stucco construction, steeply pitched roof, and corner turret have made it a Dutchtown Landmark.
Anheiser Busch operated both this restaurant and the Bevo Mill throughout the difficult years of prohibition. With the repeal of prohibition, anti-trust laws would not allow a brewery to operate a drinking establishment. Al Smith leased and successfully operating Al Smith's Restaurant from the 1930's through 1961, when Fred and Evelyn Krumm tool over operations after managing the business since 1945. The restaurant suffered a fire on May 5, 1968 and was completely refurbished and continued to serve Dutchtown for many years. The restaurant sat vacant form 1986 until 1993 and suffered from neglect.
Anheiser-Busch was preparing to sell off the property to a franchise that planned to replace the historic building with a fast food restaurant. Local activists convinced the brewery to continue looking for a buyer who would use the existing building The Dutchtown South Neighborhood Association took the lead in the battle to save the landmark and convinced the state to give the brewery a tax credit upon the donation of the property to the Association.
Susan and Martin Luepker took on the challenge of rehabbing the abandoned restaurant. Sue and Marty restored wood, plaster, brink and tile work to its original state. Once finished with the building, they took on the next phase - furnishing it. After much consideration, they devised a plan that would preserve even more Saint Louis restaurant history. The benches are from the old Dohack's Restaurant on Lemay Ferry Road. The booths, bar chairs, and some marble tables are from the Nantucket Cove of the Central West End. Some tables and chairs are from the dining room at Famous-Barr in Clayton; others are from the Missouri Athletic Club. There is also crown molding from the Top of the 230 in Clayton, as well as the elegant chandeliers that adorn the banquet room. Brewery memorabilia, such as paintings, beer trays and steins, antlers, old lanterns and other trinkets add to the character of this revitalized Dutchtown establishment.