The Tick Tock Family of Enterprises is Growing by Two

The owners of the Tick Tock Tavern are expanding their efforts in the City of St. Louis, with two new enterprises.

Fred & Thomas are going to be opening a sandwich shop with Chef Byron Smith and Jeff McGraw. It’s going to open in mid-October, this place, Eat Sandwiches. Located right in the heart of the resurgent Morganford commercial strip. We’ll attach some links here, from:

The Riverfront Times
Sauce Magazine

Meanwhile, Steven’s going to be part of a small collective (including Patrick Smith, R.W. Smith and Francis Hunt) purchasing and operating the long-running Club Palomino on Delmar. Here’s coverage of that effort.


We’ll post more coverage as we go!


Live Music & The Tick Tock

13502572_10210165667804741_2375146711926617261_oWe’ve been joking online a bit lately, noting that we’re not a “music bar” even as we continue to book more-and-more music events, in different forms. In order to help clarify some things, here’s how we’re working to build our events.

How We’re Funding This: We’d like to point out that we’re a li’l place with the budget limitations/challenges of any small business, so we looked at our financials and tried to figure out a way to smartly/creatively fund some entertainment. Turns out that our ATM actually serves two purposes: giving customers those Jacksons; and providing us a music budget. All of the money that comes back to us from the ATM goes to live music (and in full-transparency: our cut is 50-cents a draw, which is the lowest rate we can go). Add in the cut that comes to us from our vintage video games (50% of all those quarters) and there’s our entertainment budget. Since we’re paid quarterly (and, for the games, literally we get quarters!), we’re able to cobble together enough dough for those three months of music. We then repeat the process. During this quarter, we’ve decided to spend our money on a Music on Mondays series, curated by stellar blues pianist Ethan Leinwand, his Bottlesnakes guitarist Nick Pence and some associates and collaborators. It’s been a great time and will pick up again on July 11.

Breweries Help, Too: Once a quarter, Civil Life funds our A Civil Quarterly series. We book an acoustic artist, highlight Civil Life beers and give out some CL swag. Urban Chestnut’s also stepped up and provided some funding for our springtime residency with Brothers Lazaroff, which we’ve been hosting every second and fourth Tuesdays of the month; we have one of these shows left, on Tuesday, June 28.

Kids Shows: A member of our staff, concierge Paul Stark, hosts the show Musical Merry-Go-Round on KDHX, 7-9 a.m. on Saturdays. In that role, he meets tons of musicians who cater to young audiences and we’ve been hosting those events, independently run, on Saturday and Sunday days for a while now. These are always our top days for orange juice sales.

Safe Harbor Shows: On a few occasions, we’ve booked solo artists who’ve been routed through St. Louis, but didn’t have a venue to appear. While we’ve hosted a few of these, we’ve also found homes for them at other venues, like Foam. It’s fun to land these somewhat-random shows, but it’s not something we can do regularly, in part because…

We’re Still a Corner Bar, Not a Listening Room: Something that’s been a bit difficult to explain, especially in email, is vibe. We cater to a neighborhood crowd, along with folks that just ramble through. We want to be a conversation-first bar (which is why our TVs are usually off and almost-always silent). We also know that on nights when people are just in to talk that music can be, honestly, a turn-off. So we salt music in on nights that are usually a little-less busy, or in timeslots that make the most sense. CD Listening Parties, our main musical effort, can be blended into almost any night, pretty seamlessly, and without demands on an audience’s attention. (It’s for this reason that we haven’t booked comedy, which has been pitched to us frequently.)

These are some general thoughts about what we host and how. Booking (and all other) questions can be shipped to: ticktocktavern @



Ellis Paul Was Here

A few weeks back, we entertained the songwriter Ellis Paul. Our concierge, Grandfather Stark of KDHX radio, heard that Paul would be routing through St. Louis and he quickly noted that Paul had the ability to perform both a kids show and adults show. If we wanted to, we could book both for a Saturday day/night doubleheader. So glad that we took up the offer.

We’ve noticed that Ellis Paul vlogs his tour on YouTube and are pleased-as-punch to make a cameo during his St. Louis edition.


Announcing Modern Brewery’s “Tick Tock Tafelbier”

Headier than actual Tick Tock Tafelbier.

St. Louis, MO: Modern Brewery and the Tick Tock Tavern are combining on a European classic with the first run of a signature “tafelbier,” the authentic name of a Belgian-style table beer. Tafelbiers, popular in the Low Countries, are built on a unique combination of malts, Belgian yeast strains, a pinch of rye, light hops, fine-ground hazelnut shells and, in the case of the Tick Tock Tafelbier, the juice of locally-sourced plums, providing only the subtlest hint of the fruit. This Tafelbier, as it would be in the Netherlands, Luxembourg or Belgium, is a low-alcohol affair, registering a mere 1.1% ABV, giving it the ultimate in sessionality.

In Belgium, tafelbiers are often enjoyed by schoolchildren, whose parents find the beverage a healthier alternative to soft drinks and high fructose-filled juices. Many Low Country children are introduced to a lifelong enjoyment of beer through tafelbiers, which can be enjoyed with any meal.

For the Tick Tock Tafelbier, Modern Brewery sought the highest-quality ingredients, including plums grown within 90-minutes of St. Louis, at the Vanderjagt Orchards of Jackson, MO; and hazelnuts harvested at an Amish community outside of Ozarkia, MO. A time-tested Belgian yeast strain is, of course, also a key element, milled specifically for this project by Orrejhoniae Grains of Neu Ostenheine, NY.

The Tick Tock Tavern will celebrate the first cask of the Tick Tock Tafelbier with a release at the Tower Grove East corner pub on Saturday, April 9. It’s a breakfast tasting, coinciding with the KDHX show “Musical Merry Go Round,” the community station’s family-friendly, weekend offering. From 7-9 a.m., the bar will play the long-running program over the sound system, allowing for sing-alongs, while offering a catered menu, consisting of Belgian breakfast favorites, such as: kipper-on-wheat, salted kohlrabi and rabbit/squash pate. Pints of the tafelbier will be available for adults, with half-pints for the kids.

In an effort in increase the popularity of Tafelbier in the US, Modern and the Tick Tock are offering a very unique deal to the other five Tick Tock Taverns (and one Tick Tock Lounge) in the United States: all will be given the recipe, so that each can work with a local craft brewer on their own, regionally-appropriate version of Tick Tock Tafelbier.

While no plans are in effect for a widespread distribution of Tick Tock Tafelbier in St. Louis, a limited amount of sixth-barrel kegs and firkin casks will be made available to pre-existing accounts of Modern Brewery, with a steady tap handle at the Tick Tock while supplies last; though children will not be allowed to order/imbibe without a parent on premises.


Political Meet-and-Greets in 2016

Between now and November, the Tick Tock Tavern will host a variety of meet-and-greets for those running for public office, either City-wide or in our immediate vicinity.

Please consider this a blanket invite for folks who are running in the City’s:

  • Sixth Ward, where we’re located.
  • Eighth Ward, which is right across the street.
  • Fifteenth Ward, quite near and home to many of our patrons.

Also welcome are candidates running for:

  • City-wide office.
  • And those running for State offices that overlap those wards (i.e. State Rep or State Senate).

Since we’re typing, we’d also play host to major party political candidates running for:

  • President of the United States of America

For regular attendees of the Tick Tock, these are not campaign fundraisers or ticketed events, though candidates can put out donation envelopes. They are simply a way of getting our customers (a smart lot, at that), a first-hand opportunity to ask questions of office holders and would-be office holders. We invite anyone qualifying to contact us directly at: ticktocktavern at

We look forward to the conversations!


A Salute to Artists First

If you look closely at our walls, you’ll notice a variety of pieces that were created by the artists at Maplewood’s Artists First studio. Found just a few dozen yards across the City limits on Manchester, Artists First offers art workshops and art therapy to a variety of clients with developmental and physical disabilities. The artwork they create is frequently for sale and we’ve picked up some pieces that link to well to our bar’s decor; we’ve got paintings, for example, of Dizzy Dean, Miles Davis, Redd Foxx and a whole bunch of (no surprise) owls.

We’ve come across a cool video highlighting the organization and we’ll attach it here. The artist most-featured in the video is Danny Speck; as it turns out, we own one of his owls.

While the artists there work from a host of personal inspirations, they’re also available to work on a commission basis. The organization, too, holds pop-up sales; we’ve hosted a trio of those over the last year. We’d happily and heartily encourage area bars and restaurants in need of that one, special piece to art to consider a trip to Artist First’s studio. Or to consider ways in which to display or otherwise financially support this wonderful non-profit.

For more info, see this piece by Dickson Beall.


Superb Owl Party was Superb

We enjoyed a football-free Sunday last weekend and appreciate the Post coming out to cover the event. You can read about here, including all of the fun in the comments section.

Treated, we were, to the music of The Gaslight Squares. They’ll be back with us soon. You can find out more about them at their Facebook page.


We’re also a little late in nothing this on our front page, a nice piece in January’s Sauce Magazine. Thanks, Matt Berkley.

The No Football Pledge

maxresdefaultDear National Football League,

The Tick Tock Tavern’s a small, corner bar on St. Louis City’s South Side, with 40 seats inside and another 24 on the patio. (Brr.) We have two in-house TV monitors, though they’re usually not on. When they are glowing, the sound’s not on for, let’s say, about 99% of the time. And in the 99% of time when they are glowing, they’re tuned to Cardinals baseball or Blues hockey. Usually our bartenders turn those games on by the request of a patron.

Which is worth noting because there have been many afternoons and evenings in our 17-months (and two NFL seasons) of operation when the St. Louis Rams have been playing, but no one’s asked us to turn the game. The significant amount of ill will that the Rams franchise has invested in our community’s a big part of this apathy. Of course, we’re also not a sports bar, so folks aren’t expecting to come in for games. So when sports do play on monitors, it’s usually just for the benefit of a few folks, who view them as a sort of visual eye candy, the kind of thing you can space out to when by yourself, or hitting a conversational wall.

For us, the National Football League’s no longer going to be played on our televisions, under circumstances; including in the delightfully-perverse (and technically possible) world in which the Rams play out the string in St. Louis in 2016. Nor are we going to play your league’s championship game in a few weekends. Let’s face it, none of this is going to impact our business, so to even announce this is nothing more than making a statement. But St. Louisans have been forced to making countless statements about your product over the last few years. Our public officials have had to take sides, as have our media and civic leaders. At times, the finagling for a new, downtown football stadium has caused a lot of upset for those of us who, in particular, call the City of St. Louis home. Of late, your league is causing us lots of problems, really.

The ward in which our bar is located has an Alderperson who voted against public financing of a new stadium for the Rams. The Alderperson whose ward is located directly across the street from us voted for the package. Both are underpaid public servants who work on dozens of issues a week, though the stadium issue’s taken up much of their time for the last year. For many, the stadium package vote is all that matters; that series of votes is what the Alderpersons will be judged on going forward. Ironically, for all the frustration and posturing, it doesn’t seem that that stadium’s now going to get built.

It appears that the NFL now has no interest in challenging the right of the Rams to move to greater Los Angeles, as early as this fall. And your league office has engaged in little resembling good faith negotiating with our regional leadership. You continue to make cities do stupid things, in order to compete with one another for your 32 golden franchises.

We’d say that that’s a good base for passing on the NFL going forward. But we’ll also keep our TVs dark on fall Sundays because your rank-and-file workers are increasingly showing issues of brain trauma in later life. And because your league, flush with cash, continues to look to public funding for new buildings. And because you pit cities against one another and regions against themselves. And because sports packages are driving up cable bills, for regular consumers and businesses like ours. And because you just sorta suck, in an altogether-sort-of-way.

It’s obvious that there are plenty of chain bars that’ll continue to show games every weekend. For them, tuning their 100 TV monitors is the same as flipping on the lights in the dining room or firing up the grill fryers in the kitchen. For us, it’s no biggie. But we’d invite all other St. Louis locations that don’t implicitly need to play your product to simply turn it off; starting now, during the playoff run, all the way through your league’s championship game. On Sunday, February 7, we’ll be open. In St. Louis, life will go on without your product. Our tiny, little corner of St. Louis will be okay and open to suggestions for what we’re going to watch.

The Tick Tock Tavern

Our alternative:

Festivus & Our Holiday Season

12311156_10101323987435738_3063913531074294790_nFrom a bar that features a pan-denominational holiday joy tree, you know that we love our celebrations at the Tick Tock Tavern. No date is more anticipated on our calendar that Festivus, which falls, annually, on December 23. This year, that’s a Wednesday night, which means we’ll slot in our festivities prior to our weekly trivia night, from 6-9 p.m.

As with last year’s debut, we’re joined by Tallgrass Brewing, out of Manhattan, KS; we’ll build temporary Festivus poles out of Tallgrass cans, available for $4 a pop. This year, a new sponsor joins us in Whisk: a Sustainable Bakeshop, who’ll provide a variety of sweet treats for the occasion.

We’ll, of course, feature feats of strength and an airing of grievances and surprises are bound to occur.

As a courtesy to our regular clientele, we’ll be open for the duration of the traditional holiday season, including Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. See our Facebook page for specific opening times.



Owl Get You by W.F. Gunn

Longtime Tower Grove East resident W. F. Gunn has written several ghost stories, recently sharing the best of them with the Tower Grove East Facebook page. His hope to eventually turn these, and other stories by different authors, into a book. This story is one of particular interest to us at the Tick Tock and is likely our first bit of starring fiction.

Owl Get You
By W. F. Gunn

Three times Max faced death. The third time death got lucky . . . and paid the price.

Max grew up working alongside his parents on the family vineyard where he developed a kinship with spirits of all kinds. His slight limp came from a tractor rollover, his first encounter with mortality at age eleven. The second time, his uncle Thomas fell over drunk into the pond and nearly drowned Max who dove in to save him then needed saving himself. That was his second run in with the reaper.

City folk came to the rolling foothills of the Ozarks in the fall of every year for harvest. Max enjoyed the city folk, even those that couldn’t hold their wine. With them he could engage in his favorite activity: listening to and talking with just about everybody about everything. When there were no humans he would commence to chatting-up critters in the surrounding hills.

Max could mimic birdcalls to a point of conversation. His favorite and longest relationship was with a Barred Owl that lived in the trees around his home, they grew up together, and Max felt, looked out for each other. Many a nights his Pa would threaten the switch if he didn’t stop their sleep disturbing back and forth of “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for yall? Who?”

When Max reached twenty-one he told his parents he wanted to move to the city. His uncle Thomas had said there would be a place for him if ever he wanted it. His Ma gave him a steel owl to mark the occasion, “To keep you company and remind you to be civil,” she said. His father bequeathed Max his bowler should the occasion arise for one.

His parents were certain Max would thrive anywhere, even in the wilds of the city. His uncle Thomas, faced with a booming post prohibition business, believed his nephew’s decision providential. Before long Max was slinging drinks at the Tick Tock Tavern in the Tower Grove East neighborhood of south St. Louis. He kept that owl his Ma gave him on a shelf across from the bar where he could see it. On afternoons before the regulars arrived and nights after closing he would taunt the mute bird urging it to answer, “WHO?”

First day on the job and every day there after Max wore his father’s bowler and grew a thick, black handlebar mustache over his ever-present, pudgy smile, just like his father. His time at the Tick Tock, among hundreds of friends that flowed in and out like the tide, was, Max thought, as close to heaven as he’d likely get. Max became guardian of the Tick Tock and of the neighbourhood, he was by all accounts a civil man.

It was Tuesday, the slowest night of the week as evidenced by the last customer saying goodnight. Uncle Thomas had gone home and Max figured a quick dispatching of his duties would get him to his room for a radio show and a ham on rye. Max hooted at his steel owl, “Who cooks for you!” Then, just as the clock on the bar struck midnight the door burst open.

In came a breathless woman Max recognized from the neighborhood scared out of her wits running away from the door screaming, “He’s coming! Please! Help, me!” Then the door slammed open again. A stranger came into the Tick Tock. Max looked away from the woman at an enormous dark visage nearly blotting out the room.

Evil came from it in waves. Max still behind the bar turned to the woman now struck silent with terror, pointed and said, “The toilet is that way Miss. Go in and lock it.”

Max was not a tall man by any measure, but he carried his powerful frame like a wrestler as he moved to come around from behind the bar. The monster looked down at him and snarled. Dark embers flared in its eyes. Max kept moving and in a steely voice said, “We are closed Mr.” A deep, menacing growl came from the behemoth. “Rudeness is an act of fear my friend,” Max said in a steady voice, “you are safe here, as long as you’re civil.”

The beast mimicked Max’s movements toward the woman frozen where she stood. Max considered the creature far from civil and on his way to meet his tough customer up close. He reached beneath the bar for the nightstick his uncle Thomas kept there. In a swift maneuver Max moved to the woman, gently pushed her toward the toilet, then turned to do what he must in the name of civility.

The beast focused on him him and was about to pounce when it was startled by the shrill question coming from behind it. “Who cooks for you!” The distraction was enough, without hesitation, much to the monster’s dismay, Max attacked.

The woman, feet braced against the toilet, back against the door, felt the pressure of the battle between good and evil vibrate on her spine, the horror of the struggle punctuated by howling and screeching and the furious flapping of metal wings. Palms pressed hard against her ears her screams became the maelstrom’s chorus.

Max’s uncle Thomas arrived the next morning. Concern swept over him when he went to put the key in the door and found it open. He peered in. Nothing was disturbed except for a few lights left on that should not have been. The faint sound of sobbing drew him to the ladies room where he found the woman.

Max was never found or heard from again. His uncle Thomas, devastated by Max’s disappearance and the incomprehensible story gotten from the woman, keeps Max’s owl on the mantle across from the bar where it sits in silent vigil. Outside, above the door hangs a portrait of Max, as a reminder to all who enter dear TGE to — be civil.