Scapegoats or nuisances? St. Louis bar to defends against complaints


ST. LOUIS – Reign Restaurant and Lounge is defending against numerous violations at public hearings.

Posted and now taken down, Reign Restaurant was hit with two summons. One for public nuisance, the other to discuss its liquor license.

“We get calls about issues downtown regularly, so it’s not just about one business. It’s about the nature of the behavior that’s been going on downtown,” City of St. Louis Public Spokesperson Nick Dunne said.

Reign Restaurant will appear for a hearing in September for serving liquor to minors.

“We just want to make sure that everyone is being held accountable to ensuring that downtown and Washington avenue are safe places for visitors and residents alike,” Dunne said.

The feeling is mutual for the chair of the Citizens for a Greater Downtown.

“As you can see behind me Reign is surrounded on all four sides by high-rise residential buildings and it’s been a problem for the occupants of all of these buildings since reign has been there,” Chair for a Citizens for a Greater Downtown, Les Sterman said.

Sterman happens to also live right behind Reign Restaurant. He details multiple nights where he heard gunshots, loud music, fights, cars doing donuts, and more.

He applauded the city for taking this first step to curbing the issues.

“I mean all we really ask from any business is that play by the rules and are good neighbors and unfortunately reign has not really operated that way,” Sterman said.

Those who support Reign said the business is becoming a scapegoat for a larger issue.

But the complaints remain.

“We believe in downtown. We moved here 16 years ago because we believed in downtown St. Louis and we still do but it’s not going in the right direction right now. And clubs like Reign are about of the problem and we would like to see that turned around,” Sterman said.

Something that will be addressed in the coming weeks.

The hearing for the public nuisance notice for Reign will take place on Sept. 20. Its second hearing for the liquor license will happen Sept. 10.

“Of all the things, and shootings, and events, and stabbings, and fights, and everything that’s happened, even in just the last 30 days, my business is the one that’s pointed at for all of the problems in downtown city St. Louis and that’s disappointing,” Reign Restaurant owner Dana Kelly said.

“It’s disappointing that there’s record of so many persons of color establishments on Washington Avenue just completely being targeted and kept from even opening their doors, and then when they get their doors open, they are attacked and targeted.”

She added, “They don’t just frequent my establishment, when they come over here they’re at another establishment as well, they see at least 3-4 places before they go off to go home so it’s messing everything up for everybody.”

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