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Urban Design After COVID-19: Restaurants & Carryout Windows

May 1, 2020 Featured, Planning & Design, Retail Comments Off on Urban Design After COVID-19: Restaurants & Carryout Windows

The current Coronavirus pandemic will change many things about our lives going forward, others not so much. Restaurants will likely see some of the biggest changes — both inside and out.

Restaurant owners/managers will have a standard table layout (packed) and a reduced capacity layout. Dividers, fake plants, etc might be pulled out of storage to use to keep the dining room from looking to sparse. Extra tables & chairs will go into the storage room, stacking/folding chairs saves space.

Hand washing at the entrance would be nice.

The biggest change may be placing a small kitchen up front, so a carryout window can be easily managed. For a few years now some restaurants have already operated with two kitchens: one for the dining room and another for carryout & delivery orders. This was a response to more and more customers taking food home to binge watch shows.

Placing the carry out/delivery kitchen in the right place would eliminate the need for customers to come inside. There could be a separate order window. Think if it like a brick & mortar food truck.

Ted Drewes has been serving frozen custard through a walk-up window for decades. Grand location in May 2013.

The walk-up window restaurant would have online ordering to reduce lines. Those located in walkable neighborhoods will need larger public sidewalks to allow for adequate space for customers and passing pedestrians. I love the idea of going from window to window getting different street foods. Pizza by-the-slice is a favorite.

None of this will happen quickly, but expect newly built/renovated restaurants to be physically different in response.

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: What concerns you more about stay-at-home restrictions?

April 26, 2020 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Poll: What concerns you more about stay-at-home restrictions?
Please vote below

I wasn’t planning to do a poll today, but a CBS News poll from a few days ago seemed to straightforward to ignore.  The subject is about stay-at-home orders.

One question, two possible answers presented in random order:

This non-scientific poll will close at 8pm tonight. You can check out this question and many others from the CBS News poll here.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Completed The 2020 Census Online Yet?

April 22, 2020 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Completed The 2020 Census Online Yet?

Many of you have been at home for a month. Getting bored? If you haven’t done so already, you could complete the 2020 Census — a count of everyone on April 1st.

The time is now. Help shape your future, and your community’s future, by responding to the 2020 Census.

Most households received their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 – 20. These official Census Bureau mailings will include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.

In addition to an invitation to respond, some households will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). You do not need to wait for your paper questionnaire to respond to the Census. (2020Census.Gov)

It only takes a few minutes to complete online. Phone & mail are also options.

— Steve Patterson

 

Recreational Marijuana in Missouri Will Have to Wait, Medical Still on Schedule

April 20, 2020 Featured, Medical Marijuana Comments Off on Recreational Marijuana in Missouri Will Have to Wait, Medical Still on Schedule
A couple of medical marijuana licenses have been awarded for businesses to operate at 1400 N 7th, December 2019 photo

Today was supposed to be a big day for marijuana advocates. April 20th, aka 4/20, is symbolically important in 2020. However, with most Americans under a stay-at-home order 420 celebrations will be held online — or privately at home.

A couple of months ago a group announced plans to gather signatures to put recreational marijuana legalization on Missouri’s ballot in November. As you can imagine, physically gathering signatures is impossible during an epidemic.

A group called Missourians for a New Approach committee announced Wednesday that it “simply cannot succeed in gathering sufficient signatures” amid restrictions that closed business and forced people to stay home. The group had faced a deadline of May 3 to collect 170,000 signatures.

“We had hoped that it might be possible to persuade the state of Missouri to allow online signature gathering under the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in this spring,” the group said in a statement.

But state officials said no, and the group said “there does not appear to be any other path.” The statement said that the group hoped that the campaign would resume next year, with the goal of placing the issue of whether to legalize the use of marijuana for those 21 or older on the November 2022 ballot. (KY3 Springfield)

The stay-at-home order in the City of St. Louis began four weeks ago today, at 6pm. Even before then I was hoping to begin seeing changes at the future grow location near our apartment in the Columbus Square neighborhood. Nothing to date. I haven’t driven around to the other sites that have been awarded licenses for growing, processing, etc.

Despite the pandemic medical marijuana is still on track in Missouri.

“The coronavirus pandemic hit just about the time the new multi-million dollar medical marijuana industry was trying to get off ground in Missouri.

More than 300 cultivators, manufacturers and dispensaries were all awarded licenses shortly before the pandemic. Voters approved marijuana for medical use in 2018.

This is the phase when all these facilities are trying to get permits and begin construction or renovation. They also need the state to do final site visits before they can begin operations.” (Fox 4 Kansas City)

Hopefully this new industry will stay on track, providing needed medical marijuana for patients and quality jobs.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book: ‘The Last Children of Mill Creek’ by Vivian Gibson

April 15, 2020 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book: ‘The Last Children of Mill Creek’ by Vivian Gibson

Mill Creek, a vibrant African-American neighborhood, destroyed by Urban Renewal, is one of my favorite St. Louis subjects. So when the publisher contacted me for a review copy of ‘The Last Children of Mill Creek’ I quickly said yes.

A true story of growing up in segregated St. Louis, The Last Children of Mill Creek is the debut memoir by a talented writer finding her authentic voice later in life.

Vivian Gibson is a native St. Louisian who grew up in Mill Creek Valley, a neighborhood of St. Louis razed in 1959 to build a highway. Her family, friends, church community, and neighbors were all displaced by this act of “urban renewal.” In this moving memoir, Gibson recreates the everyday lived experiences of her large family, including her seven siblings, her crafty college-educated mother, who moved to St. Louis as part of the Great Migration, and her at-times forbidding father, who worked two jobs to keep them all warm and fed. With an eye for telling detail, she sketches scenes populated by her friends, shop owners, teachers, and others who made Mill Creek into a warm, tight-knit, African-American community, and reflects upon what it means that Mill Creek was destroyed in the name of racism disguised as “progress.”

The Last Children of Mill Creek is a moving memoir of family life at a time very different from the modern-day, when many working-class African-American families did not have indoor plumbing and when sundown laws were still in effect—and a document of an era that is now often forgotten or denied. In Gibson’s words, “This memoir is about survival, as told from the viewpoint of a watchful young girl —a collection of decidedly universal stories that chronicle the extraordinary lives of ordinary people.” (Belt Publishing)

A family memoir isn’t the usual type of book I’d look at on this blog. It only has one photo, a family photo of a mom reading to kids. No photos of buildings, no maps or charts. Gibson does mention their neighborhood being vacated and razed, but only to provide context.

I’m very glad I didn’t turn it down.

I usually just scan books, but this book I read cover to cover. Yes, it’s a short book — but it still took me a week (post-stroke reading is a challenge for me). Gibson does a wonderful job of introducing the reader to her family and their home that was at  2649 Bernard Street. In doing so she also describes the Mill Creek neighborhood.

Gibson lived with her parents and seven siblings in a 3-room cold-water flat, her paternal grandmother lived alone in the upstairs flat. Yes, a family of 10 lived in just three rooms. Well, her brothers stayed in the basement. Their flat was basically beds and a kitchen. A single light bulb per room. And rats.

With overcrowding into flats lacking hot water, but with plenty of rats, Mill Creek was a slum, right? No, Gibson’s descriptions of her street, neighborhoods, businesses, churches, schools, etc. is of a wonderful tight-knit neighborhood.

Once the current pandemic is over I want to meet Gibson to ask her more about the buildings, blocks, and businesses. In the meantime I’m going to start reading the book again, taking note of the many details she does give. I’d like to see another book — or a film — about the neighborhood.

Many of you likely saw The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, about the failed high rise public housing project. I think someone needs to do a film/documentary about life in neighborhoods a generation before they were razed.  Mill Creek is a good place to start.

Gibson’s book beautifully describes life growing up in Mill Creek, it saddens me it was physically erased. I can’t recommend this book enough, very enjoyable. I’ve spent many more hours thinking about it than reading it.

— Steve Patterson

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