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A Fun Time Was Had By All

Tonight’s ‘The Walk’ in The Ville neighborhood was a fun time. I only made it to the first two places before having to return home. Us newcomers were very welcomed by the usual patrons. The bar owners were very happy to have new customers. I enjoyed spending time hanging out away from my usual places.

Leading the walk was stlsyndicate “kingpin” Brian Marston. Brian’s wife Amanda Doyle managed to beat me at a game of darts but on the next game I did better than her but I was beat by 6 points by a guy named Tony. So close… Brian & Amanda publish The Commonspace website and blog. Other bloggers included Rick Bonasch of STL Rising and Antonio French of PubDef Weekly.

The second stop, the Harlem Tap Room, was established in 1946! That is history folks! The place was also packed. I nice place to stop and have a drink. Despite the devastation in much of this area along Martin Luther King Drive a strong community does exist. The time is now to build upon what remains — not displace — just add to.

Our region can no longer ignore half the city.

– Steve


Belleville’s Liese Lumber Using Biodiesel in Delivery Trucks

Local lumberyard Liese Lumber has taken a bold & progressive step — it is now running it’s 14 delivery trucks on 11% biodiesel. I spoke with owner Tom Lippert by phone today and he said the reasons were twofold. First, the cost of the fuel is less than regular diesel (the soybean-based biodiesel is subsidized by the state of Illinois). The second reason is his staff saves time by not going to filling stations — they have the biodiesel fuel delivered to them and kept in a storage tank. They’ve been running the biodiesel since July 2005.

Liese Lumber has two locations in Belleville IL, one at 319 E. Main and another at 2200 S. Belt. Liese Lumber mainly services contractors but they are also open for consumer business. But their hours of 7am to 5pm Monday — Friday are not consumer friendly.

Thankfully the biodiesel in their trucks is friendly both to the environment, helps local soybean farmers and helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Congrats to Liese Lumber for taking this important first step.

Next time I’m buying something from a company that will need to be delivered I’m going to ask if they use biodiesel in their delivery trucks. The more we ask the more we can impact our own future.

– Steve


‘BEHOLDER’ Is Interesting Story of Power & Corruption

January 18, 2006 Local Business, Politics/Policy, Religion Comments Off on ‘BEHOLDER’ Is Interesting Story of Power & Corruption

Recently I watched a new independent film, Heart of the Beholder: This American Dream Became a Holy Nightmare. It is the tale of a family that owned a chain of video stores that refused to remove certain films deemed indecent by a small by powerful group of zealots. These zealots blackmail a prosecutor into closing down the video stores, ruining the lives of this family. In the end the prosecutor gets his just rewards. It is an interesting story that everyone should see, especially those living in St. Louis.

I had not lived in St. Louis long when the story of St. Louis Circuit Attorney George Peach being arrested for soliciting an undercover police officer. That was in 1992. Yes, this movie is based on events that happened here in the St. Louis area in the 1980s and early 1990s.

First I want to say the picture is not anti-religious. In does not make light of or disparage Christians but does look at those who are a bit too self-righteous.

One of the movies the group picketing the video stores wanted to remove is one of my all-time favorites, Blazing Saddles. Mel Brooks’ movies are many things but they are not morally offensive.

The movie is not being shown in theaters because they are having a hard time getting a distribution deal. I leant my copy to a friend and she watched it twice just to pick up all the details. You can order a copy by clicking on the image at right.

– Steve


Belas Artes Latest Business in McKinley Heights

Many of you are probably familiar with the former Marty’s Baking at Russell and Mississippi in the near south side neighborhood of McKinley Heights. Like the various places before Marty’s, I felt it was too small of a space and not open enough to the sidewalk.

In place of the old Marty’s is the refreshing Belas Artes, a self-described “urban oasis.” For me it is a very pleasing and open storefront design, good beverages, an interesting lunch menu (warm Apple & Brie sandwich w/small house salad for $4.50!) and another place to sit with my Mac and work.

Of note is the new bike rack located out front. It is not my favorite design but it is certainly not the worst on the market. I appreciate the consideration for cyclists and wish more businesses would do the same.

For another take on Belas Artes check out the new healthy food blog for St. Louis called, the Curious Kitchen. The author, Lois Brady, is a close personal friend and believe me she knows healthy food. I was lucky enough to have some of her vegetarian Hoppin John last night.

Just up Mississippi from Belas Artes (@ Geyer) is another locally owned business, Four Muddy Paws. If you have a dog or cat forget about the big chain stores for your pet supplies or grooming. This store operates in another old corner storefront. Owners Matt & Jeff have done a great job with the color scheme on the exterior, the window displays and the merchandising. They are also carrying some really nifty pet journals, called My Furry Tales, written by another good friend.

Across Mississippi from Four Muddy Paws another mixed use building is being renovated. As places like Lafayette Square and Soulard become both fully occupied and higher in price we’ll begin to see other areas benefit from the interest in living an urban lifestyle. McKinley Heights is very convenient and just a short walk over I-44 to Lafayette Square.

While you are looking for a home in the neighborhood be sure to stop and support the local businesses that are making a difference.

– Steve


Retailers Promote Shopping Downtown Through New Marketing Campaign

December 28, 2005 Downtown, Local Business 2 Comments

I was downtown for lunch yesterday and picked up a simple but smart flyer listing 16 “fine independent retailers.” In a small amount of space they’ve managed to communicate all the business names, what they each offer, their addresses and phone numbers as well as pinpoint their locations on a map. Not bad!

Here is the really smart thing these savvy retailers have done, they’ve created one website that lists all of their individual websites along with a printable map. Smart.

So, check out shopdowntownstl.com and support our locally-owned merchants. For your future reference I’ve added the link to the growing list of links in the right hand column of the home page here at Urban Review – St. Louis.

– Steve




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