Three days from now, on October 20th, the Belle of the Night, a former floating restaurant will be auctioned off to the highest bidder at Polestar Boating Center in St. Charles, Missouri. The Belle of the Night operated as a restaurant and night club in Havana, Missouri until being laid up. Prior to that, she was named Belle Angeline and was moored along St. Louis’ Laclede’s Landing as a floating restaurant during the late 1970s and 1980s. The vessel was built in 1975 and is a barge with a 4 story superstructure and not an actual riverboat. The current owner has attempted to work with groups to re-open the Belle of the Night in Grafton, Illinois or St. Charles, but neither have come to fruition. If the vessel is not sold at auction, then its fixtures will be auctioned off on October 24th and the vessel sent to the scrapyard.
The plight of the Belle of the Night is not unusual as the St. Louis riverfront has lost many of its former riverboat attractions in the past few years. The riverboat Robert E. Lee was lost to a fire in 2010 and the Admiral Casino was sent to the scrapyard in 2011. The St. Louis riverfront used to be home to nearly a dozen floating restaurants, excursion boats and even a World War II minesweeper, but changing demands and the forced retirement of many vessels due to age has caused the number of vessels to dwindle to a mere handful.