HOW IT ALL BEGAN
It all started in 1979 when Wade Dewoskin showed up in the tiny town of Labadie with a suitcase full of cash… but to understand the genesis of Tall Trees, we have to go back a little ways and tell you about the kind of person Wade was. Now, Wade was a city boy through and through. He grew up in St. Louis and worked at his dad’s grocery store, learning the ins and outs of running a small business. He fell head over heels for the love his life, Lois, at seventeen years old. The two of them got married before he joined the Marines and shipped off to the Pacific. Over the years, they raised a happy family with three kids (their youngest daughter, Jane, is our co-founder) who in turn gave them a whole tribe of grandkids.
In their prime, Wade and Lois created one of the most iconic, fine dining restaurants St. Louis has ever seen. Port St. Louis was a true white table cloth establishment. With fresh seafood flown in daily and waiters dressed in white tie, they offered their patrons an unforgettable experience you couldn’t find anywhere else in the Midwest.
Located in the middle of Gaslight square (then later in Clayton), Port St. Louis found itself in the heartbeat of ’60s St. Louis. Jazz, go go dancers, booze and more… back in those days, STL was a real fucking vibe. A booming music scene with a culture of its own. Young people flocked to Gaslight Square looking for a good time, a strong drink and a chance to dance until daylight. And of course, the low-key dream of an encounter with one of the many movie stars and musicians who rolled through town.
Wade and Lois thrived as the proprietors of Port St. Louis. Wade was the guy that made everyone feel more important than they were. He loved to make people laugh and had a Paul Newman kind of cool about him. Lois was a welcoming and gracious hostess. With her kind, radiant soul, she always had a big smile and an effortlessly chic ensemble. Together, they wined and dined their customers and worked hard to build their little empire.
Over the years, they started a few other successful establishments, including Wade’s and Duke’s. The golden rule for their restaurants: “Make great food and keep it consistent. They’ll always come back.” We embrace that idea here at Tall Trees.
THE SPIRIT OF THE WEST
Wade and Lois loved to travel and explore the world. From Palm Beach to Yucatán to Paris, they were jetsetters in their own right. But Wade's favorite place in the world was the American Southwest. The Wild West dazzled him. Maybe it was because he grew up in the Gateway to the West or loved to watch Spaghetti Westerns - whatever it was, cowboy culture left an indelible mark on his understanding of personal freedom and fulfillment.
Wade was no rancher, that’s for sure. More like a gentleman cowboy. He had a deep appreciation of Western art with a penchant for Russell and Remington. He loved to go to art auctions in Cody and Santa Fe. And of course, always picked up a piece of Native American turquoise jewelry at the Palace of the Governors.
His closet had rows of custom boots made from exotic leathers… stingray, crocodile, ostrich, you name it. And if you picked a boot out of the lineup and peered in, you might stumble upon a loaded pistol or a glint of gold. The man had a timeless sense of style - a little Sinatra, a little John Wayne. He made the West his own.
He was the kind of guy that could rock a cashmere turtleneck and camel leather pants. But would also throw on a pair of Levis, cowboy hat and red bandana to go work the field.
THE KIND OF FREEDOM YOU DREAM OF
Buying the farm was Wade’s chance to live out his country dreams. Within a few short years, Wade made a clearing in the woods and built a small house. A few years later, a barn was raised, then cattle and horses were bought and seeds were sown. He fell in love with the slow living and easy going. The farm became a gathering place for family and friends. A place for impromptu barbecues, lively barn parties, backyard birthdays and sleepy Sunday afternoons. He always said there’s no other feeling like the freedom to do whatever you want on your own piece of land.