Today, the Grove is a thriving district that hosts a diverse range of businesses offering up street murals, craft beers, global food choices, dance floors, and spots to shop and grab a coffee. For the month of August, we decided to sit down and chat with two local business owners who bring an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere to The Grove through entertainment and nightlife.
Meet the Owners
John Oberkramer and Jeromy Ruot have owned Just John since 2009, when they bought the bar from its previous owner. When asked about the decision to open Just John in the Grove, the owners said that “The Grove chose us.” The space has been a gay establishment since the late 1990s, and John has worked there for 22 years—starting as a bar back and working his way up to bartender and then manager. When the previous owner was looking to sell the business, John and Jeromy made the decision to buy the bar and rebrand it as Just John.
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To the owners, Just John’s mission is to create a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community and to remain a visible queer space in this steadily developing area. Just John offers their customers drinks, live music, karaoke, and regular events including drag bingo every Monday and show tunes on Sundays. They see Just John as a unique bar in the area because of its laid back and welcoming attitude toward anyone and everyone, describing the space as “gay Cheers.”
The number of employees at Just John ranges from 15 to as many as 50 people depending on the season and when including each week’s various DJs and performers. In the next five years, the owners plan to still be here, in The Grove, providing an inclusive and welcoming nightlife spot to the community while continuing to grow their business.
Jeromy and John are actively involved in community work, most notably with St. Louis Effort for AIDS, gay sports team sponsorships in the city’s gay leagues, Gateway Pet Guardians, Bartenders Review, Wild Bird Sanctuary, Operation Food Search, and Doorways. Just John periodically offers HIV screenings to guests at the bar, and offers local organizations opportunities to guest bartend with a portion of their tips going directly to their cause. The owners strive for Just John to be a business in The Grove that is open to anyone and everyone, and one that is deeply committed to the LGBTQ+ community.
The owners of Just John’s favorite aspects of The Grove are its continuing growth, the diverse crowds that frequent their bar, and the overall welcoming atmosphere felt in all the bars here.
For more information about Just John, you can visit their website at www.justjohnclub.com or check them out on Facebook and Instagram at @justjohnclub.