South Broadway Illusion & Ghost


8700 Block of South Broadway
South St. Louis City, MO

I was driving north on South Broadway on a brilliantly sunny day when I saw the sight, above, and couldn’t tell if it was an optical illusion, a painted mural or 3D real-life fantastically lit.  So I pulled in to investigate.


It’s real-life 3D with some fresh coats of paint. The whole building was recently painted in many bright colors, with signs trumpeting the grand opening of Tequila Wyld, a “party bar.” From the look of all the broken beer bottles in the parking lot, they ain’t lying.

This place keeps opening and closing at a rapid pace.  I was in there once long ago in the mid-90s to see Too Much Joy.  Both the band and myself missed the place the first two times by, and once inside it still felt like the middle of nowhere.  This part of South Broadway always feels that way, in general.

While reminiscing about that night, I glanced over my shoulder and what is that?


Is it a Courtesy Diner?


Closer inspection revealed it couldn’t have been anything but. But my memory bank was drawing a blank.

A little research confirms that 8701 S. Broadway was, indeed the Courtesy Chili Shop, opened in 1965, and city records tell the tale of its demise:

Complaint Date: January 1996, Hamburger and bacon at the Courtesy Rest.taste and smells bad
Complaint Date: June 1996, No hot water to the Courtsey (sp) Chili Shop
Complaint Date: may 1997, Restaurant at this address is operating on expired business license. Please inspect.
Complaint Date: June 1997, Too many extension cordes and wiring in disrepair.  Courtesy Restaurant.
Complaint Date: July 1998, Business at this address is selling cars on parking lot.
Complaint Date: February 1999, New owner of restaurant has not applid (sp) for C of I
Complaint Date: March 1999, food smelled bad, cheese burgers and fries Courtesy, half cooked

By July 1999, it was clearly a car lot, though an illegal one. And this amusing string of events triggered a memory of driving by this place in the mid-90s with a veteran South Sider, who told us, “Never ever eat there unless you’re suicidal.”  He was referring to only this site, because thousands of us have eaten at the remaining two Courtesy Diners and lived to see another day, though perhaps through a drunken fog.


As of April 2009 it’s listed as “Condemned for Occupancy; Can’t Demolish.”  Really, why not?

Did any of you ever eat at this defunct Courtesy Diner? Please, do tell.