The eating place on the wedge-shaped corner at Skinker and Clayton has had various names, decors and management over the years, but to old-timers it's still Medart's.
William S. Medart was the son of a sporting
goods equipment manufacturer and a leading amateur golfer. He
married silent film actress Blossom Breneman in Oct 1928, and the
newlyweds settled down briefly in Hollywood so the new Mrs. Medart could finish
her title role in the "The Bride of the Colorado," a Cecil B. De
Mille production. It was while in
Beverly Hills that the Medarts noted the social rise of the lowly
hamburger, exalted by a restaurateur who had made a million
dollars in five years.
The Medarts returned to St. Louis and took a
five year lease on the lot on the south side of Clayton, just
west of Skinker, and set about the business of glorifying the
The Medarts opened their restaurant at 7036 Clayton on
October 9, 1930 in a former A & W Root Beer stand. Bill ran the
grill, Blossom made coconut pies – their burger joint was an instant hit.
The depression was in full downward swing, and the hamburger had
become fashionable. The Medart
offering, which went for 15 cents, was served on a bun with an onion, if preferred, and
always with a special mayonnaise-based green relish, which made it
distinctive. It provided the proper ending to a night at the opera,
a visit to the movies or Sunday supper.
But Bill Medart learned more from his Beverly Hills mentor than how to grill burgers. In 1932, the Medarts opened a second restaurant at 3427 South Kingshighway. The old stand at Clayton and Skinker was demolished and a new building constructed with an Old English look. A much larger addition, a brick restaurant & tavern called the Olde Cheshire, was built in 1939. In 1942, property immediately west of the restaurant was purchased, and another elaborate addition was constructed. In 1949, the Rose and Crown opened – "a dining room of ineffable charm where lovers of good living [were] regaled with world-famous dishes and rare wines, amid the elegant surroundings of an all-but-vanished past."
But Medart's had its growing pains.
Frustrated by long hours and low pay, Medart's waitresses went on
strike in July 1941. They demanded their pay be increased from $7 to $15
for a six-day week and that Medart's provide their uniforms and hire
assistants to bus tables. Bill Medart said the demands would break
him, but he eventually settled and gave the waitresses most of what
In January 1951, tragedy struck the Medarts. The family had gone to Europe for a year's stay; their 17-year-old daughter Mimi was studying for a stage career and their 21-year-old son Edward was attending the Sorbonne. There was a quarrel over the family remaining in Paris; Bill Medart wanted to return home immediately. On the night of January 12, with his wife and children present, he rushed to the French window of their fifth floor suite at the Hotel Continental and plunged to his death on the pavement below. The French police listed his death as a suicide. Bill Medart was 46 years old.
Blossom Medart became full owner of the restaurant property, valued at $1,000,000. In 1960, she sold the business to a corporation headed by Stephen J. Apted, vice president of Hulling's Cafeterias. The restaurant was closed for remodeling and reopened under the name Cheshire Inn.
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