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Vacant Service Station on Shaw Has Great Potential

About 25-30 years about ago the now-defunct magazine Metropolitan Home had an article on an old service station being converted into a private residence, if I recall it was a contest winner located in Dallas. Since then I’ve been hooked on the reuse of these structures.

In February I posted about a formerly dumpy service station on Tower Grove that is now a trendy restaurant. Recently I passed by another vacant service station just perfect for a similar transformation. I’d passed by this same location many times before without noticing anything other than its sad condition. This time I envisioned another restaurant with a patio out front.

The former service station at 4175 Shaw Blvd is located just a block from the Missouri Botanical Gardens, click image for map.
The former service station at 4175 Shaw Blvd is located just a block from the Missouri Botanical Gardens, click image for map.

Some of you might say no market exists for food establishments in the area but no doubt that was said before Olio, Shasha’s on Shaw, and Mama Josephine’s opened.

I’d love to see this building get a new life as a restaurant, coffeehouse, or perhaps a plant nursery/cafe.  I don’t know the owner’s intentions, or the potential environmental issues, but I know from a purely design perspective the potential is high.

— Steve Patterson


National Microbusiness Conference in St. Louis May 5-8

St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green hosted the kickoff event for the 2013 AEO national conference
St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green hosted the kickoff event for the 2013 AEO national conference

Microbusinesses, those with 5 or fewer employees, are an important part of the St. Louis economy. These businesses, though individually small, collectively employee much of our region.

St. Louis beat out a couple of other cities to host a national conference on microbusinesses, it starts Sunday:

Welcome to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity’s 2013 National Conference, the nation’s largest premier microbusiness event.

This year’s conference promises to be the best and most comprehensive ever. Join us as we engage senior executives, investors, bankers, practitioners, policy makers and Administration Officials in dialogue about positioning microbusinesses to create jobs and help grow America’s economy.

AEO’s power-packed program will combine large plenary style talks with small, interactive workshops to help attendees learn how to seek out new sources of capital, understand new products and services delivery models and adopt best practices that will enable long-term sustainability.

The conference will be held May 5-8 at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri as we ignite the power of microbusiness to change our communities! (Enterprise Opportunity 2013 Conference

I talked with Enterprise Opportunity’s President & CEO, Connie Evans, at the conference kickoff earlier this week, see her respond to me here.

The public is invited to attend the free marketplace of local microbusiness event Monday May 6, 2013 from 4:30pm-7pm. Chase Park Plaza (easily reached via the #10 & #95 MetroBus routes).

— Steve Patterson


Readers Favorite St. Louis Brewery: Schlafly

The three breweries came out ahead of Anheuser-Busch InBev together received nearly 80% of the votes in the poll last week:

Visual of the results from the poll of readers
Visual of the results from the poll of readers

Here’s the detailed results of the non-scientific poll:

Q: What is your favorite St. Louis brewery?

  1. Saint Louis Brewery (aka Schlafly) 51 [31.1%]
  2. Urban Chestnut Brewing Company 47 [28.66%]
  3. 4 Hands Brewing Company 32 [19.51%]
  4. Anheuser-Busch 24 [14.63%]
  5. Unsure/No Answer 5 [3.05%]
  6. O’Fallon Brewery 3 [1.83%]
  7. Exit 6 Brewery 2 [1.22%]

Remarkable given the short history of smaller brewers in the US.

The battle between craft breweries and big beer stretches back to the 1990s, when the idea of buying a beer brewed by a small, independent brewery first took off. In 1991, annual volume growth of microbrewing was 35 percent. Four years later, it had leapt to nearly 60, according to the Brewers Association. (US News — Hopslam: How Big Beer Is Trying to Stop a Craft Beer Revolution

Indeed, Tom Schlafly later recalled the start of Schlafly beer after the son of a former law partner convinced him a market existed:

It was Dan who finally convinced me that a microbrewery would be viable in St. Louis. For a number of reasons, we concluded that the best plan would be to start with a brewpub.

In 1990, the Missouri General Assembly passed a law that allowed microbreweries (defined as breweries that produced no more than 2,500 barrels per year) to hold retail liquor licenses for the brewery premises. They were not allowed to sell beer anywhere else. In 1991, we were issued the first microbrewery license in the state of Missouri and opened The Schlafly Tap Room on December 26 of that year.

Soon thereafter, owners of other bars and restaurants began asking us how they could offer Schlafly Beer and were amazed to be told that the Missouri General Assembly wouldn’t allow us to sell to them. Responding to these requests, in 1993, I successfully lobbied the General Assembly to amend the Missouri microbrewery law to allow us to brew up to 10,000 barrels per year and to sell our beer to licensed wholesalers. In August of that year, several bars and restaurants in St. Louis began serving Schlafly.

In 2003, we opened Schlafly Bottleworks where we now brew most of our beer including almost all of our packaged beer. In 2008, we brewed approximately 25,000 barrels of beer and owned two restaurants, The Schlafly Tap Room and Schlafly Bottleworks. In 2009, we brewed over 30,000 barrels. We reached this point without amending the law that restricted microbreweries to 10,000 barrels of annual production. How did we do this? Easy. We’re now licensed as a winery. That’s right. In the eyes of the law, Schlafly Brewery is a winery.

Like microbreweries, Missouri wineries are allowed to hold retail liquor licenses on their premises. Unlike microbreweries, however, wineries are not subject to an annual production limit. Because we make cider, we can qualify as a winery (cider being considered wine because it’s made from fruit juice). As bizarre as it might seem that a brewery could be licensed as a winery, it’s even more bizarre that Schlafly is now the largest American-owned brewery in St. Louis (Anheuser-Busch is now owned by a Brazilian-Belgian conglomerate) (CraftBeer.com)

Dan Kopman became Tom Schlafly’s partner in St. Louis Brewery. Recently they sold a majority stake (60%) in the company to a group of local investors, Kopman still runs the operation. Interesting they started with a Brewpub, the Tap Room.

Many comments on the original post focused on the fact I only included breweries as listed by stlhops.com so brewpubs like Civil Life and Perennial were not choices. I did this to avoid controversy….

I’ve learned there as many terms in the beer business: microbrewery, brewpub, craft brewery, etc…

That last one is defined as:

An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.

Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition.

Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.

Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor. (Brewers Association)

And craft beer sales continue to climb, taking away sales from the big guys:

Click image for source
Source: Craft Brewers Association, click to view

Note how the Craft Brewers Association distinguishes between:

  • Regional craft brewers
  • Contract brewing companies
  • Microbreweries
  • Brewpubs

I still have a lot to learn.

A close second on the list was the 2-year old Urban Chestnut Brewery which just announced a second location that will be larger than the Schlafly Bottleworks:

Once the new brewery is open, Urban Chestnut initially will be able to boost its annual production by about 15,000 barrels of beer. The new facility will eventually have capacity for 100,000 barrels a year. (One barrel equals 31 gallons, or about 330 regular-size bottles.) (stltoday

Another brewer not on the list was William K. Busch Brewing Co.:

Brentwood-based William K. Busch Brewing Co., founded by Billy Busch, a son of former Anheuser-Busch leader August A. “Gussie” Busch, introduced Kräftig lager and Kräftig light in November 2011.

“We did the first year without TV, and we want to take the company to the next level,” Busch said.(stltoday)

Currently Busch’s new company is smaller than Schlafly, but it wants to brew a couple million barrels a year, still a small sum compared to the brewery founded by his ancestors.

— Steve Patterson


Poll: Favorite St. Louis Brewery?

Eight years ago today beer drinkers rejoiced:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signature repealed the Volstead Act, legalizing 3.2 percent beer. It also paved the way for the December ratification of the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment and deep-sixed Prohibition altogether.

The Volstead Act, which is how the National Prohibition Act was widely known, was pushed hard by religious and temperance groups and passed Congress in 1919 over the veto of President Woodrow Wilson.

The prohibition movement had been active in the United States for 80 years before its adherents finally succeeded in ramming through an outright national ban on alcohol. The original movement lost some steam during the Civil War (soldiers drink; deal with it) but was revived with a vengeance by the Prohibition Party and Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. (Wired)

Remaining breweries in St. Louis were also relieved to be able to legally produce beer once again after 13+ long years.

Fast forward to today and beer is a popular beverage in St. Louis with breweries &  brewpubs in many parts of the region. Which brings us to the poll question for this week: What is your favorite St. Louis Brewery?

The list of breweries was taken from STL Hops:

The poll is in the right sidebar. Check out the St. Louis Beer Map for breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, etc. Of course, if you are 21 and choose to drink, please do so responsibly.

— Steve Patterson


Chronicle Coffee Now Open, Grand Opening Soon

Last July I posted about a New Coffeehouse Opening Soon on Page Blvd Just East of Grand Ave. It took a white while to open but last month it finally did. A few days ago I met someone there and returned for lunch.  The concept is simple, a nice neighborhood coffeehouse that hires employees from the area.

ABOVE: Chronicle Coffee is located in the corner of a building that also houses the St. Louis Public Housing Authority and a PNG Bank branch.  Click for Google Maps.
ABOVE: Chronicle Coffee is located in the corner of a building that also houses the St. Louis Public Housing Authority and a PNG Bank branch. Click for Google Maps.

But how do you make such an enterprise financially viable? During my visit I was able to chat with the owner, turns out the answer is through acquisition!

Rick Milton, owner of Northwest Coffee Roasting Co., has sold his company to Jason Wilson, the owner of Chronicle Coffee. Chronicle is located just north of Grand Center at 1235 Blumeyer Ave. The sale, completed in December, includes both the Northwest Coffee roasting operation as well as Northwest Coffee cafes in Clayton and the Central West End. (Sauce Magazine)

By buying the well established Northwest Coffee Wilson has quality coffee for Chronicle and a good place to train new employees.

ABOVE: Owner Jason Wilson sat down with us to talk about Chronicle, Northwest and creating jobs in a community in need of work.
ABOVE: Owner Jason Wilson sat down with us to talk about Chronicle, Northwest, and creating jobs in a community in need of more employment opportunities.
ABOVE: Tables & chairs will arrive next month
ABOVE: Tables & chairs will arrive next month

One wall of Chronicle Coffee includes enlarged black & white prints of the former Blumeyer public housing project that once  occupied the immediate area.I know I’ll return when I’m nearby. Wilson is finalizing plans for their grand opening later this month.

— Steve Patterson