End of an era: Johnny’s in Soulard closing this weekend

ST. LOUIS - Johnny Daus has done everything from managing and owning his own restaurant and bar, to cooking in the kitchen and cleaning in the bathrooms at Johnny's Restaurant and Bar in Soulard.

"I did not want to be one of those owners that didn't know where his kitchen was at," he said.  "So I've done it all.  It's all for the customers."

But after 23 years, it's last call for the favorite local hangout in the heart of Soulard.  The restaurant and bar will close it's doors for good this weekend, but not before one last hurrah with loyal customers young and old.

"I've been coming in here since the 90s and it's always been a fun place a good crowd, bartenders are good, the food is good," said Dean Reifsdeck. "It's been a  really great place to come."

"I was a bartender here when Hillary owned it," said Brian Wahby.  "And I've been drinking here ever since."

After 31 years in business in Soulard, the last 23 with Johnny's, Daus said it's time for him to do something different.  He praised his family; mom and dad and two sisters who have also been his business partners, for Johnny's success.  He also welcomes the new establishment moving in: Harpo's in Soulard.

"The guy coming in now has got an idea and it's going to be a little different than what's down here already and I think it'll work," Daus said.  "I really think Harpo's Soulard is going to work."

But more than missing their favorite local bar, Johnny's customers said they'll miss the man behind the name, who went above and beyond for his neighborhood.

" Whether it be the crime patrol, the cleaning up the streets, just being part of the neighborhood, Johnny has been there and we're going to miss him," said Wahby.

"We've gotten to know a lot of people coming through here and all of that is going to be gone," Reifsdeck said.

So what's next for Daus?

"Well, I'm not dying," he said.  "I'm never going to say never, but maybe if you keep your eyes and ears open, like Arnold, maybe I'll be back."

Harpo's Soulard plans to open in the fall.