Venice Cafe

Tucked away in the neighborhood of Benton Park, there lies a hidden gem that is a must see with a unique atmosphere like no other—the Venice Cafe. Let's dive into the story of Venice Cafe and discover why it has become a beloved destination for locals and visitors alike.

Jeff Lockheed grew up in Chester, Illinois. He was recognized for his artistic talents when he was still in kindergarten. Lockheed grew up to go to Southeast Missouri State University for their art program. After graduating, he moved to St. Louis and started a career as a substitute teacher. After deciding this career choice was not for him, he worked as a flight attendant for 2 years before coming back to start his art career and make St. Louis home base.

Lockeheed bought a house to live in and create his art. This house was located on Pestalozzi Street and is now home to Venice Cafe. Lockheed started transforming this house by doing home projects such as painting the hardwood floors pink and then splattering paint all over it. Other aspects of his home decor were very unique and different as well. His headboard was an electronic scoreboard for a while. He loved to have his friends come over and see what his newest addition or change was and see their reactions. 


In 1988, Lockheed teamed up with his artist friend Paul Cuba and they opened up Venice Cafe together. The bar was cash only (still is today) and had no phone book listing or advertising. Therefore Venice Cafe started getting popular among the artist community strictly by word of mouth. Today, Venice Cafe is still a gathering place for artists and all kinds of people who enjoy art, music, drinks and fun. 

When you walk into Venice Cafe, you will want to look everywhere all at once. Almost every inch of the interior is covered in either a mosaic masterpiece or pieces of all kinds of different art. The lighting consists of red, blue, yellow and green lighting in a variety of lighting fixtures. This creates an unforgettable atmosphere when watching the variety of live music performers that play almost every night. 

The outdoor patio is filled with cement statues, artist’s sculptures and of course, mosaics everywhere. Each area of the Venice Cafe has new aspects to look at and enjoy. There is a boat bar, a bathroom where you will be looking at ceramic lions while a monkey statue holds the toilet paper, and so much more. 

The Venice Cafe is more than just a café—it's an enchanting realm where art, music, and community converge. Remember to bring some cash with you as it is still cash only. If you forget, no worries! If you follow the mosaic-covered stairs to the basement, there is an ATM that you can visit on your way to check out the fish tank.  

Photos courtesy of:
Riverfront Times
St. Louis Magazine
Atlas Obscura 
St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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