Thursday, February 02, 2006

Cherokee business

I went down to the Honduran joint, Los Catrachos, on Cherokee last week for dinner. It is pretty good. It is not my first stop on Cherokee, for I like spicy Mexican food like over at Casa Lupita or Bronco. But the food at Los Catrachos is certainly tasty and cheap!

The owner waited on the table. He had spruced the place up since I had last been. He had sort of a mini grocery in the back. This place has been all sorts of businesses over the years. Brick Oven Pizza was there. They were really involved in the community, the weed and seed. The owners were very active. They didn't exactly get rich off of it and moved on to better things. The next owners were a soul food joint. I never went, for if I have tacos or soul food in front of me, as I do when I stand on Cherokee, tacos will win.

This is the only Honduran restaurant that I know of in the STL. And it is located on Cherokee. This is quite obviously great. I talked with the owner for a bit. His name is Dennis. He recognized me and wanted to tell me of his latest problem. He just got broken into the previous night. They robbed the place of cologne, perfume and a few other things. They came in and closed the curtains and went to work. This sucks.

He said how he wants to move his restaurant to a better neighborhood. Business is slow. He speaks positively, but it was obvious things were tight. I could tell in his voice. He sounded desperate. Dennis is church going guy. He told me how he does not hate, and how he prays for the people that broke into his business. I spoke in a very positive fashion back to him. He told me how he wants to open a grocery store in the next space. He wants to buy the building, move upstairs with his family. He wants to make a Honduran grocery store. I know that is the first one in the STL. He can't get the money from the bank. Business is not exactly popping for him on Cherokee. This is not a good indicator of a positive business climate on the street.

Do we really listen to those who are making our city work?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear him loud and clear.

He wants to move.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

I love conversations like this and respond with due respect to all parties involved. Some questions.

1. Is there a significant enough difference between a Honduran grocery and one of the other Latino groceries in the immediate area? (I'm really asking, as I culturally don't know.) Additionally, would he not only be able to market to Honduran nationals, but a wider population? Is the market saturated right there? Would he be better off in a neighborhood with no presence of an ethnic grocery?

2. When business owners go into a neighborhood that's vastly seen as a "tougher" area, then (rightly) complain about break-ins, loitering, etc., should any of us be shocked? And why aren't we as upset with troubles there, than on Hampton, etc.? What's the proper response, exactly? When does realism clash with idealism?

3. With several of the posts/comments on this business strip on stlstreets, there's been an allusion to a general cover-up/collusion to keep people out or limit the types of businesses going in. At some point, is someone going to specifically and persuasively argue that persons X, Y or Z are behind this? At this point, I'm hearing and seeing something that's too vague. On South Grand, an enemy of progress is City Property Company. I can give reasons why I feel this. I want to hear this from Cherokee-ans. And not just vague statements, but specific examples.

4. Are the business owners of foreign heritage going to become increasingly involved in the various neighborhood associations and business efforts? We could spend the next 5-10 years saying, "they're new to the community, new to America, not as comfortable with the language, deferring to the old hands...," etc., but at what point will transition be made to incoprorate everyone more efficiently? Who leads that effort?

5. Do we (and I'm speaking for a white, urban, progressive, younger-than-40 set) often exoticize the situation? In effect, do we go to bat for the New American businesses simply because it's somewhat sexier? That we can somehow wear the diversity cloak a little more easily that way? Do we lament the losses of older businesses, which have been in the block, but don't have an overtly ethnic component, e.g. the Record Exchange or various bars and antique shops?

6. Is the continuing and accelerating presence of anarchist graf ("off the pigs," "this is paris," etc.) helping or hurting efforts? When does grit and 'wild west' feel work, and when does it put off potential allies?

7. If businesses are undercapitlized and close, or replicate services and close, wherein lies the fault with the district, the shopping base, the City? Can we put some on the ownership? I mean, is another beeper, urban fashions shop or hair salon essential to Cherokee? And am I allowed to say that without being called a racist?

Quite honestly, I see all types of things that could/should be done to help stimulate this area. I shopped there with my grandparents as a kid and I shop there now. And, quite honestly, while the area's more diverse and arguably more interesting today than in past years, I wouldn't call it better, as some here would.

Anyway, grist for the mill.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent counterpoints TC.

However, I'd like to hear specifics Boyle is the enemy of South Grand.

He's done things that some don't like...but he did lots before others did anything.

It was Boyle who moved his Bread Co center to the curb, when old school city real estate pros said "put the parking in front".

Just maybe he SAVED South Grand.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

I appreciate your comments and would suggest that I'm not arguing with Steve or others, just trying to open up some points.

Your comments about Grand I find interesting, in that we're probably all guilty of overhyping or overcriticizing the big developers. If one person or group's dominating a block or district, they become like a baseball manager, getting either too much grief or praise.

I would suggest the success of some (not all) chains on South Grand - and the impetus to move them there - came from the efforts of independent businesses of the last 20 years. The constant influx of places like Cheap Trx, Whiz Bam, Mangia, Siete Mares, TFA, MoKaBe's and others set the stage for the chains coming in. City Property's successes have to weighed in that context.

The lack of a discussed second floor on the Bread Co. building, the pace of the Anderson Garage rehab, the insatiable need to knock down housing for parking... I don't see it a track record of pure success for CPC. I've had many an argument with people I respect on this very topic.

Now, Bread Co.: I remember having conversations with friends, that no one would drive half-way across town for a moderately-okay soup and sandwich for lunch. But every day they come, filling up that joint like their lives depend on it. Whoops. Got that one wrong.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Michael Allen said...

The Honduran place is pretty good, and certainly different than the standard Cherokee Mexican restaurant.

I would agree with Thomas that Cherokee is not necessarily doing better right now. I love some of the businesses, and I like that the vestiges of white hipsteri$m have not taken hold there, but I still feel that the street has been slipping a bit in the last two years. The loss of Record Exchange, Haffner's, Azteca and such have hurt, and while some cool new places have opened there seems to be a stagnant air down there. Maybe it is vague, and maybe comments here can't be more specific because all that anyone knows is that some collusion of forces is keeping the business district from growing.

I think that the grafitti is stupid. The writers are thoughtless and imperialistic in their desire to "mark" their territory with their politically-correct slogans. If they want to make Cherokee look like a ghetto street, it's working. And what's the point? To perpetuate the decline to make the area more susceptible to conquest? The grafitti is a branding strategy, just like the wall-mounted billboards with endlessly repeated ads for certain sodas, shoes, etc. Neither the grafitti nor the billboards could be found in the CWE, St. Louis Hills or such. Everyone likes to prey on the poor.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

ooh ooh!! I love constructive debate, but I am limited on time so I will touch on in expanse later.

But a few points- Honduran is different. The food is not really spicy and they carry Honduran specific items. There is crossover for sure. And the guy really wasn't complaining as much as he was just conveying and saddened by what happened. He knew it was a tough area, he said that from the beginning. But when businesses open up in tougher areas, we especially need to make sure that they are able to operate and welcome.

But, what really matters is the market there? Hard to say. That is why capitalism rules. But allowing capitalism to happen is the necessary component. Allowing the marketplace to happen. Removing nativist legal restrictions reducing nativist private collusion. Creating a critical mass is what is needed here. Creating a center. It is proven that immigrant businesses create positive economic effect- the engines that drive progress. We cater so much to hipster and gay- the ones you cite on Grand- and rightfully so. That is part of the overall machine. "Lets get the gays to move in!" or "We need people to move back from the county!" I hear that all the time. I hear the young people wanting gay folk in the city and I always hear the old folk wanting the county to move in. The only problem is with the county argument is that this is not the county. But still there are county that moves in, but they usually want city.

And it is certainly a good thing to have people move in. But that is only part of it. We need to get everyone on board. From the kids that go to Roosevelt, to the county kids, to those who just moved here. To people that buy houses up in the JVL that look like Town and Country houses on Vandaventer. I love those who want to move to, invest and live in our city.

Saint Louis has pretty much been left out of the revivals as seen in NYC, Chicago and even Mexico Missouri due to the mainly lack of cooperation and the inability to effectively attract new immigrant businesses.

Neighborhood associations? Mine hardly exists. They have little impact. The neighborhood one is good, but has little participation in my pocket and the business association is unfortunately a non-factor. The Cherokee associations is a fractured mess. Look and see where it has gotten them over the past twenty years. It is run by property owners who when they do sell or rent their properties to immigrants place commercial restrictions in order not to compete with their own businesses. The Mexican business association is also a mess. As is the Latin business association. Look at downtown associations over the years. Failure after failure. Now after decades of crap the business is starting to come around. But who cares about associations for it is the business themselves that are making the difference.

People have been lamenting the loss of the magic shop, record exchange, fortune teller etc. But the market for those places has dropped, while these new businesses have been increasing. How many hipsters actually went to any of these. (PS I still miss the old Proper Shoe. I bought shoes there up to the closing.) But all we had done was complain about the area and lament the loss of businesses. Now there are new businesses moving in. And this flow is not guaranteed. We are competing for new business. We need to make our climate attractive.

I don't know how much the anarchists play a role in the holding back of the area, but I personally see them of little threat. They can barely fix their own bikes. They might be a threat to the old lady who has too much time on her hands, but old ladies are not what is going to bring back the area. Kids are moving into the area. Immigrants are moving into the area. The kids are more likely to be friends or at least rub elbows with these troublemakers and I really doubt the immigrants see these silly, stupid signs as threats. I have gotten tagged pretty bad. It hasn't stopped me. That is a very minor annoyance out of all I have to deal with. Chicago is riddled with graffiti and it hasn't stopped this economic engine from roaring. Eventually as the area develops these things reduce anyway.

And in terms of the types of businesses that open, the market will ultimately dictate what survives. But let the market happen. Open up. This is the USA.

And is the area better? That is subjective. I would certainly say it is better than twelve years ago, but not necessarily twenty. It is at least pointed in the right direction. The best indicator is El Torito, a very interesting huge full service grocery store that opened that serves the new community. If it was a Wild Oats I am sure it would have opened to much more fanfare and city wide encouragment. But hey, the part that we celebrate doesn't matter really. The fact a grocery that is there now that serves a new community is the important part.

We have missed out on a lot of growth in the 90s. It is already 2006 and we have yet to fully capitalize on new growth. New families moving in. New hard working people in the labor force. People investing in homes in a neglected neighborhood. It is happening, but I would not call it explosive growth like many other cities have experienced.

I am a capitalist. We should not control growth as a state. At most we should manage growth and at least provide personal safety, educate our children, protect civil liberties and protect public health. Yes, this growth will certainly positively new business, especially immigrant business. But it will also benefit me personally. Greater growth will benefit me as a citizen of this town, me as a businessman in this town. This is very, very American.

Okay this was a bit longer, it only took twenty minutes to write, but I can't help myself, especially when I see us missing out.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous susan said...

I don't know that I can name specific people or incidents- but I don't think the Cherokee Station Business Association is helping the situation. Why are there still Rent to Owns on this street? Talk about preying on poor people.

In addition to the grafitti the trash is despicable. I know I don't enjoy patronizing businesses that don't bother to go outside to pick up the trash in front of their building. Why does the business association tolerate such a lack of respect for the neighborhood and the people who patronize the businesses? Maybe I'm off base and they can't do anything- I'm not really sure.

I also don't enjoy walking to Globe Drug when I get hasseled outside of it. Of course, I can deal with that, but I'm sure it keeps plenty of people away from the area.

As much as I think Cherokee west of Jefferson is a much more diverse and vibrant urban area than east of Jefferson, it's the reasons I mentioned above that cause me to keep my daily walks around Antique Row.

I realize I'm not offering any solutions- just complaining really.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I live a block and a half north of Cherokee Station shopping district. I agree with what many others have said. Admittedly, I don't spend as much money as I should at biz in the district.

I did get some nice deals at the Salvation Army store recently; although I still feel weird about shopping there given the organization's hiring practices.

Also, I am willing to say that folks like Shirley Wallace, president of Cherokee Station Business Association are indeed part of the problem here. She opposed Community Arts and Media Project (CAMP) reopening; she pushed to get the "Mexican bus" stop removed; and she's been an obstructionist for years on the Southside Sustainable Neighborhoods board. She's just not a very pleasant person generally.

To top it off, the two businesses with which she was associated, Record Exchange and Haffner's (east), have both closed! I'm pretty sure she doesn't even live in the City of St. Louis. Overall, I don't understand why she continues to be so influential.

Other folks who can share in the blame include Ramona and Lloyd Jones of RL Jones Properties, which owns many of the buildings that house rent-to-owns, check cashing places, and the income tax places. While they are businesses that attract traffic, they're not the kind of businesses I would use.

I think Globe Drug is cool, but they're not without fault. After all, they sell liquor cheap which contributes to the trashing of the streets. Meanwhile, new biz can't get in to sell alcohol because of the moratorium. Admittedly, I don't get my prescriptions filled there; I walk all the way to Walgreens on Grand & Gravois.

Big companies like Walgreens, Woolworths, etc started the demise by closing their stores in the late 80s and early 90s but holding onto the long-term leases, leaving the space vacant for far too long.

The influx of Hispanic biz is great, and it not being just Mexican is also really cool. But, yeah, I don't patronize those biz very much. I love that El Torito uses that huge former Woolworths quite well.

South Side Day Nursery (SSDN) has been a great force in the past couple years, setting up the Cherokee Place Business Incubator which offers small retailers (like the new Proper Shoe) and the South Side Outlet, with a place to get started. This is a great sign. SSDN CEO Marlene Levine lives close by, on Pennsylvania.

Likewise, Pat Brannon has done a nice job of keeping the Casa Loma hopping, even if I disagree with having a tax prep place on the ground floor in the former Walgreens space.

Say what you will, but I still think Craig Schmid's heart is in the right place. He just has lots of different constituents to please - myself included! I can be as vocal as anybody else, when I want to be.

At the same time, I need to work harder to shop in Cherokee Station. At the very least, I should try to spend as much on Cherokee Station as I do on Antique Row. I love, love, love Antique Row!

3:04 PM  
Anonymous susan said...

^Really? You love antique row? I'm glad to hear that from you, but honestly you're the first neighborhood resident I've heard say that! I'll agree it provides some stability for people who live nearby, and like I said before, it's a safe place to walk your dog. The architecture is fabulous, but it lacks any diversity and I find it pretty boring usually. Sort of like a historic village theme park. I have an old house of course, but I've bought very few things there. I always feel like it caters more to county people who are looking for a "safe urban" experience and can afford to overspend on their antiques.

A big part of my problem with it is that everyone shuts down and goes home by 5:00. The vintage clothing stores have been a welcome addition, but only one (the former Pixie-9, I can't think of their new name) seem to be there until 6 or 7pm. And I adore Shangri-La, but being open 10-5 four days a week isn't great.

I'll try to bring this back on topic- if some well managed bars were allowed to move in, on both Cherokee Streets, we'd see a much more diverse environment, with people frequenting antique row in the evening and less crime on the west side. And maybe even some cohesiveness between the two sections, with people willing to walk the entire stretch in order to visit different establishments.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

I agree that Schmid has a good heart. That is without a doubt. I believe he is very intelligent. I bet he is the hardest working Alderman too. But he seriously needs to reconsider the ramifications of the set policies and the equitable enforcement of policies in the ward. The concern for all in the ward, not just the handful of voters in this historically transitory ward. The ward is primed to leap forward. There are risks, sure, but that is life. It needs to be opened up.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Michael Allen said...

The antique district creates the divide between the two sides of Jefferson. Use segregation on Cherokee keeps one end clean and dull and the other dirty, exciting but not as good as it should be. If there was heterogenity of uses, and the antique stores were spread out, the street would be a lot better, and the east end would actually be worth visiting for general shopping or hanging out.

I don't always agree with Schmid (his stance on CAMP's occupancy permit is baffling), but he is probably the smartest member of the Board, andd the only one who will sometime admit he has made a mistake.

And, while Cherokee Street suffers at the neighborhood and ward levels, it also suffers from the continued inept economic and urban planning coming from the city's development agencies and the Mayor's office. From Geisman on down, the people doing our planning would rather see a Whole Foods or Schnucks on every corner than an El Torito or even a City Grocers. I guess it still seems easy to push for fast an obvious development, but the real strength of St. Louis right now lies with the small and unique projects and shops that happen here but could never happen in a high-rent place like Chicago.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

It's apparent that the current business strategy being implemented on Cherokee Street isn't working. Steve, didn't you say in a past post that the city wouldn't let you open your bar on Cherokee because 50% of your income had to come from food and, God forbid, most of your income is from booze? And knowing you and the connections you have, the chances of creating a new scene down there are limitless.

Look, I love St Louis and champion it to death. But the city govt is assanine in not recognizing the potential of Cherokee street, all the way from Gravois till it dead ends at 55. I always drive through that part of town and lament what could be, what should be. The only place with any stability on Cherokee is the Casa Loma, and east of Jefferson, well, you have a lot of antiques. And I'm sorry, I'm gonna make some enemies by saying this, but Antique Row needs to be open to shops that don't house antiques. It doesn't need to be a bustling area like the CWE, but too many vacant buildings reside there, and like so many people in St Louis, the area is afraid of change.

I know some people actually like Cherokee the way it is? My question is why? Think of how cool that entire strip could be with some development and imagination. Sidewalk cafes, movie theaters, and yes, even a Starbucks. There could be miles of people walking down that strip but for some reason, the city just wants to keep it trapped in its current misery. And I fear many citizens suffer from this amnesia as well.

I also think the lack of development on Cherokee is a crime because it holds the entire Benton Park West neighborhood back (let's not forget about the untapped resource of Gravois Park either). Most of the happenin parts of St Louis (the CWE, the Loop, South Grand) have a lively commercial district that draws people and eventually strengthens the entire neighborhood (there are exceptions, Benton Park doesn't have such a strip, it just has the Venice). As Steve mentioned, a strong business district could do wonders for the entire area.

That's what happened downtown. Washington Ave gave downtown a central hub and now people are moving down there in droves. The same thing needs to happen if Cherokee St, and the surrounding neighborhoods, want to survive.

But what really concerns me is the scarcity mentality in St Louis. Our fine city has the attitude of "well, we want to improve, but we don't want to get too big." And become what, like Chicago? Frankly, commercial as it may be, it's a world class city, and even if St Louis became trendy, it'd be better than what we have right now. St Louis needs to stop being so secretive about itself, realize how many untapped resources it has, and frankly, needs to get with the 21st century.

4:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who blame the city for the lack of improvement on Cherokee street have a very cynical view of how our city works, and apparently a very unrealistic view of current market potential in the area.

Let's ask the question another way...

How many good businesses has the city blocked from Cherokee Street?

And how many of those businesses had petitions of community support?

7:44 AM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

The city just needs to let the area happen. Elements of the city had tried to stop La Clinica, a health clinic from opening. Elements in the city kicked out a bus line which introduced thousands of potential new residents to South Saint Louis. Outside of Cherokee these same elements have tried to stop the wonderful fed funded program, Head Start daycare centers from opening along with many other businesses.

I hate to say the elements are blocking, but there is law on the books preventing a place similar the Royale from opening in both the 9th and 20th wards. And there have been other wards that have enacted this same restriction from time to time. Typically these moratoriums run for about two years at a time and prevent any new licenses for taverns or groceries. I am very interested in opening my next business there. That is not for certain for there are many hurdles before I can do it, but right now the law keeps me from considering it.

I could probably bulldog my way and get an exception. I don't want to be the only one. I want to be in a crowded market with a lot of competition and a diversity of business and styles of business. I do not serve 50% food. I try. I try hard to sell food, but I try to sell a lot of everything. I am doing very well. It just is hard when I see places that serve even better food-not to say mine is not great but damn there are good places on Cherokee- and they struggle. That is not a positive sign. When I talk to the people who own the businesses, most of them have no idea who the alderman is or what an alderman is. There is a breakdown in communication. We need to take the initiative. From what I last heard there is a minimal presence of any foreign born business owners on the biz association.

It is not exactly right to group the "city" as a whole that denies progress on Cherokee. There are definitely elements of the city that want to have Cherokee succeed. But we must realize the city is a huge structure that personally reminds me as a relic similar to the Soviet Union but without the nukes. Okay, that is an overstatement, but not that much.

I was momentarily on the board for the Cinco deMayo parade several years ago. What a mess. Good hearts from the Mexican community were involved- and we have spoken of good hearts here before, but ultimately it really has never gotten together. Incompetent elements from all communities coupled with reactionary fear of what success would bring have kept this from being something great. There were elements of the city that really want and are ready for the area to do well, but each element is just that- a small part. Not enough of the elements were together to force it through.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Tension Head said...

As a new business owner on Cherokee, I'm so happy to see this conversation. I love my street!
I will post a longer thing later-I have to go to the store.
I tried to open my record store on Grand. I almost signed a lease. For a 240sq ft storefront they wanted $600/month. On Cherokee I got at least 600sqft for much less than $600. I don't see that Grand offers a small business owner any more bang for the buck.
The way that we found Cherokee was through word of mouth. And that is the way that all cool streets develop. Someone brings a friend who brings a friend and the street grows.
Cherokee is amazing and I'm glad I got in now.
I have so much more to say but I have to go open the store.
Crone, you need to come down and say hi.You still have my vote for Mayor!

PS We're doing a sandwich potluck tomorrow. Bring a sandwich ingredient and we'll talk about the street in person.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we don't need centralized control, but we do need a new city planner who is not a lacky of the forces of status quo. who will be hands-off when it's the right thing to do, but will step in to help (not direct) when need be.

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Tension Head said...

So, I've read and re-read everything posted here.
Business is slow everywhere for everybody right now. The Honduran market is dealing with the same thing that everybody is dealing with but what can they do about it? I have a business on the street and I eat from restaurants on the street everyday. Where's a flyer? Just making the point that you create your own business and customers.
Getting broken into sucks but it happens everywhere. i know the police need a substation on Cherokee, maybe that would be a good recommendation for the owner.
All of the mexican places are different. They have different food. Is the amount of mexican restauraunts on the street any different from driving down Hampton and having fastfood burger joints on every corner? Or Grand with Vietnamese restauraunts?
I believe that part of the safety of the customers fall on the business owners. We try to walk customers in and out of the store if it is dark out.
Cherokee Street is divided into 3 business districts and 2 wards. That causes issues. Shangrila, Fort Gondo, and I share customers but we're not in the same business district and I have a different alderman.
I want Steve to open a business on the street and I could see him being the Joe Edwards of Cherokee. I believe that Steve should muscle his way in because that is a way for change to happen.
We have several of the immigrant business owners come to our business meetings. They are involved!!! It is going to take new businesses with new energy to get everyone up and running.
The graffiti issue is kinda funny to me. There are much bigger issues to deal with! The trash sucks and it is being worked on.
Any business on Cherokee is essential right now. Even the rent to owns. I'd much rather have those stores across the street from me than the abandoned buildings. Start new businesses before kicking any out.
Getting hassled in front of the Globe reminds me of the old liquor store on Delmar. The one that was right by the city line marker. Talk about getting hassled!!
I feel the change happening on Cherokee. I see it. I love it. And I would recommend that everyone come down and check everything out on the street because one day you can say the same thing I do about Delmar...I remember when...

10:32 PM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

I hear ya Sheri.

It might be slow for everyone right now, but for me it is booming. Even after being open and serving food for seven months it is only getting better. We set new records for sales regularly. It is supposed to be slow for me right now and it is anything but.

I do hope to get in, I just need to get some more time in here to assemble the deal financially. I also need to find the right piece of real estate. The right space is essential. I need something with room to grow for I see the potential for massive expansion on Cherokee and if I do go on Cherokee I would like to be able to expand if things do go well.

Curious, you know what happened to the bike cops on Cherokee? They used to have them and I haven't seen them in quite a while. Before I opened the Panda and I was working out at the SBAC I would talk to them regularly. I used to ride my bike down Cherokee and the cops used to ditch their bikes at the SBAC Annex gym on Cave and 7th when they got off shift. It was cool to talk to cops who were on Cherokee like that. We were able to discuss the situation on the street for I was able to convey what was happening at some properties and other observations I had made. I don't talk to the cops quite as much as I had once done now that I only see them in patrol cars on Cherokee. I certainly don't talk to those cops on Grand. I am surprised they have been allowed to stay on that strip.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...


It is funny that you mention Joe Edwards. He came by on Thursday. He loves the joint. He talked to me for a couple of hours about the place. What our places had in common, bullshit he dealt with, bullshit I deal with, our employees, our clientele, the makeup, the atmosphere. He loved the atmosphere. It was really cool. Joe is an idol of mine. I really admire what he had done. The work he has done. He works with good people. He understands what people want. He understands people. He understands a feeling of place, comfort and how that relates to business. Very cool. Great attitude.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Wow Steve, you've certainly created a great discussion on your blog. I'm glad Joe Edwards has been mentioned because he is a savior in this city. I hope he's able to carry out development projects east on Delmar all the way to the CWE. And when will he get a star on the Walk of Fame?

Even though the Loop has had serious issues over the years, it has advantages, such as 1) it's centrally located 2) it's right by Wash U.

Cherokee Street doesn't have the luxury of a central location and SLU really isn't exactly in its back yard. It's a secluded part of south city that's really gonna have to create it's own scene to live up to its promise. Once I get my copywriting practice going, I'd love to get a little office down there, do what I can to help out the neighborhood. It takes businesses, restaurants, residents, everything to bring an area back.

It's good to hear business owners of the area talk about what's happening cause when you drive through, it's rather bleak. It used to be a bustling part of town in the golden years of St Louis, I had a great uncle that owned a restaurant there during the 40s and 50s. If the govt bureaucrats would stay out of the way and let businesses do their thing, the risk takers could move to the area and make it a hotspot.

I'm curious whether there are any master plans for the street. I also wonder if developers like Millenium or Beachfront Properties have ever thought of doing projects on that strip. There's SO MUCH potential down there, the buildings are simply amazing. Are there any not-for-profit groups or artist studios down there? Aside from the Mexican restaurants, I don't know much about businesses in that part of town.

Steve, I hope something good happens for you on Cherokee (maybe have the Hoosierweight fights down there). It would be so cool to see that area hustling and bustling the way it did in decades past.

Also, does anyone know if a streetcar used to run down or near Cherokee street? Streetcars are possibly the neatest form of mass transit, it'd be great to get them back in St Louis. Wonder how the Joe Edwards fight to get a trolley on Delmar is going, I haven't heard much about it lately. Every idea Edwards implements flat out works and anytime he comes up with a project, the city should give him the green light and let him know how they can help.

2:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve writes much about the city "element" that is keeping progress from happening on Cherokee.

In earlier times, when people spoke of a "bad element", they often meant criminals or blacks.

Maybe we should be more specific, or else, maybe when we speak of a problematic city element, we should point the finger at ourselves.

As far as neighbors go, someone else asked if there are any nonprofits in the area.

There are many. One neighborhood group working in the area is the Dutchtown South Community Corporation. Has enyone reading here ever tried working with them?

8:31 AM  
Blogger allenck said...

The 73 Bellefountaine streetcar line ran on Cherokee St from California to Lemp until 1948. The 20 Cherokee carline ran from Gravois to California and later to Lemp until 1939

3:00 PM  

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