Barry Strange, ’87
When Barry Strange, ’87, was told he was “too entrepreneurial” to continue in his role as a regional partner for a large restaurant chain, he found some investors and opened his own establishment, The Red Lion: An American Gastropub, located in Maplewood, Mo.
The term “gastropub” derives from the words pub and gastronomy; the idea is that by combining the best services of both pubs and restaurants, one creates a quality gathering and dining place.
“I wanted to make the Red Lion a comfortable pub, but upscale. I didn’t want to provide a fine dining experience, but I wanted to serve great food and offer a great wine list and high end liquor,” Strange said. Apparently, his business and marketing education has paid off: the Red Lion celebrates its first anniversary next month.
“I was a physical therapy major for two years, but switched to marketing in the first year of the program,” Strange said. “Now, I’m mostly marketing myself.” During his years at Maryville, he played “a few” years of baseball and basketball.
Strange sharpened his food industry skills by working as a regional manager for many years, opening new restaurants for various national chains. Along the way, he developed a relatively simple business philosophy: If you hire the right people and let them have a little fun, then your customers will have fun, too.
Adding to the ambience of the Red Lion, Strange hires blues and jazz bands, and hangs works by local artists on the brick-exposed walls. A new deck accommodates additional seating; an urban, planter-box garden features vegetables and herbs used in the pub’s kitchen.
“If you want to be your own boss and do your own thing, you work hard,” Strange said. “It’s fun, that’s why you do it. Having people come in and tell you how much they love the place is great, too.”