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Our First Visit to Mau Haus Cat Cafe & Lounge

April 13, 2018 Featured, Local Business, Retail, St. Louis County Comments Off on Our First Visit to Mau Haus Cat Cafe & Lounge

Last weekend David and I were going to be in Maplewood, so we decided to visit Mau Haus — a cat cafe & lounge. We have some food & beverage while spending an hour in a room with 18 cats and about 15 strangers. It was a wonderful time, we’re ready to go back. You’re probably asking yourself what a cat cafe is…

A cat cafe is a combination of all things good; cats, coffee, and a relaxing cafe environment. You can relax and pet cats, and it’s great socialization for them too! The cats are adoptable, which means if you fall in love, you can apply to take them home!

A cat cafe is perfect for cat lovers who need a feline fix. Whether you can’t have cats at home, or you’ve already got some and are looking for more, we’ve always got great cats here!

We partner with Stray Haven Rescue for all adoptable cats at the cafe. All cats are up to date on shots, spayed / neutered, and microchipped. Learn more about their mission and how you can get involved here. (Mau Haus contact page)

The space is a typical urban corner storefront. Because they don’t wan the cats to get out the old main entrance is now an emergency exit only. The side entry is the only public entry — and it’s wheelchair accessible. There are no cats in the ordering section or kitchen. After you’ve signed the waiver, ordered, and space is available you go through the double door vestibule into the main area.

Inside Mau Haus the cats can climb on many areas designed just for them
This is Loreli — one of two resident cats. Click image to see the adoptable cats and Loreli’s brother Taylor — he’s huge!
The bookcase wall lacks books but it does have steps and holes for the cats
While she were there one cat climbed way up top by the front window
David takung a pic of one cat that jumped up on our table.
Crates near the entrance had new adoptable cats getting acclimated ro other cats, humans, etc.

Mau Haus is located at 3101 Sutton Blvd in Maplewood.  Note that reservations are recommended:

Reservations to spend time in the cafe are highly encouraged. We do allow walk-ins, but it’s likely that you will have to wait for a spot to open up. There is a minimum spend or donation of $5 for all walk ins. A reservation ensures that there will be a spot waiting for you!

There is a $10 per person reservation fee that gets you an hour in the lounge. It helps us cover the cost of maintaining the cat lounge and caring for the cats. As a bonus, you will get a free beverage (per person) and 20% off any food or additional beverages purchased. (Man Haus reservations page)

Just being in this space with strangers and lots of friendly cats was very relaxing, we’re looking forward to going again. We told our neighbor down the hall when we saw them at the elevator. Her first question was “does it smell?” No, the entire place smells like any cafe and the place was just as clean.

— Steve Patterson

 

Aldermen Approved Failed St. Louis Centre Forty Years Ago

March 16, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Downtown, Featured, Retail Comments Off on Aldermen Approved Failed St. Louis Centre Forty Years Ago

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s also the 40th anniversary of the start of one of St. Louis’ worst decisions: St. Louis Centre

This Day in St. Louis History, March 17, 1978:
The first step towards St. Louis Centre

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved three bills that would set the stage to develop a proposed downtown shopping mall, with the only further step being the acquisition of federal funding. The headquarters of Stx, Baer, & Fuller, which would become Dillard’s just months before the mall’s completion, and Famous-Barr existed with one block separating them between Washington and Locust at 6th Street. The goal was to create an enclosed, urban shopping mall with these two companies as anchors, and the estimated budget was nearly $150 million. St. Louis Centre opened in 1985 as the largest shopping mall in America. It had over 150 stores and 20 restaurants, and was initially a great success. Challenges appeared in the 1990s however, as the Westroads Shopping Center was redeveloped into the St. Louis Galleria and stores began closing. St. Louis Centre closed in 2006, and since then has been redeveloped into a 750-car parking garage and retail center. (From now defunct STL250 Facebook page)

The mall opened seven years later, in 1985.

To any urbanist the idea of razing an entire city block to build one massive internally-focused building is just wrong. Anyone who knew better either kept quiet or were silenced, ignored. Malls in the suburbs are doing great so we must do the same.

St. Louis Centre, April 2006
Looking east along Washington Ave from 7th, February 2006

The mall is now a parking garage with out-facing retail at the sidewalk level. The oppressive bridges over Washington & Locust are gone.

2014

The mistake has been reversed, but the damage was done long ago. Retailing, once a big part of downtown, is almost nonexistent. Restaurants are now the generators of much foot traffic.

I can’t help but wonder where downtown would be if bills weren’t approved 40 years ago.

— Steve Patterson

 

Chain Retail Stores Closing at Hampton Village (JCPenny) & Chesterfield Mall (American Girl)

January 8, 2018 Featured, Retail Comments Off on Chain Retail Stores Closing at Hampton Village (JCPenny) & Chesterfield Mall (American Girl)
The only photo of mine I could find fat Hampton Village \, a 5/3 Bank “opening sioon” in November 2012

I can only think of one thing I purchased at JCPenny in Hampton Village since moving to St. Louis in 1990– a pair of Levi’s jeans about 5-10 years ago. My total lifetime purchases at JCPenny stores can be counted on both hands..maybe just one. My husband and I stopped there a few weeks ago so he could look for some jeans — he ended up buying them on Amazon.com. When JCPenny announced in March 2017 they were closing 138 stores nationwide I was shocked Hampton Village wasn’t on the list.

So it was no surprise to me when I saw a friend’s Facebook post about it closing. The last day is January 21st.

The Hampton Village Penney store opened in 1949. The chain had 10 stores in the St. Louis area in the early 1980s, according to Post-Dispatch archives. (Post-Dispatch)

I can’t believe that JCPenny has been renting this 50,000 square foot location for decades. I looked up records online and the real estate arm of Schnucks grocery, DESCO, has owned most to all of Hampton Village since 2011. I think JCPenny got a generous offer for their real estate and stayed around until the end of their leaseback

As I wrote when Macy’s was closing downtown, I’m no fan of department stores. The format of a register in each department within the store is so dated. Reminds me of visiting Sears as a kid in the 1970s. However, I’ve been shopping at the Target across the street once per month for most of my years in St. Louis.

Chesterfield Mall, August 2016

Like JCPenny at Hampton Village, I only recall going inside Chesterfield Mall once — for a free movie screening within the last 5 years.  O don’t recall the movie, but I do recall the mall being dead.That has had an impact on at few stores, with one announcing it will soon close

American Girl, which opened at Chesterfield Mall in 2012, will close the St. Louis County store on Feb. 21.

 The company said it made the decision to close “based on the current challenges facing the mall property, which have adversely impacted our store’s business.”   (Post-Dispatch)

About the time American Girl opened in Chesterfield my great-niece, who lives in Oklahoma, was outgrowing her obsession with the dolls. Whew…no need to visit the store for a birthday gift. My hubby and ‘i were in Chesterfield shopping earlier this month, he bought new shoes at the Nike factory store at a very busy outlet mall — an outdoor mall on a very frigid day.

As a country we invested in drive to retail for decades. Thanks to technology and younger shoppers that is coning to an end. Brick & mortar retail will never cease, it just will look & feel very different.

— Steve Patterson

 

Many Holiday Gifts Came Likely Came From St. Louis’ Jaccard & Co Jewelry

December 25, 2017 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation, Retail Comments Off on Many Holiday Gifts Came Likely Came From St. Louis’ Jaccard & Co Jewelry

Many of you will likely be giving and/orreceiving gifts today. Some of those gifts may include jewelry.The following post was started about two months ago, it seemed appropriate to finally finish it for today.

Like many, my husband and I are fans of PBS’ Antiques Roadshow program. We watch each new episode and, if nothing else is on, we’ll watch a repeat. Such was the case on Saturday October 14th. That night we watched the 2nd of a 3-part program from Detroit (Season 18 Episode 5). When it started I didn’t anticipate it would take me on a long dive into St. Louis history..but one appraisal did just that.

The appraisal titled 1900 Diamond Brooch with Dranwing was brought in by a man whose grandfather had it custom made in 1900 for his grandmother. His grandparents were living outside of Cincinatti but commissioned a jeweler in St. Louis.  Appraiser Peter J. Shemonsky says “they were a very well-respected and well-know jeweler at the time period.” On the internet I quickly find the segment to watch again so I can catch the jeweler’s name.

Receipt from E. Jaccard Jewelry Co

So I have the name and location (Olive and Sixth), should be easy, right?

My search led me to the FindAGrave.com bio of David Constant Jaccard, which explained many company name changes:

At the age of eleven, David began serving his apprenticeship to the watchmaker’s trade. After his graduation he taught school for a year and then came to the United States to join his relatives Louis and Eugene Jaccard, who were already in business in St. Louis. Louis founded the house under the name of Jaccard & Recordon. Six years later Eugene Jaccard became a partner in the firm, the name of which was changed to Jaccard & Co. In 1844 they sold their establishment, but regained possession of it a year later. Eugene became the sole owner in 1849. In 1853 he admitted to partnership with him A. S. Mermod, and in 1855 D. C. Jaccard, under the firm name of E. Jaccard & Co. The business was continued under this name until 1862. D. C. Jaccard and A. S. Mermod then joined forces and purchased a jewelry establishment under Odd Fellow’s Hall in St. Louis, founding what became one of the most famous jewelry houses in the United States. In 1873 the firm name was changed to Mermod, Jaccard & Co., followed by the name of Mermod & Jaccard Jewelry Company in 1883. The house had its own watch manufactory in Switzerland as well as in Paris and various other cities in Europe.

In 1868 Mr. Jaccard was appointed vice-consul for Switzerland in St. Louis and later acted as consul for that country for two years. During the Civil War, as treasurer of the “Societe du Sou par Semaine,” he distributed over twenty thousand dollars to relieve the wants of those who suffered from the effects of the great struggle then going on, without regard to their sympathies either with the North or the South.

I found a photo of their beautiful building in Washington University’s Eames and Young Architectural Photographs collection.

E. Jaccard Jewelry Company Building – Eames and Young … Washington University in St. Louis E. Jaccard Jewelry Company Building – Eames and Young Architectural Photographs. This building was located on the northeast corner of Broadway and Olive, the future location of the National Bank of Commerce Building, then the Monward Realty Company Building.

But wait, this 1880 photo indicates it’s located on the NE corner  of Broadway & Olive. Broadway is the name used instead of 5th. I hope to learn more about St. Louis’ famous jeweler. Since this post was started we’ve seen another segment with an item from Jaccard — see 1898 Kansas City Fire Chief Presentation Badge.

I’m no stranger to famous local jewelers, everyone who’s lived in Oklahoma City knows BC Clark Jewelers has been around since 1892 — 15 years before statehood. Megan Mullaly even sang their jingle to Jay Leno. I’d still like to know what happened to the Jaccard store.

Have a great day today!

— Steve Patterson

 

Taco Bell Sans Drive-Thru

October 2, 2017 Featured, Retail Comments Off on Taco Bell Sans Drive-Thru

Recently a longtime regular reader sent me an interesting article about Taco Bell’s big 5-year expansion plans — 300+ new locations. Taco Bell’s free-standing building design is instantly recognizable: one=story, parking lot, drive-thru window, plastic interior.

In 1994 a Taco Bell was built at the SW corner of Jefferson & Russell. After it failed it became a short-lived financial institution. The building was later razed and a multi-story daycare built on the site. March 2012

So what’s interesting about hundreds more?

Around 55 to 70 percent of Taco Bell’s revenue comes from orders purchased at the chain’s drive-thru windows. Which is why it’s rather shocking that the Tex-Mex brand plans to open hundreds (300 to 350 locations to be somewhat exact) of new drive-thru-less cantinas by 2022. More specifically, the chain wants to make its presence known in urban areas.

Zeroing in on big cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, and New York (including a plan to open at least 50 locations around the city’s five boroughs). The new-and-improved “urban in-line” or “cantina-style” stores to come will be designed to express the local vibes with artwork, open kitchens, and digital menu boards. (Food & Wine)

The first Taco Bell Cantina opened in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood in 2015:

Taco Bell really wanted to be in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, along Milwaukee Avenue, colloquially-known as “The Hipster Highway” due to the bike lanes and abundance of walking traffic. Corporate waited for a while before closing the deal on the space, which used to be Batteries Not Included, a sex toy shop. (Eater Chicago)

This first Taco Bell Cantina, a franchise, is located in an old narrow building with apartments above, see the exterior here. I hadn’t heard of this location before, and I prefer non-chains. More locations are now open in Chicago and in other cities. One new Chicago location is just 2 blocks from where we stay while in Chicago, so early next year we’ll check it out.

The closest Taco Bell to downtown is t Broadway & Chouteau, a typical suburban model. Downtown lacks a Mexican restaurant, though Downtown West has a couple. Not sure if a franchise owner in our region will e interested in downtown, Grand Center near Saint Louis University, Delmar Loop, or maybe Clayton?   Would they dare open up on Cherokee?

Of course, this could hurt locally-owned Mexican restaurants in areas too urban for a typical Taco Bell. Taco Bell is part of Yum! Brands — KFC & Pizza Hut are corporate cousins — maybe these will also develop an urban model? Expect other chains to also look to urban areas for growth — adding new suburban locations is no longer a viable strategy.

— Steve Patterson

 

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