3700 Laclede, St. Louis, Mo. 63108
For more than 30 years Humphrey’s has served St. Louis, and St. Louis University in particular, with a combination of good pub food, live music, incongruous decor, oversized bartenders, and cheap beer. Opened in 1976 by Jan and Robert “Humphrey” Mangelsdorf, this St. Louis institution is best know for its Wednesday night “penny pitchers,” boisterous crowds and nostalgic ornaments (including vintage concert posters behind the massive central bar rumored to cary insurance of over $20,000).
Humphrey’s scene is collegial: wood and moldings prevail and the normal atmosphere is a mix of cigarettes, warm beer and bodies. Ruggers gather after games on SLU’s nearby fields, mixing with college students returning from out-of-state schools for summer vacation, and SLU students, undergraduate and graduate. Bartenders tend toward the bearish; the family’s three sons have all taken turns behind the bar, with Bob Mangelsdorf currently manning the helm: each son left his mark on Chaminade sporting fields, notably football and hockey, prior to his time at the bar. Andrew Kofron, veteran doorman, counts the bar’s congenial atmosphere, large circle of regulars and dead-on soundtrack as chief draws. Deer and gazelles have lent their heads and stately racks to the walls; the outdoor patio is a summertime staple with its own bar and stage.
Humphrey’s iconic mascot has long been a stodgy old man in tails and bowtie, the “Humphrey’s Man,” “known and respected by all.” His origins are unclear.
While safely ensconced on Laclede today, Humphrey’s future wasn’t always so clear: years ago the tavern was pressured by developers to sell and then-SLU student Jim Swift took it personally. Swift’s website, Save Humphreys.com, was developed and quickly registered over one million hits. Local Greeks Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Kappa sorority stepped in alongside SLU alumni groups and St. Louis radio station Z107.7 FM to promote “Save Humphrey’s” t-shirts. Public support saved the bar and Swift signed on as a doorman; he still maintains the official Humphrey’s website.