Long before it moved around the corner in the CWE, Kevin Brennan’s renowned three-level establishment was many things: part bar, speakeasy, lounge, cigar club, event venue, co-working space, bottle shop, and pingpong emporium. The new space, forced into pause mode by a catastrophic fire on reopening day, is now a doubly refined version of the original.
Do you even want to talk about the fire last December? I got a call at 6:30 a.m. saying there was movement on the second floor, so I sent the police. Shortly thereafter, I got a text that Brennan’s was on fire. By the time I arrived, the fire was under control. The movement in the rooms was caused by smoke. The cause was spontaneous combustion from a pile of rags used to stain the floor, even though it was cool outside and the windows were open. You never think stuff like that actually happens.
Are you a native St. Louisan?I was born here, grew up here, went to school in Arizona and moved to Chicago where I ran a few restaurant/bar-type places, which is what turned me on—and then off—to the business. The Field House, up on Clark Street, is still there. I was closing the bar six nights a week, getting home at like three-thirty, and then bowling on my free night off. It wasn’t much of an existence, so I came back to St. Louis.
How did Brennan’s start, years ago? First, I started an online wholesale cigar business while working at McGurk’s a few nights a week. I started collecting humidors and even started my own brand of cigars, which helped when my brother Mark and I decided to open Brennan’s.
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