ST. LOUIS – The origins of Mardi Gras may stem in New Orleans, Louisiana, but St. Louis also has some deep-rooted connections to ‘Fat Tuesday.’

Back in the 1790s, the area now known as Soulard was run by an upper Louisiana surveyor named Antoine Soulard, way before the celebration was recognized in Missouri. Over 200 years later, a St. Louis local decided to host a party centered around the Lenten season tradition.

In February 1980, Bob Brinkmann and friends planned a themed gathering at the previously-named Hilary’s pub, located at 1017 Russell Boulevard. After a few moments, Brinkmann shouted, “How about a Mardi Gras party?”

He’d eventually purchase the building, which is now recognized as Johnny’s Restaurant & Bar. Afterward, the one-time private party became the norm in the city, even gaining corporate sponsorships.

In 2023, the five-week-long celebration will draw approximately 750,000 people nationwide. The Twelfth Night kicked off on January 6 and peaks on February 25.


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