Thursday, April 16, 2015

Clydesdales Deliver Budweiser To Soulard Bars

Soulard bars got their normal delivery of Budweiser last weekend but it didn't exactly come in the normal way. Sure, a man in a uniform brought the beer through the front door, but that's where the "normal" stopped. Rather than being dressed in their traditional uniforms, these delivery men donned green pants, white dress shirts, black ties and green hats. The deliveries came not from a truck but rather a wagon pulled by six Clydesdales. The delivery drivers and the horses were supervised by a dalmation.

While Islanders can typically see Clydesdales daily on the south end of the neighborhood, it definitely is not a daily event to see the wonderful, magnificent animals roaming the street of our great neighborhood. Here's a collection of some photos taken around the neighborhood during the deliveries.


Beer is fresh today!!
Posted by Joanie's Pizzeria Soulard on Saturday, April 11, 2015
Big Daddy's

Look who stopped by Big Daddy's to deliver Budweiser today!
Posted by Big Daddy's Soulard on Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Good Luck Bar & Grill
Some pics (taken by Ginny Sweeney, thanks much!) of the Clydesdales and folks this Saturday!!
Posted by The Good Luck Bar & Grill on Sunday, April 12, 2015


Day fresh Budweiser! Kickin' off the baseball season right!
Posted by Llywelyn's Pub Soulard on Friday, April 10, 2015

Thanks to a great neighbor, George, for many of these pics

Friday, April 10, 2015

2015 GO! Marathon Soulard Cheer Station This Sunday

Do you know someone who is running in the GO! St. Louis Marathon on Sunday, April 12? Do you just want to hang out with your awesome Soulard neighbors? Are you just really bored around 7:30 am on a Sunday? No matter what your reason is, come out to the corner of 9th and Victor this Sunday morning at 7:30 am to cheer on the runners.

For several years now, a group of islanders has been gathering on a corner of the neighborhood on a Sunday morning to cheer on those running in the Go! St. Louis Marathon. For the first couple of years the event organizers held a competition among neighborhoods along the route to see who could put on the best cheer station. There is no longer a competition after our Soulard group kept trouncing the competition. Event organizers still make a generous donation to the Soulard Restoration Group each year to thank the neighborhood for delighting runners with its antics.

The route for the 2015 Go! St. Louis marathon has changed a bit and will make its way through Soulard at a different point. The Cheer Station will be located at Mile 10.25 on the route. The theme of the Soulard Cheer Station will again be pajamas. Neighbors are asked to show up in their best bed attire to cheer on the runners. You're also asked to keep in mind that you will be in public for 1 and for 2, we don't want to scare the runners.

The event is traditionally a Breakfast Potluck, so feel free to bring a breakfast dish to share with the group. Don't have a dish? Don't fret, just bring yourself and maybe a noisemaker. Neighbors and other supporters are also asked to bring a canned good to donate to the Trinity Lutheran Church food pantry. Cans will be loaded into the bed of Dave Perry's truck for delivery to the church.

With the change of venue this year, the Cheer Station is now located in front of a business rather than on a random street corner. The Good Luck Bar & Grill has graciously agreed to open early for the event to provide bathrooms and server beverages.

Check out the 2015 Go! St. Louis Marathon Soulard Cheer Station on Facebook. We'll see you Sunday morning.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Howards in Soulard Set To Open May 8

Soulard is enjoying quite the boom as late with new businesses opening all across the neighborhood. Henry's recently opened in the renovated former home of The Shanti. Woodie's recently opened in the Soulard Library building. Twisted Ranch garnered an incredible amount of press when they announced their plans to open in the former Sassy Jac's space. Shelly's has been tirelessly working on the former Clementine's spot whille Fleur De Lilies is targeting a June opening. A Tropical Liquers franchise is also set to take the former Gladstone's space at the corner of Soulard and 10th.

While all of these are a labor of love, a project at the corner of 13th and Lynch carries a special story. Longtime Soulard resident Judith Howard is spearheading the renovation of the former Hi-Way Bar location into an establishment that's "for the neighbors, by the neighbors". Howards will feature live acoustic music 5 nights a week and has a Grand Opening planned for the weekend for May 8-10.

The discussions that eventually led to this project began in the home shared by Judith and her wife, Molly Jankowski. The beautiful home the pair share is just the latest home in the Soulard neighborhood that Judith has restored. Our beautiful island owes its existence to those that have rehabbed the homes in this neighborhood. Judith caught the rehab bug from her father, USN Capt. Ronald C. Howard. The teacher thought it was time he and his protegee took on a rehab project together in Soulard. Sadly, Capt. Howard passed before the project was able to take shape.

The fire that Capt. Howard lit in his daughter burned brighter than ever after his passing. It was stoked by the encouragement of those close to her. By the time her mother decided to join her daughter in Soulard, that fire was hotter than one of her guitar riffs. She set her sights on a vacant, run-down building originally built in 1888.

The building at the corner of 13th and Lynch most recently housed the Hi-Way Bar, although it was originally built as a pharmacy. In between, the building housed a shoe store, an income tax office and a whiskey bar. For a time the building was even home to a bail bonds business. The location was mighty convenient considering during the time the local police station was housed in what is now Mad Art Gallery.

2731 Lynch Street midway through renovations turning it into Howard's in Soulard
The Hi-Way Bar occupied the building for 40 years, closing in 2009 after winning the Best Place to Play Table Shuffleboard from the Riverfront Times in 2009. That award may be a bit misleading, however. The bar was described as "Soulard's most dive-y dive bar". That's not a bad thing by any means. Longtime residents still speak with fondness about the bar, it's camaraderie, cheap drinks and the cat that meandered around. The bar was mentioned several times in David Lester's book, The Lunatic of Soulard.

While the Hi-Way Bar served its purpose, Howards will be a welcome sight in Soulard. Judith and her team are completely renovating the building from "to the studs", as they say. Outside of the building, new utility lines are being run to handle the needs of the establishment, which will include a kitchen. The backyard will feature a full patio for plenty of seating as well as plenty of "golf cart parking".

Over the years the building at 2732 S 13th various levels of construction with each of its different uses. The entrance to the building that Howard wanted restored features a doorway that is quite a bit larger than normal. A door to fit those dimensions was found in a rather unlikely spot, Judith's own basement. Many of the rehabbers in Soulard have worked on multiple projects in the neighborhood throughout the years. It turns out that this particular door was likely taken off during a renovation of the building. The door somehow ended up in a pile on construction materials that is sitting in the basement of Judith's current home.

A focal point of the inside of Howards will be a stage large enough to fit a three-piece band. One instrument will be a permanent fixture in the room. Ruth Ann Howard, Judith's mother, is a retired piano teacher and soprano opera singer. The piano that moved with her when she came to Soulard, the acoustic piano that Judith and countless others have learned on, will get prime billing at the new establishment.

The piano won't be the only thing getting prime billing at Howards, of course. The logo that you see above, "The Captain", was actually designed by Capt. Howard in 1962 and used for years as his letterhead. Aside from Mom Howard's piano, an 8-foot fountain will be prominently featured in the backyard area in her honor. The front entrance to the restaurant will be completely catered to those folks in wheelchairs. Howard stressed in a neighborhood forum that this was an important point for her.

Another important point for Judith Howard at Howards will be the entertainment. If you've been in Soulard a Summer or two you've likely seen Judith playing her guitar for groups of neighbors on various patios throughout the neighborhood. While Judith won't have a regular gig on stage, many neighbors are hopeful that if enough people ask nicely enough, she will play from time to time. Howard has a full lineup of acts scheduled for May 8-10, including Zero Friction, Steve Reebs, The Alley Mutts and The Darrells. Her plan calls for the musical lineup to be set each month in advance. Howards shirts will be available for sale each month that feature the lineup on the back on the shirt. A portion of the proceeds each month will go to a local charity. Live music will be on the bill Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at Howards.
Judith Howard playing music on the patio at The Porch

Aside from the absence of smoke, Howards will feature another aspect the Hi-Way Bar never had, a food menu that includes more than just frozen pizzas. Howard's original plan called for a simple menu featuring mostly small plates to pair with its beer, wine and "classic cocktails reinvented" drink menu. That approach took a turn when the closing of the well-regarded Benton Park restaurant Luvy Duvy's Cafe closed in March. Howard's will serve from the Luvy Duvy's menu of mainstays for lunch and former owners Jackie Seal and Cassady Caldwell will consult in the kitchen. The simple menu was well-regarded among the patrons. Favorites included the cafe's takes on the classic rueben and cuban sandwiches. Howard's will also look to serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, although those might not be available when the restaurant first opens. A separate small plate menu will be available in the evenings.

Howards in Soulard will be an excellent addition to Soulard not just in its physical presence, but also in the story it is built on. Be sure to follow Howards in Soulard on Facebook to get a look at the construction progress as well as to stay up-to-date on the upcoming opening events.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Bonnet Pub Crawl 2015 Saturday

Do you need something to do this Easter that doesn't involve church way far away and then an over-priced Easter Brunch that will leave you finding pizza to fill your stomach Sunday night?

Soulard, as always, has a solution for those looking to avoid traditional awkward family time on a religious holiday. The Easter Bonnet Bunny Buggy Brigade Pub Crawl Eggstravaganza will take place this Sunday (Easter) in Soulard beginning at Noon. The pubcrawl will feature six stops at Soulard establishments, an Bonnet and Buggy Decorating Contest and whatever other debauchery the lovely degenerates on this crawl come up with.

The pub crawl will begin at Noon at 1860s. It'll jump to Molly's at 1pm before hopping to Henry's at 2 pm. At 3 pm, folks will bounce their happy selves to Bastille before springing to Sonny's at 4 pm. The last official move of the day will be a bunny hop to Nadine's at 5 pm.

Nadine's will play host to the Bonnet and Buggy Decorating Contest as well as the announcement of the winners. According to a Facebook post that may have come from someone that had too much whiskey one day at Nadine'sand made shit up, the great Tulita Pepsi will be the MC for the contest at Nadine's. 1st place in the contest will receive a $75 Nadine's bar tab with second and third getting $50 and $25 tabs, respectively.

If you do that sort of thing, be sure to check out the Easter Bonnet Bunny Buggy Brigade Pub Crawl Eggstravaganza on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Trops Soulard Eyes Early May Opening

Like just about every Mizzou alumnus that returns to St. Louis, Billy Thompson longed for a local outpost of Tropical Liqueurs. More commonly known as "Trops", the establishment is famous in Columbia and Springfield, Missouri for its frozen cocktails that it has been serving since 1985.

Unlike some of the other dreamers out there, Billy Thompson made up in his mind one day driving through the streets of Soulard that he was going to bring Trops to St. Louis and it was going to be in Soulard, a neighborhood he loves. He started making calls to family members and working through the numbers.Thompson comes from a commercial real estate background. His family has been involved in that industry for most of his life.

While the industry experience and connections are certainly important in this endeavor, it's also important to note that Thompson possesses another quality that is essential; the guy bleeds Black and Gold. He graduated from the University of Missouri in the early 2000s with a degree in Political Science and minors in Philosophy and Spanish. While at Mizzou, he was the president of the Delta Upsilon chapter and served on both the Greek Week and Homecoming Steering Committees. Thompson now works for a local non-profit and lives in a loft downtown, but he is looking to buy a house and move to Soulard.

Brad Thompson, Billy's brother, will be assisting him on-site with the Tropical Liquers franchise. His sister Connie will he helping with the accounting aspect of the business and his mother will be assisting with the business in several different capacities.

Thompson has signed a lease with Red Brick for the building at 1800 South 10th that previously housed Gladstone's. Gladstone's closed in 2011 and extensive work has been done on the building since. Billy has worked closely with Alan Dodd for about a year on this Trops Soulard project. Dodd lives in Columbia and is the son of the Trops founders. The Soulard outpost will be the first franchise location for the company.

Construction work has already begun on the building and Thompson hopes for an opening in early May of this year. The business will utilize both stories of the building as well as the patio area out back. If you remember being in the building when barbecue was served and questionable acts were being committed by the staff, you're in for quite the change of scenery. The stairs and the bathrooms will both be moved during the build out, which is very pleasing to hear since we don't really want to know what happened in those bathrooms before.

He'll have 12-15 machines inside that will churn out the famous flavors like Brain Freeze, Toasted Almond , Silver Bullet and Tiger Paw. A full bar will also be available, but food will not. Patrons will be encouraged to bring their own food in from neighboring establishments or have food delivered, much like the International Tap House model. Thompson really wants to be a good neighbor and said he won't be having loud, obnoxious music on the patio into the night or have any outdoor decorations that don't fit into Soulard's historic charm.

The second floor of the building will be used for extra seating and possibly some of your typical bar games. Thompson brought up the idea of possibly having his sound system set so the second floor can be used for sporting events and such as well.

For now, you can follow Tropical Liqueurs St. Louis on Facebook while you wait for warmer weather and delicious frozen cocktails. You can also buy Trops merchandise and check out the other locations at 2trops.com

Thursday, March 5, 2015

My Take On The 2015 Post-Mardi Gras Forum

The annual post-Mardi Gras forum was held tonight at the Mardi Gras Inc office at 2200 Dolman here in Soulard. This forum is held every year following the Mardi Gras season on the same day that the MGI Board of Directors meets. The forum is announced on multiple flyers that are hung on your door throughout the season, at the Soulard Restoration Group General Membership meeting and on STLMardiGras.org. The forum serves as a great opportunity for residents and other concerned citizens to get together with the MGI folks to talk about what went right and what went wrong during the recently completed Carnival season.

When I first started going to these forums, they were typically lightly attended. In the last couple years, attendance has grown a bit, which is a good thing. Considering the number of people who seem to have opinions on the event, it's still pretty lightly attended. Some good points are usually brought up at the forum in between the regular bitching you'd expect.

I'll try to hit the main points I heard tonight and say a little about each of them.

Why Doesn't MGI Communicate More With Neighbors Throughout The Year

This is an interesting issue to bring us. Mardi Gras, Inc, is made up of representatives from groups representing residents and business owners in Soulard and neighboring Kosciusko. The board was originally set up like this back in 1999/2000 so that residents and business owners in the neighborhood would always be ultimately in charge of how the event was run. MGI board members only serve at the pleasure of the groups they represent. These board members are at the monthly meeting of the organization that represents the neighbors (Soulard Restoration Group) and the business owners (Soulard Business Association). If you want to know what is going on, ask them. They represent you. If you want your representatives to start speaking at your meetings, typing something up for the SRG Blaster or Next Door, ask them to. If you aren't a member of one of the groups represented on the MGI board then you have only yourself to blame.

I will admit that it would be nice if the board minutes were posted monthly online for all to see. I spoke with a board member after the meeting and I am working on getting copies of the monthly minutes to post on this site as they are approved.

The Southern Comfort Stages Are Causing Issues

Tim Lorson, the Executive Director of Mardi Gras, Inc., addressed this by saying that he brought this exact issue up to the MGI board right before this forum. Crowds gathered around these stages seem to have been a cause of vandalism and excessive trash at 9th & Russell. Lorson said he is meeting with the Southern Comfort folks soon and will be asking them to either have a plan to address these issues or the stages will be going away. Another issue was the choice of music being played by these DJs. Lorson said while he won't be giving them a playlist or anything because in his words, "no one would come if I chose the music", he will be asking them to lower the volume, cease blaring vulgar language and possibly play a wider variety of music.

Lorson seems to have a handle of this one. I know of at least one bar owner, who is a woman you don't want to mess with, who personally let one of these DJs know that he needed to "quit that shit" or she would pull the plug herself. I'm not really sure what the person asking this question wanted as an answer because nothing Tim said seemed to be good enough for him. The resident did say that he hadn't been out of his house on Grand Parade Day in about 6 years, so not sure if a suitable response existed. (Correction: The resident actually said he hasn't left his house unattended in six years)

Bottles And Cans Being Consumed, Security Guards Not Seeming To Care

On Grand Parade Day, barricades are set up at each entrance to the neighborhood and security guards are positioned at each. Dumpsters are also dropped at each entrance. The security guards in the yellow jackets are there to inform people that cans, bottles and backpacks are not allowed. The security guards do what they can to keep these things out, but they can't get everything. It is emphasized at each Police roll call that these items are not allowed and officers are told to have these things thrown away if they see them. Neither gas stations in the neighborhood nor beer stands are allowed to sell cans or bottles. Many of those that you do see come from either people sneaking them in or from houses where the beer is already stored prior to GPD. Next year, be sure to remind your neighbors to have a couple sleeves of plastic cups so that no cans leave their houses. Cans and bottles are often discarded on our streets and could possibly be used as weapons.

Lorson said that he will reiterate to the security teams the need to do as much as possible to keep these things out of the Red Zone. He reminded folks that on GPD you are advised to call the MGI office at 314-771-5110 so that it can be addressed. In the event of an emergency, you should of course call 9-1-1.

Can Something To Be Done To Remind People That Soulard Is A Neighborhood?

Lorson addressed this by saying that all of the major radio networks in the area broadcast PSAs saying just that during the Mardi Gras season. In every television spot done in association with Mardi Gras this is also stressed. Someone suggested that some banners be hung in the neighborhood reminding people of this as well. I know Mayor Slay routinely tweets out this exact message during the Carnival season.

The bottom line is "You Can't Fix Stupid". Everyone that comes down to Soulard knows this is a neighborhood, even the douche canoes. I highly doubt a banner is going to stop someone from doing something stupid on Grand Parade Day. If it makes some people feel better then I'm all for doing it, but I don't have high hopes of it helping much.

Why Didn't More People Know About This Forum?

Like the earlier issue of communication, this one is a curious one. It was brought up in the context of "there aren't more people at this meeting so clearly you didn't promote it enough". The meeting is talked about in the flyers that get hung on your door throughout the season. I don't know how you could get any more direct than that. You don't read things that get hung on your door? That's not anyone else's problem. Seems to be like you don't care enough. The meeting has also been on the front page of STLMardiGras.org for at least a week. Again, it seems to me like if someone cared enough about having their concerns heard, they would check out the website and see that. As a kicker, the forum information was posted on Next Door, the very communication tool people talked about using earlier for better communication.

This is just a quick recap of the forum and some things to think about. I think Mardi Gras, Inc puts on a great event and does some great work. They aren't perfect and that's one of the reasons they have this forum so, that they get the feedback they need to improve year after year.

I would encourage each and every neighbor who has an interest to make a point to come to this event next year. An awesome group of neighbors came to the forum tonight because they had seen some of the opinions posted on Next Door and had heard about this event in previous years. The filled the front row and the forum and their sole purpose of being there was to talk about how appreciative they are of the event and the work that goes into putting it on.

Did I get something wrong? Did I miss something? Let's hear it.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mission Taco/Sugarfire Taco Coming In March

Beginning tomorrow, March 1, a new taco will be gracing the menu at Mission Taco Joint on Lafayette. The Pig On A Mission taco is a collaboration between Mission and Sugarfire Smokehouse. The taco will be available throughout the month at both Mission locations as well as at Sugarfire. A portion of the proceeds for each sale will go to the Strange Cares program.

Strange Cares is a charity program launched by Strange Donuts last year to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girls On The Run, and The Children’s Heart Foundation.

The taco will feature Ancho Smoked Pork with Pineapple Salsa, Hibiscus Pickled Onions and Habaneroa Lime Slaw topped with Chipotle BBQ Sauce. A Mission-made tortilla will of course attempt to corral all that goodness.

Source: Sugarfire Smokehouse Facebook page.
The specialty taco will be sold at Sugarfire at part of a special consisting of 3 of the tacos and a side for $11. $1 from each sale will go to Strange Cares.

The Strange Donuts folks made a video to announce the Pig On A Mission taco. Mission's Jason Tilford and Sugarefire's Mike Johnson originally talked about doing a collaboration taco at the recent Mardi Gras Cajun Cook-Off in Soulard and then got the idea to get a charity involved.