Chuck Berry 1988

Chuck Berry opens doors rock

Rock 'n' Roll Idol Turns Restaurateur

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

September 22 / 1988

By Ralph Dummit / St. Charles Post Bureau Chief

Chuck Berry's talents as an electrician and interior decorator are unlikely to eclipse his fame as a rock 'n' roll idol. But he recently has been spending more time gripping a lineman's pliers and selecting carpeting than performing the duck-walk. Berry has taken a personal hand in renovating the Southern Air Restaurant, a landmark eatery in Wentzville that he bought earlier this year.

After being closed for about a year, the remodeled and redecorated food sections of the restaurant opened Sept. 12. The restaurant's dining rooms seat a total of 141 people. Buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. International days are planned for the near future, when menus from different countries will be featured each day.

Meanwhile, Berry is helping put the final touches to what he calls ''the music and drink room,'' formerly used for banquets and as a meeting room for local civic organizations. The room occupies a south wing of the building. It is connected to the restaurant section and the kitchen, but it has its own private entrance.

Too busy for a sit-down interview Wednesday morning, Berry invited a reporter to follow him around as he scurried from the music room to the kitchen and back again. While stripping insulation from wiring for an amplifier, Berry said that the music room would be open four hours a night, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week. ''We'll have live music three nights a week,'' he said. ''I'll perform once in awhile.'' Berry has a home south of Wentzville.

He would not confirm earlier reports that the music room would feature memorabilia from the heyday of his career. Berry could not say when the music room would open. His attorney in Wentzville, William J. Zollmann, said he expects approval soon on a state liquor license for the Southern Air. The music room and a separate cocktail lounge are expected to open as soon as the state license is received.

The music room features a raised bandstand in the southwest corner, flanked by two thick wall tapestries in brilliant colors. A short bar is on the west side of the room. Tables for four take up the rest of the floor space. Asked about the size of the music room, Berry didn't hesitate. With a carpet installer's familiarity with floor dimensions, Berry shot back, ''It's 49 by 63".