The City

For St. Louis, loss of another icon would hurt

ST. LOUIS — Residents here have grown accustomed to seeing local corporations gobbled up by larger outside firms. But losing Anheuser-Busch Cos. could be the cruelest cut of all.

The nation's largest brewery has long been a point of pride as a hometown attraction. The company's massive red-brick brewery draws tourists from around the country to see the Clydesdale horse stables, brewing vats and Busch family memorabilia that dates back generations.

Reports that the company might be bought by InBev have residents worried they might lose a company as closely identified with St. Louis as the iconic Gateway Arch.

"St. Louis has gotten to the point where we have the brewery and the Cardinals — that's it," said John Schute, owner of the Sage restaurant and bar just across the street from the Anheuser-Busch brewery. "They support us and we support them."

St. Louis residents have seen one local company after another move their corporate headquarters out of town. May Department Stores Inc. said in 2005 it would be bought by Ohio rival Federated Department Stores Inc., just after Pulitzer Inc., publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said it would be bought by Lee Enterprises Inc. of Iowa. More recently, brokerage firm A.G. Edwards Inc. was bought by Wachovia Corp. of North Carolina.

If Anheuser-Busch is absorbed by InBev, many St. Louis residents worry the new company won't have the same dedication to charitable giving and supporting the city's cultural life. The brewer supports local festivals like the downtown Mardi Gras parade and a new beer heritage fair in the city's Forest Park.

"Anheuser-Busch does more for the community than anyone knows," said Andy Lohr of Lohr Distributing Co., which distributes the brewer's products in St. Louis. "If we're lucky, they'll keep the brewery here," he said.

For St. Louis, loss of another icon would hurt 05/30/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 30, 2008 6:01pm]

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