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.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

St. Louis Cardinals Back Jack Coatar

In case you live under a rock or don't care about one of the great American freedoms, I'm here to inform you of something. Phylllis Young, the longtime 7th Ward Alderwoman, retired in December. Three Democratic candidates are running in the upcoming Democratic Primary to fill her seat. Voters in this ward will elect one person on March 3 out of the field of John (Jack) Coatar, Chelsea Merta and Samuel Cummings III to represent us.. Sure, this is only the Democratic Primary but there's a 99.9% chance the winner of this race is our next 7th Ward Alderman.

All three of these candidates have been civil to each other in the debates and forums I've seen. They've all pledged to work with whomever gets elected to make this ward a better place. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses. I'm not here to tell you who to vote for, although I'll say right now I consider Jack Coatar a friend and will be voting for him on Tuesday, March 3. I encourage readers to check out all three candidates and vote for the one they feel will truly make the 7th Ward and St. Louis a better place.

That being said, I'd like to point out something. You see, I generally don't really care which companies contribute to political campaigns. The 7th Ward Independent Democrats think you all should care that Red Brick has donated to the Jack Coatar campaign. Don't be fooled by the Independent part of their name. The blog is awash in pink, the hallmark of Merta's campaign. The blog regularly takes shots at Samuel Cummings III, who apparently was once a member of the organization.

The blog conveniently put out this post condemning Red Brick's contribution to Coatar's campaign at a time when the company's policies during the Mardi Gras season are a hot topic in the neighborhood. On the subject of Red Brick, think about where Soulard would be without the company. How many of these homes occupied by renters now would be vacant? How many businesses would be here? Red Brick isn't perfect, no company is.

We could argue all day about Red Brick as a neighbor, but that's not what this post is about. Should you be holding a contribution of $1,000 by the company against the candidate? If anything, it shows that the candidate is on good terms with whomever controls the purse strings in that company and has their ear. That's a good thing, in case I didn't explain myself well.

However, if we are going to talk about donations from companies, there's an interesting line item in one of Coatar's financial reports. Eight days after he took $1,000 from Red Brick, he received a $2,500 donation from another St. Louis business. This business is the most important business in the 7th Ward; the most important business to St. Louis City and probably the most important business in the St Louis region. It's also beloved in many parts of the country, at least where the sweet sounds of KMOX can be heard in the Spring, Summer and Fall evenings.

That company that donated $2,500 to the Coatar For St. Louis campaign is of course the St. Louis Cardinals.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day at The Biergarten at A-B

Over on RealLifeSTL you can find the details for what's going on at The Biergarten at Anheuser-Busch this Saturday.

The Brewery is of course on the Southern edge of Soulard and might be a bit of a walk for some, but then again, maybe you have a golf cart? Chef Travis Odle makes some delicious food and the restaurant area is really done right. The prices are reasonable and the tent in the winter time is a great experience.

The Biergarten is offering what amounts to a $25 breakfast buffet that includes three beers. No menu yet for the buffet but it is guaranteed to have an omelet station. If you've eaten over there before, you know that the food is most always pretty delicious. A post on The Biergarten's Facebook page says that you will be able to choose from 18 beers on tap for your three beers.

The Biergarten will be open from 8 AM - 8 PM on Saturday with the breakfast buffet being served from 8 AM - 11 AM and a "New Orleans-inspired" menu being served after that. The restaurant features separate indoor and outdoor seating areas with the outdoor area covered with a tent and heated in the colder months.

2015 soulard mardi gras

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

2015 Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day Parties

Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day is quickly approaching on February 14th. The Bud Light Mardi Gras Grand Parade will step off from Busch Stadium at 11 am and wind its way south to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

Here's a roundup of all of the major ticketed tent parties happening in Soulard on Grand Parade Day. I did not include the &10 ticket events such as as iTap and Social House. These tickets may or may not get you a free beer. They will get you access to private restrooms, however.

Note that all parties include in and out privileges all day unless otherwise noted.

Malibu VIP Tent @ Molly's -- $100

Open Bar: 11am - 10:30pm
Food: 1pm - 5pm
Private Restrooms: Yes

Get your tickets to the Malibu VIP Tent @ Molly's

iTap VIP Mardi Gras Party -- $100

Open Bar: 11am - 6pm
Food: Catered by Epic Pizza & Subs
Private Restrooms: Yes

All 44 taps will be open for open bar. At least one Cider beer will be available. This party is just for the inside area of iTap. Your ticket will also get you into the patio party but you will have to enter through a different entrance for that

Get your tickets to the iTap VIP Mardi Gras Party

Mardi Gras VIP Lounge At The Porch -- $70

Open Bar: 10am - 5pm
Food: Snacks
Privates Restrooms: Yes

Open bar will consist of Hurricanes, beer and well drinks

Get your tickets to the Mardi Gras VIP Lounge at The Porch

Joanies Mardi Gras Party Pacakge -- $85

Open Bar: 10:30am - 6:30pm
Food: Unlimited Cajun Buffet
Private Restrooms: Yes

Open bar will consists of beer, well drinks and Hurricanes. DJ Record Spin will be playing music in the heated tent.

Get your tickets to for the Joanie's Mardi Gras Party

Big Daddy's Ultimate Mardi Gras All-Inclusive Package -- $100

Open Bar: 8am - 6pm
Food: Kegs & Eggs Breakfast Buffet from 8-11am. Lunch Buffet from 11am-5pm
Private Restrooms: Yes

Open bar will consist of beers, call and Three Olives vodka drinks. Shots not included but discounted. Bloody Mary bar from 8am-11am. Whiskey Dixon playing 9am-Noon. Social Remedy 2pm-6pm. DJs playing upstairs and Main Bar all day & night. Shuttle service running all day from parade route to bar.

Get your tickets for the Big Daddy's Ultimate Mardi Gras All-Inclusive Package

Monster Tent (DB's Parking Lot) -- $99

Open Bar: 10:30am - 4 pm
Food: None included. Food available from DB's
Private Restrooms: Yes

Open bar is "premium" and will included Bud Light, Bud Select, Budweiser, Busch, Lima-A-Rita, Jack Daniel's, Jack Daniel's Honey, Souther Comfort, Finlandia Vodka and Hurricanes. 32oz mug included. Heated tent. Music from DJ Pur, DJ Rostam, DJ Lou and Slante/JWin throughout day.

Get your tickets to the Monster Tent

Party with the Point & J├Ągermeister -- $75 (Franklin Room)

Open Bar: No. 5 free drinks
Food: Yes. "Mardi Gras-inspired"
Private Restrooms: Yes

This part at the Franklin Room will feature a large indoor dance floor, indoor bathrooms and various giveaways. The party goes from 10am-6pm. Live music from DJ Patrico.

Get your tickets to The Point's Mardi Gras party.

Bud Light Party Tent (Soulard Market Park)  -- $125

Open Bar:Yes
Food: Buffet catered by Joanie's
Private Restrooms: Yes

This isthe official Mardi Gras Party Tent. Three climate-controlled tents house the party. Bud Lights giveaways and a special Bud Light gift.

Get your tickets to the Bud Light Party Tent.

Captain Morgan Mardi Gras Tent (10th & Geyer) -- $75

Open Bar: 11am - 6pm
Food: No
Private Restrooms: Maybe?

Get your tickets to the Captain Morgan Mardi Gras Tent

Dannic, a DJ fron the Netherlands will be performing in the Captain Morgan tent. Premium open bar will include Captain Morgan, Smirnoff and other brands from the Diageo family as well as beer and hurricanes.

Mission Taco Joint Mardi Gras -- $125

Open Bar: 9am - 6pm
Food: Breakfast Buffet 9a-11a, Taco & Nacho Buffet 12-6pm

Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar open for breakfast only. Unlimited draft pours from 12 taps after that. One Cider guaranteed on draft. Mardi-Ritas and high-quality house spirits and mixers included.

Get your tickets to Mission Taco Joint Mardi Gras

Ninth Street Deli -- $75

Open Bar: 10:30am - 5:30pm
Food: Breakfast 10:30-12:30, Lunch 12:30-4:30. 2 meal tickets per person

Live Music. Newly Wed Game with $75 cash prize to winner.

For Details See Cashier At Ninth Street Deli

Tony La Russa to be Grand Marshal of the 2015 Beggin' Pet Parade

It was announced late last night via a tweet from Mardi Gras, Inc that former St . Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa will server as the Grand Marshal for the 2015 Beggin' Pat Parade in Soulard. The 22nd Annual Beggin' Pet Parade will take place this Sunday in Soulard as part of the 2015 Soulard Mardi Gras schedule.

La Russa is a huge animal advocate and is the co-founder and chairman of Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation. la Russa managed the St. Louis Cardinals from 1996-2011. The team went 11408-1182 in those games while winning 3 National League Pennants and 2 World Series Titles. La Russa's career managerial record was 2728-2365 in 33 seasons where his team's won 6 League Pennants and 3 World Series Titles. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager in 2014.

Any humans wanting to participate in the parade with their pet can register for a suggested donation of $10. Registration has moved to the corner of 12th and Allen this year and will begin at 10am. The parade will kick off at 1pm and then Blues Traveler will take the stage on 9th street for a free concert. There will also be a costume contest this year after the parade with prizes in three categories, Best Sports Personality, Best Mardi Gras and Best Celebrity Look-Alike. The winner in each category may choose from either $1,000 or a St. Louis Cardinals ticket package.

The first heat in the Wiener Dog Derby will begin at 2 pm at Wiener Stadium in Rudy Commons in Soulard Market Park.

Here's Rick Swesen of Nestle-Purina and Tracy Quackenbush of Open Door Animal Sanctuary discussing the festivities on Fox 2 News in the Morning.