Monday, November 07, 2005

Communism on Cherokee

I looked at another space on Cherokee for a potential spot. I looked at about twenty or so spots on or around Cherokee, but I picked something way out here on Kingshighway instead for a multitude of reasons.

I am hesitant about this space on Cherokee and optimistic at the same time. There are many hurdles right now, most of them financial, but it just grates me that it is illegal for me to open a place. It is hard to even consider it, for it is illegal. It feels like a communist state, which is funny because that is where all the commie and anarchists run. There are patriarchal absolutist tendencies in the politics down there, and I don't really want to deal with that deal killer on top of the multiple expected hurdles.

You see, it is illegal to open a place in several parts of this city. They use the excuse that you need to serve 50% food to qualify. I didn't serve much food at all for the first four months of my place, and now that I am serving both lunch and dinner, I still wouldn't qualify at the Royale. I just sell too much booze. I have too much success. My server checks are only about 50% food. People who sit down and order appetizers, salads and entrees. Our drinks are expensive and people like to order them and drink. I can't complain, but with this model I can't open a business in the part of the city that I would love to open a business. Besides I can't afford to really do food in a place right now. This is one of the parts of the city with the most potential and needs the most development is one of the most hostile.

I have heard far too much by people in authority of "this part of the city is not ready for that" or the even worse "those people are not ready for that." That sounds like patriarchy or communism mixed with elitism at best. That does not sound like America. America is a place where you can make your bit work. Bust your ass, innovate and create. No worries about detractors just make your thing work. But the legal order in our city has nipped this in the bud in a part of the city where people are really trying to pursue the American Dream. And it already has become and will likely become even more complicated if I continue. I don't think it is worth it.

It is sad, for it is not really a business that I may potentially open, but it hurts the current businesses and business climate. There are business down there that are at economic disadvantage in terms of licensing only because they are new, and with the current laws they will continue to have this strike against them. Globe Drug can sell big cans, but El Torito can't help support the full service food market/clothes shop/butcher/ice cream store/taqueria/kitchenware store with the profitable beer sale. Sad. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

isn't the mayor really into you (supposedly)? don't you have tons of connections with various aldermen?

it amazes me that someone like you can't pull off the kind of business you're talking about.

ajay

12:50 AM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

I shouldn't have to pull connections to do business. I don't want to be a lone outpost of the social fabric. I want to be a part of a larger pie. And going into the area, it needs to be a growing area.

12:57 AM  
Anonymous Susan said...

I live near Cherokee, but on the east side of Jefferson. There are major problems on both sections of Cherokee, primarily a lack of diversity in the businesses. Antique Row makes it so difficult for new businesses to open because they do not want "service businesses", retail only. I had no idea Cherokee west of Jefferson had their own restrictions on businesses. That's awful. I would love to see you open a business on Cherokee, we would definately patronize it. Good luck.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous kopper said...

That's fucking insane. You need to start naming names and not just use the annonymous "they" as far as who's telling you this stuff, because it's crap like this that is keeping St. Louis from having the growth it deserves (and obviously desires). And keep after them. Hound them. If they're elected officials, they should not get re-elected. One of my biggest complaints about St. Louis is that this city is its own worst enemy when it comes to economic development. It's amazing to me that any development (economic or cultural) happens here at all, despite the bureaucratic red tape that exists like this.

Good luck, Steve. Stay optimistic.

kopper

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Cathy J said...

I agree with Kopper, those holding you back should be named. This area is the next great development spot. There is wonderful housing and Cherokee needs to once again be a viable business district. No one should hold this back. It is totally absurd!

12:19 PM  
Anonymous susan said...

Your comment about someone with the city telling you that "this part of the city isn't ready for that" reminded me of something that my alderman said recently. And I will name his name-Ken Ortmann. He told a very well-intentioned real estate agent/rehabber who is turning a vacant 4-family into two condos that he was crazy for rehabbing in the area (Missouri south of Cherokee). This is Ortmann's ward! And he is discouraging rehabbing and redevelopment. It's true that our elected officials are this city's own worst enemy. It's time for a regime change I think.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

The biggest thing holding me back is financial. I am stretched right now to say the least. I am going to hound, but only if it looks like I can fund the business plan. I can open a place anywhere. I may open something in one of these restricted neighborhoods. But I am more concerned about everyone else- especially the businesses there and especially the Mexican businesses- that would like to try to make something work. I would like to think that I might miss out on the boat. I don't think that is the case though. I really doubt the imposed economic vision is feasible. The area needs to be opened up and let it grow naturally. At most the growth should be managed, but it cannot be mandated.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Urban Review - St. Louis said...

Cherokee is so ripe for an influx of new establishments. A trendy bar would be a good start. Sometimes the city just doesn't get it.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

A well run Mexican night club would be even better. That would be a hit for certain. It would solidify Cherokee as the epicenter of Mexican culture and economic activity for the region. Think of a more diverse Pilsen.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With regards to the Ortman statement: He just wants the big rehabs by his wife's bar....not O'Malleys.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Bill Streeter said...

If it's true that there are "retail only" restrictions on Cherokee then that's just stupid. What exactly is the point of that? Antique shoppers don't eat? They don't go out for drinks? Doesn't a retail neighborhood need some of these things?

9:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

I think Steve is referring to the 20th Ward moratorium on new Liquor Licenses.

As a 20th Ward resident myself, I'm ambivalent on this issue. It's true, Globe Drug is grandfathered, and probably a few of the older corner stores are too. I appreciate the alderman's desire to prevent more liquor stores from opening.

At the same time, Steve raises interesting points about starting a tavern/bar/club, etc. You're gonna have to rely on alcohol service for a majority of revenue, at least at first.

Meanwhile, on "Antique Row" there are positive signs. Shangri-La Diner has opened, an actual place to eat. Likewise, Sally's Florist is a great departure from the antique-only view, although she is attached to the Pointer family's store. Her greenhouse that opened last year is small, but really nice. There's also a little tea room there called Sassafras and Cakery.

I would really like to see more cooperation between Cherokee-Lemp, Cherokee Antique Row Association, and Cherokee Station Association. Jefferson Avenue is a dividing line and a dead zone. Yeah, I love Hood's, but it's not a retail anchor. That Save-a-Lot is really quite crappy, and the Family Dollar ain't much better.

I just posted something along these lines on
>my blog
.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

Ambivalent? If it is not pressing and causes feelings of indifference, then why support a law prohibiting business that is a cornerstone to community? It would be nice to see some real support.

Even if I can get a pass with connections, I don't want to be the lone outpost on Cherokee.

I hear that there has been resistance against Shangri La to open a service business.

A server told me last night, "I think this is the first time I think I got exactly 50% food and 50% drink." Huh. These are parents. These are sit down meals. The full deal. Too bad I got people drinking at the bar, at the tables and they like the drinks. I also employ a salaried kitchen manager, two dishwashers, two near fulltime cooks and I order a ton of food a week. I have a menu with entrees, salads, soups, appetizers and desserts. Good stuff too. But it is illegal in the neighborhood I want to be in. It is un-American. Prohobition didn't work, and now this spot prohobition just leads to neglect and disinvestment and irrelavence toward important growing demographics. And hipster white kids are not really the most important demographic in this neighborhood. The immigrants will be making the real economic impact.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Umar Lee said...

These neighborhood associations and alderman have too much power. If you are not down with their clique they will work to either shut you down or prevent you from opening up.

2:09 PM  

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