bar les freres in clayton photo by jonathan gayman

Zoë Robinson has sold Bar Les Freres, I Fratellini and Billie-Jean in Clayton

The beloved little corner at Hanley and Wydown in Clayton will see some changes soon as restaurateur Zoë Robinson has sold her three restaurants, Bar Les Freres, I Fratellini and Billie-Jean. New owner Susan Barrett comes from an art sales and consultation background, and will team up with a yet-unnamed “accomplished restaurateur partner” to move the spaces forward. I Frattelini and Bar Les Freres are slated to reopen this winter, while Billie-Jean will be turned into a new concept. 

Barrett said that she’ll bring her own spin to the restaurants. “Zoë has been a friend of mine for a really long time,” Barrett explained. “She understands restaurants by looking at the spaces, and I thought, ‘Hey, that’s what I do, but with architecture and placing art.’” On that note, Barrett plans to do some minor updates to I Fratellini and Bar Les Freres, but mostly keep them the same. “I did redecorate I Fratellini, but it’s mostly just paint and cosmetics. The vibe is hopefully the same,” Barrett said. “We all miss I Fratellini and Bar Les Freres, and I understand that these are people’s second homes.”

Robinson said that Covid was part of the reason she decided to part ways with her lauded restaurants. “The pandemic was a big factor. It gave me license to reflect on where my life was going,” she explained. “I also had a pretty bad health scare last year that I think was brought on by the pandemic. I thought, ‘Life is short. I should really pursue happiness at this point.’ Not that I wasn’t happy, but I’ve been doing this since I was 19 years old.”  

Robinson said that she and Barrett long discussed what merging their brands could be like. “How can you make the art world collide with the culinary world?” she asked. “Contemporary art can be anywhere,” Barrett added. “And I want people to know that if you start buying art, that can open up a lot of other doors that hopefully are going to enhance your life. She’s creating experiences for people on a nightly basis, while I’m trying to create experiences on a longer-term basis. Both have to do with enhancing your life.”  

Robinson said that leaving the St. Louis restaurant scene will be difficult for her. “It’s going to be rough. It’s going to be hard not to [miss it],” she said. “You know, that was my life. I truly, truly loved it. St. Louis was really good to me.”