Endless Nameless, Benny’s Pit Stop Lounge? 2800 Indiana Ave

Posted: April 1, 2010 in Dive Bar, STL: Fox Park
Tags: ,
(By clicking magnify you can get a close up look at the door to the bar.)
So, after we did our Fish Fryday, our wives were attending a wedding shower and we still had a goodly amount of time to kill.  During this time we started driving around the city.  The Fish Fry was in extreme south St. Louis, and we live a bit north of there.  So, we just drove around.  For some reason we ended up driving through Benton Park, where my mother lives and then we crossed over into Fox Park, and as we were driving down Lynch Avenue, I saw a Falstaff beer sign on a corner bar.
Now, I need to preface this entry.  This is not my usual dive bar post.  I didn’t have my camera as it was in use at the aforementioned wedding shower.  I did have my BlackBerry, which is where the Immaculate Heart of Mary photos came from.  So, I did have the ability to take pictures, but this place, I didn’t feel comfortable taking photos here.  I think you’ll understand as I tell the story.
I asked, if we were headed anywhere in particular, and I was told no.  So, I decided we were heading in.  As we got to the door, I saw that one side of the sign was broken.  At this point, I was thinking that I had really found a great dive bar.  As we walked in, I started looking for the ATM.  The bartender told me that they didn’t have one, and that they only accept cash.
So far this really isn’t all that different from any other dive bar right?  Here’s where it starts to get a little bit different.  There’s a large refrigerator in the main bar floor where they’ve got cold beer, milk, mixers, and other such things.  This whole bar was about the size of my dining room and living room.  It was pretty damned tiny.
So, there are long tables all down the place.  It was like it was set up for a wedding or something.  At the first table, right by the door to the outside, there was an old man breathing through an oxygen mask.  I began looking around and I was beginning to wonder if there was going to be anywhere for us to even sit down.  There was a pretty good crowd for the space.  I saw a couple spots at the end of the bar where I could survey the whole goings on there.
We ordered our drinks. For me a Bourbon and Coke, and for Bob a Gin and Tonic.  While she was pouring my drink, the elder gentleman with the oxygen mask began calling her name.  He then stated that he needed her to change his oxygen mask for him.  So she stops making our drinks to take care of this, and then comes back and pours our drinks, both very strong and only two bucks a piece. I guess I should mention that at the table next to him was a group of ladies all smoking.  I don’t really have any experience with oxygen masks, but this seems dangerous to me….
As we’re sitting there, we notice that underneath the bar, there was a large selection of pints of liquor.  So, combine that with the fridge in the front, and we’re looking a lot of package sales.  I’ve not seen a bar in a long time that sells that much package liquor, so this is now pretty unusual.  Another interesting thing about the bar, was the 1950’s era cash register.  There were also several bottles of liquor that seemed to have been there since Nixon’s second inauguration…
So, I continued surveying the place.  They have a slot machine in the bar.  I mean…a slot machine?!  There was a sign on the top of it that stated it’s for entertainment only.  I’m not completely sold that this sign was telling the truth.  I mean, we’ve all played slots and I can’t imagine them being any fun if you’re not going to win any damned money.  Wooh 3 7’s! I win nothing! See?
The walls of the place were half coming down.  I could see the supports of the walls.  Now, I don’t have a whole lot of experience building houses, or inspecting them, even with the lax inspection laws we have in Missouri, but it seems to me that this would be against some sort of code.
The TV was playing game shows, with the sound on.  I can count on one hand how many bars I’ve been to where they play the sound.  If the information I’ve been given over the years is accurate, this is actually illegal due to licensing, but they’ve also got a damned slot machine, and walls falling down, so I’m not too sure they’re concerned with Federal Copyright laws…
On the right side of the bar, there was a pool table and the bathrooms.  On the wall over the pool table there was a velvet picture of dogs playing poker.  Then the bathrooms actually scared me a little bit.  I wouldn’t go in them.  Of course from where I was sitting I could see lovely graffiti detailing issues of modern society that are better left unsaid.
Now, in a really good dive bar, anybody who walks in is your brother from another mother.  This place was very much unlike that.  I felt like an interloper there.  This is without taking my pictures even.  Bob said that he thought we’d get punched in the nose if I pulled out a camera.  I felt very, very unwelcome there.
This bar doesn’t fit the bill of a dive bar.  If there’s a level of bar underneath, it’s this one.  Bob called it a down and out bar.  You go here to just drink your problems away.  There seemed to be no real conversation in the place, just depressed drinking.  We felt so unwelcome because it was as if the regular patrons were embarrassed to be seen by others.
I could really write a novel about the thirty minutes I spent in this bar, but I’m going to head towards the door on this post.  I did my due diligence to find the name of the establishment, but even after questioning some friends about it, and looking at the google photo of the place, I have no idea what it’s called.
I can only say this about the place, enter at your own risk.

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Comments
  1. Adam says:

    wow. i lived right down the street at the corner of indiana and pestalozzi for two years and never saw a soul enter or exit that place. i just assumed it was empty or used for storage or something. creepy indeed.

  2. 13 says:

    I can tell you, for sure, this place is open for business and there are people inside.

  3. Timotay! says:

    I've driven past that place, but under no circumstances would I go in.

  4. 13 says:

    Well, I do not recommend the place. My wife couldn't believe we went in there after I showed her the picture. Her jaw was just on the floor!

  5. lesliet says:

    good read! for some reason, i'm still intrigued and want to go in … but it'll have to be in daylight and my boyfriend will have to come with me 🙂

  6. 13 says:

    You do that. 🙂 The people for the most part seemed tame…just unfriendly and unwelcoming.

  7. We lived down the street from this joint prior to moving out to AZ. I went in once. Never again. I still chuckle when I see the Grade A sticker on the window

  8. 13 says:

    Grade A sign? What's grade A about a bar?! Oh well. It was definitely an experience that I don't think I want to repeat.

    • Disco Stu says:

      I love Benny’s bar. RIP Benny. The first time I went there a few years back it was like I had known everyone all my life. Everyone introduced themselves, kept buying me drinks, and then when Benny came down for his shift(usually around 8) he would tell stories of seeing Babe Ruth at the old Sportsmans Pk. Alot of Saturdays in the summer they would bbq or bring in a spread of food, free to anyone. I always take visitors from out of town and they love it. Hope they can stay afloat after Bennys death.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I live down the street from Benny's and go there from time to time. To be honest, I love the place. It's got a wonderful simplicity and folks there have always been very nice to me. Also, at Benny's I have struck up many more conversations with strangers than I have at other bars. Unfortunately and sadly, Benny just passed away. There is a sign on the bar window stating that his memorial service will be on April 10th. I am keeping my fingers crossed, hoping that my neighborhood bar can stay open! As of now, it has been closed since Benny's death.

  10. 13 says:

    There's nothing wrong with loving your local bar. That's what makes it yours. Maybe we just stuck out too much. I know I look people up and down at my bars.I'm really sorry to hear about Benny. My deepest condolences for Benny and his family.

  11. BBB says:

    I loved Benny’s. RIP Benny.

    • battra13 says:

      There is a definite love for Benny’s from the regulars there. After making this post I was amazed at how many people have told me about their stories there.

      I wonder if I was just there on a bad day…because the Benny’s I experienced seem to be very different from the one I’ve been hearing about since this post.

  12. janie says:

    i have know benny since i was a kid. i went to school with his dauther. Benny was a great guy,i ,m going to miss him.

    • Ella says:

      Tell me more about Benny. Did he just have the one child?

    • Ella says:

      I just met a woman that ran another corner bar down the street (it closed in 1994). She told me Benny only had one child, a daughter, and that she had died in a car accident right before he died. Is there any truth to that?

      • alex says:

        I think he only had a daughter who died in a car accident – it had been some time ago, though. I’m thinking 10-15 years ago? I also know he had a grandson, “Little Benny”.

      • Ella says:

        Thanks Alex!

  13. IrrArcaryclig says:

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Cheers
    Christian,

  14. it is quite fun to play on slot machines specially if you win a lot `

  15. Ella says:

    I just bought this place, formerly known as “Benny’s Pit Stop”. I look forward to hearing more stories about this place we have grown to become very fond of in the short time we have been associated with it. If you have any more information to share, please do so!

    • battra13 says:

      Ella, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. for me, that’s the only story I have of the place. I’d love to do another round or two there if you’d be ok with me taking some photos of the place.

      • Ella says:

        The place definitely does not look the same. We are in the process of “gutting” the bar. We’re not trying to make it modern, more like taking it back to it’s original state (before the dropped ceiling and floor tile).

    • Disco Stu says:

      Good to hear that you bought Benny’s. Some the regulars from there can be found on the end of the bar at The Filling Station just down the street on Pestalozzi.

    • janie says:

      so it is good to hear you bought it i would love to stop in and see it. hoping to be in St.Louis soon.and good luck

  16. alex says:

    Ella,
    I live on Indy just down the street. All the neighbors have been wondering what the future holds for the property. What are you plans!?
    Thanks,
    Alex

    • Ella says:

      Alex,

      Our original plan was to make it a “private lounge”, for friends and such and not sell liquor. However, we have had a few neighbors stop in hoping to patronize the place again. We’re currently contemplating the possibilty of a neighborhood lounge. 🙂

      • Mike says:

        Please open this as a lounge! I live right behind you on Missouri and have closely been watching the construction vans come and go over the past few weeks.

  17. alex says:

    Ahhh.. Gotcha… Are you familiar with Russ and Jimmys? It’s a neighborhood speakeasy on Missouri (between Lynch and Pestalozzi) that is usually open in the summer…

    Are you planning on living in the building as well? Are you gutting all 3 floors? We’re just a few houses down on Indy…

    Thanks for the info!
    Alex

    • Ella says:

      Is that by Pointer’s Market? Yes, we will eventually live in the building on the 2nd and 3rd floors, but not in a rush to finish those yet. Those floors have not been lived in for decades. The 2nd floor is actually well-preserved. The 3rd floor, not so much.

      • alex says:

        Russ and Jimmys is on Missouri, between Lynch and Pesty. Russ passed a few years ago, but from time to time Jimmy opens back up in the summer time. It’s quite a scene – mostly neighborhood folks. They don’t charge for liquor, but you have to sign up to become a “member” of the club. Then there is a donation jar at the bar, where you pay what you like. I think most of the neighborhood hoosiers took advantage of Jimmy by cheaping out on the tip jar….

        If you had a way to email, i could send some pics….

        Alex

      • Alex Batts says:

        Ella,
        How are things going!? I walked by on the way down to the parade last weekend, hoping to catch you guys there. Just popping in on the blog to get a quick update – hope all is well.
        Alex

    • Ella says:

      Hi Alex,

      I forgot you had asked for my email to send pics. It is ellav8or@charter.net. The clean-up had to slow down for a couple of weeks due to a health issue. But it is back in full swing!

      Joel

  18. Shane says:

    Very exciting. As a resident of Indiana Ave I would love to see Benny’s reopen again.

  19. shelly says:

    I worked for Benny for almost two years before he passed.Glad to hear someone bought the place and is thinking about re-opening it.would be interested in hearing more about how things are going with the place. Alot of my customers ask me from time to time whats ever going to happen to Bennys.

  20. Ella says:

    For anyone that is interested, we are having a sale at the bar, formerly known as Benny’s, on Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 8:00 a.m. We are selling a lot of items from the bar such as barstools, tables, chairs, bar signs, lights, jukebox, etc. Grab your piece of history! 🙂

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