By Karen Cernich
Treloar Bar & Grill Caters to Locals and Katy Trail Users
This time of year, when the temperature only reaches into the 30s or 40s and the sun is hidden behind clouds for much of the day, it can be hard to muster the motivation to get out on the Katy Trail for a bicycle ride or run. But here’s your temptation — the Treloar Bar & Grill, home of the “best hamburger” for miles around, according to some of its regular customers.
You’ll find it tucked behind the historic circa 1890s Treloar Mercantile building in downtown Treloar.
Lisa Ketterer, who owns the bar and grill with her husband John, insists there’s no secret ingredient to the hamburgers, unless you count simplicity. They’re made with fresh beef and seasoned with salt and pepper.
The hamburgers and cheeseburgers are definitely the most ordered items on the menu, Ketterer said, but the ribeye sandwich is also popular, and the Friday night specials, like fried chicken or any steak variety, bring a good number of people through the doors as well. There’s one unique recipe on the menu: The Gavinator, named for a guy who used to work at the restaurant, features four hamburger patties and eight pieces of bacon stacked between two grilled cheese sandwiches, one on the top and one on the bottom.
Open Wednesday through Sunday (11:30 a.m. to 8, 9 or 10 p.m.), the Treloar Bar & Grill naturally attracts a lot of locals who come in to catch up with neighbors on the community happenings or to watch football games on the four TVs. There also are a lot of regular customers from as far away as Hermann and Warrenton.
But newcomers, like people who come in for lunch or dinner after being on the trail, are always welcome, Ketterer said. There’s no awkward moment when they walk in either. It isn’t the kind of place where everyone turns around to see who is coming through the door. In fact, in pre-COVID days, the locals and newcomers could sometimes be found sharing a table (the restaurant isn’t a very big space) and getting to know each other.
In a normal year, the Katy Trail delivers between 10 to 15 percent of the Treloar Bar & Grill’s customer base, but for 2020 Ketterer said it was as much as 20 to 25 percent. “Probably because more people were using the Trail during COVID shutdowns, since they couldn’t go many places.”
‘Everybody Has Their Own Story’
Ketterer, who owned and operated the Treloar Bar & Grill from 1999 to 2006 when it was still at its original location adjacent to the Katy Trail before reopening it in 2012 at its current location a block away, said she loves the flavor Trail users bring to the day-to-day business.
“It’s neat how everybody has their own story of how they got on to the trail or found the trail,” Ketterer said. “We have had a lot of people in from other countries who are riding the whole trail and traveling the whole country, coast to coast. There was one couple from Iowa who came down just to ride the Trail and visit a lot of the wineries here. They loved it. They thought Missouri wine was awesome.”
And although the bar and grill doesn’t do any traditional advertising, satisfied customers have spread the word naturally. Ketterer laughs at the thought that there are people in Washington who have never heard of the Treloar Bar & Grill, yet others have come in from as far away as Nashville saying they learned of the restaurant by seeing people wearing its T-shirts.
Winter is definitely the slow time of year for the restaurant, but Ketterer said traffic will increase as soon as the weather starts to warm up again. Usually that’s around March, when schools are on spring break, she said.
Ketterer, who grew up around the area and now lives in Treloar with her family, enjoys riding the Katy Trail herself, when she can. Her favorite spot (that she’s seen so far) is a few miles west of the restaurant.
“I tell people, ‘Start here and go west,‘ just west a few miles, right along the bluffs.” She hopes someday to be able to ride the full length of the Trail, like so many of her customers have done.
New Growth in Treloar
Ketterer’s connection to Treloar runs deep. It was her great-grandfather, Henry Hasenjaeger, who opened the original Treloar Tavern in the late 1800s, and her mom, Judy Liermann, was actually born in the building. Over the years the business was owned by various people and went by at least a couple of different names, but the Ketterers brought it back to family in 1999. By the time they closed it in 2006, the 100-plus-year-old building was showing its age. Earlier this year, after sitting vacant and crumbling for more than a decade, the building, which was in foreclosure, was razed to make way for new growth — the Trees of Treloar, a planting of nearly three dozen native Missouri trees on the half-acre lot.
A project of Magnificent Missouri, the new park-like area was unveiled in mid-October at the annual Treloar Elevator Party, and Ketterer said it has been a welcome addition, providing a place in the community that has appeal to locals and trail users alike. She has a few tables set up outside of the bar and grill that provide a great view of the newly planted trees and the historic grain elevator beyond. In the spring visitors will see redbuds, paw paws, cypress and other native trees come into bloom.