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HOW INNOVATION, IMAGINATION, AND MOMENTUM

ARE FUELING A REGIONAL RENAISSANCE


Vibrant neighborhoods. A revitalized urban core.

Industries of higher learning and scientific

discovery. Scores of new cultural and entertainment

attractions. St. Louis is looking good.

Take pride in it, and help spread the spirit.

Learn more at explorestlouis.com


Supporting Nature

is a Beautiful Thing

Find out how at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Sophia M. Sachs

Butterfly House in Chesterfield, and Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit.

Your visit helps us support plant research and conservation—that helps make

a better world for us all. Come be our guest, enjoy your stay, and know that

you are making a difference.

mobot.org | butterflyhouse.org | shawnature.org

01




St. Louis has been home to Enterprise since the beginning.

And the city has only gotten better. The culture, accessibility and spirit of

our town make it a great place to operate our business, and one of the

best places to live, play, succeed and raise a family.

04

© 2019 Enterprise


05


STLife

Contents

PG. 11

A Regional

Renaissance

St. Louis is seeing a resurgence.

PG. 14

Reasons to Cheer

10 major projects that are changing

the face of the city.

PG. 22

Talk of the Town

What’s new and on the horizon in

neighborhoods across the region.

PG. 40

Taking Care

of Business

From geospatial to ag-tech, St. Louis’

business scene is booming.

PG. 48

They’re Made

in St. Louis

The region is an ideal place to start

up, stand out, and stay.

PG. 70

On the Menu

Meet some of the chefs who are

reshaping the culinary landscape.

PG. 82

Culture Club

Whether it’s music, paintings, comics,

or performing arts, our arts scene is

truly world-class.

PG. 86

Get Outside

Green space abounds in and around

the metro area.

CLOCKWISE

FROM LEFT:

WORLD WIDE

TECHNOLOGY IS

CONSISTENTLY

NAMED A

“GREAT PLACE

TO WORK”

BY THE LIKES

OF FORTUNE.

UNION STA-

TION’S FIRE

AND WATER

SHOW IS JUST

ONE OF THE

SITE’S ATTRAC-

TIONS. LOUIE IS

SO DELICIOUS,

HIP-HOP STAR

DRAKE VISITED

THREE NIGHTS

IN A ROW.

PG. 94

Lesson Plans

From grade school to grad school,

educators are innovating.

PG. 98

Bring the Kids

There’s a reason that St. Louis is so

often called “family-friendly.”

PG. 112

Making a Splash

The recently renovated Gateway Mall

is more vibrant than ever.

ON THE COVER

Photography courtesy of

Gateway Arch Park Foundation

06 Photography by Matt Marcinkowski, Kevin A. Roberts, courtesy of Union Station



STLife

PRESENTED BY

AllianceSTL

Explore St. Louis

STLMade

St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

SLM | Media Group

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Jarrett Medlin

DESIGN DIRECTOR

Tom White

ART DIRECTOR

Emily Cramsey

DESIGNER

Aubrey Dosmann

SALES & MARKETING DESIGNER

Monica Lazalier

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Kevin A. Roberts

PRODUCTION COORDINATOR

Kylie Green

SALES DIRECTOR

Kim Moore

DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL SALES

Chad Beck

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES

Jill Gubin, Brian Haupt, Carrie Mayer,

Liz Schaefer, Susan Tormala

Contributors

EDITORS & WRITERS

Allison Babka, Amy Burger, Jeannette Cooperman,

Amanda E. Doyle, Daniel Durchholz, Jacqui Germain,

Deborah Johnson, George Mahe, Jarrett Medlin, Jen Roberts,

Stefene Russell, Samantha Stevenson, Amanda Woytus

PHOTOGRAPHERS & ILLUSTRATORS

Whitney Curtis, James Ewing, John Fedele,

Brenden Finnerty, Ashley Fleming, R.J. Hartbeck,

Wesley Law, Steve Jett, Matt Marcinkowski,

Jerry Naunheim Jr., Jessica Page, Gordon Redford,

Courtney Sames, Jennifer Silverberg, Bailey Shelton,

Michael Thomas, Carmen Troesser, Dru Wallace

While every effort has been made to ensure that advertisements and articles

appear correctly, we cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage

caused directly or indirectly by the contents of this publication. All material is

intended for informational purposes only. The views expressed in the magazine

are not necessarily those of its publisher, editor, or the joint partners.

All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part prohibited.

08



THIS IS THE

STLMADE

MOVEMENT

It’s the celebration of a region that brings people and ideas together in bold ways

to make this a place where you can start something, get the support to stand out,

and make St. Louis yours (whether you were born here or moved here).

Nowhere does the spirit of being STLMade shine brighter than in the stories of the

people who live here.

Join us and follow the stories that make us, us at theSTL.com.

#STLMade

10


STLife

A Regional

Renaissance

St. Louis is experiencing a dramatic resurgence.

The city is seeing significant investment, with approximately $9.5 billion in recently

completed, current, or planned developments. Near Busch Stadium and the renovated

Arch grounds, luxury high rises reach the sky, and historic buildings welcome

guests at new boutique hotels. The St. Louis Wheel’s neon brightens the night sky,

and the region’s first aquarium of its kind is making waves at its base, inside historic

Union Station. Nearby, Major League Soccer will soon expand to St. Louis, with a

state-of-the-art stadium surrounded by restaurants and retail.

Just a few blocks west, in Midtown, visionary developers are transforming forgotten

buildings into forward-looking workspaces and entertainment destinations,

including City Foundry and the Armory District. Cortex also continues to expand

in the Central West End, fostering innovation and helping fuel what’s been hailed

as the nation’s fastest-growing startup scene. At the same time that the National

Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is building its $1.7 billion Next NGA West campus in

near North St. Louis—the largest federal investment project in the city’s history—

other incubators and universities are strengthening the region’s position as a leader

in geospatial technology. And connecting it all: the proposed Chouteau Greenway

(getting a new name in 2020 through community input), which will wind through the

heart of the region, connecting our neighborhoods and regional assets.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

We’re also home to nine Fortune 500 companies, the champion St. Louis Blues and

Cardinals, affo dable homes, world-class cultural institutions, outstanding schools,

abundant green space, and award-winning restaurants. Visionary artists, entrepreneurs,

and chefs are breaking new ground. Newcomers are quickly discovering all

the region has to offe —at a fraction of the price of larger metropolitan cities. Even

national outlets are taking notice, with a New York Times headline proclaiming “St.

Louis Is as Welcoming as It Is Budget-Friendly.”

Whether you’re a lifelong St. Louisan or a transplant, the stories inside highlight

many of the exciting aspects of living in St. Louis now. Created by SLM Media Group,

publishers of St. Louis Magazine, this publication is a compendium of popular past

content and fresh stories, some of which are told by voices of the STLMade movement.

It showcases what’s new and on the horizon in our region’s neighborhoods,

cultural attractions, parks, schools, restaurants, and more.

It’s our hope that this publication encourages you to embrace all of the elements

that make St. Louis a great place to start up, stand out, and stay.

11


STLife

The Welcome Committee

ALLIANCESTL

The St. Louis Regional Economic Development Alliance (AllianceSTL) is a business-led

economic development organization that recruits new businesses to our 15-county,

bi-state St. Louis region. AllianceSTL operates in conjunction with a CEO-led board

of directors, which includes leadership from top St. Louis corporations and key

private sector organizations including Civic Progress, the Regional Business

Council, and the St. Louis Regional Chamber. The Alliance works to create compelling,

customized business solutions that get prospective businesses excited and inspired

by St. Louis’ competitive economic advantages and quality of life, so they can

confident y make the decision to choose St. Louis. The organization also connects

decision makers who are considering St. Louis to the state, regional, and local

economic development partners, governments, and business networks that can

help them maximize the success of their business. Find out more at alliancestl.com.

EXPLORE ST. LOUIS

Explore St. Louis is the driving force behind St. Louis’ $5.8 billion convention and

tourism industry, the officia destination marketing organization of St. Louis City

and County, and operator of the America’s Center Convention Complex. On an

annual basis, St. Louis welcomes more than 26 million visitors for leisure, conventions,

meetings, and business travel. The region’s tourism industry provides jobs

for 88,000 area residents and generates more than $1 billion in local, state, and

federal taxes each year. For more information, visit explorestlouis.com.

STLMADE

STLMade is a movement within the St. Louis area that shines a light on the stories

of our innovative, tenacious, big-hearted people. It represents the voices of our

residents, leaders, institutions, businesses, and nonprofits committed to creating

opportunities for all. Collectively, it’s a celebration of a region that insists on moving

forward by bringing people and ideas together in bold ways, making this a place

where you can start something, get the support to stand out, and stay here to do it

all. Meet the STLMade people who make the region stronger at theSTL.com, and

follow #STLMade on social.

ST. LOUIS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP

The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership is a comprehensive economic

development organization for St. Louis City and County, which attracts, retains,

and facilitates growth of businesses and works collaboratively with public and private

sector regional partners. The organization provides economic development

opportunities including site selection, financial incentives, lending programs,

opportunity zones, entrepreneurial services, and targeted initiatives. These include

39 North, an ag-tech innovation district; the St. Louis Mosaic Project, making our

region more welcoming to foreign-born; the St. Louis Promise Zone, facilitating

comprehensive economic development in targeted communities; and the St. Louis

World Trade Center, which facilitates exporting and foreign direct investment in

the St. Louis region.

12


Great things are happening in our community.

It’s time to be proud of it, and show everyone

what we’re made of. That’s the spirit of St. Louis,

and it’s in us all. Pass it along.

Learn more at explorestlouis.com

13


STLife

A FORTHCOMING

MAJOR LEAGUE

SOCCER TEAM IS

GIVING ST. LOUIS

SOCCER FANS

REASON TO CHEER.

14


Photography courtesy of HOK

Reasons

to Cheer

10 MAJOR

PROJECTS THAT

ARE CHANGING

THE FACE OF

ST. LOUIS

By Jen Roberts and SLM Staff

15


STLife // Reasons to Cheer

1

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER STADIUM

St. Louis is preparing to write a

new chapter in its storied soccer history.

Last August, Major League Soccer

commissioner Don Garber announced

that the league would expand to St.

Louis, following a concerted effort

by ownership group MLS4TheLou.

Several months later, the league’s firs

majority female-owned team revealed

plans for the club’s future home that

spans roughly 31 acres downtown,

stretching across both sides of Market

Street. Beyond the modern 22,500-seat

stadium—designed by HOK and Snow

Kreilich Architects, with entrances on

all four sides and an angular canopy—

plans call for restaurants, retail, and

more nearby. “Our vision is to create

a district around our proposed MLS

stadium that will get people excited to

visit Downtown West, not only before

and after games, but on non-game

days as well,” MLS4TheLou member

Carolyn Kindle Betz said. “We believe

this district will not only be the heart of

St. Louis soccer, but a special piece of

downtown that will fuel the renaissance

currently underway.”

2

NATURE PLAYSCAPE

Near the Hampton Avenue

entrance to Forest Park, just east of the

Saint Louis Zoo, children will soon have

a natural space to play. There won’t be

plastic swings or slides. Instead, the

17-acre play area—the first of its kind

in the region—will comprise all-natural

materials and span a range of activity

areas, inspired by a spring, a wetland, a

meadow, and more, connected by paths

and boardwalks. Located between the

World’s Fair Pavilion and the Jewel Box,

the area is intended to encourage kids

to embrace the outdoors while restoring

the park’s natural habitat.

The Soccer Pitch

Looking to catch a soccer game

before MLS arrives here? Experience

the energy and camaraderie by visiting

World Wide Technology Soccer Park

in Fenton or Lou Fusz Athletic Soccer

Complex in Maryland Heights. (And

while you’re at the latter, check out

the new Centene Community

Ice Center, where the

Blues practice.)

3

39 NORTH

Spanning more than 600 acres in Creve Coeur, the ag-tech district

encompasses the Bio Research & Development Growth Park at the Donald Danforth

Plant Science Center and the Helix Center Biotech Incubator. But that’s just the

start: The innovation district aims to help cement St. Louis’ position as a global

leader in plant and life sciences by creating a defin d district to help attract talent

and spur additional collaboration and connections, creating sustainable spaces

where colleagues and coworkers can get out of the labs and mingle over soccer,

coff e, or cocktails. The district is just one part of a broader ag-tech corridor that

extends to such leading institutions as the Missouri Botanical Garden and Washington

University, corporate leaders like Bayer and Bunge, and other innovation centers,

such as Cortex and T-REX.

16 Image courtesy of Forest Park Forever, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership


17


STLife // Reasons to Cheer

18


4

BALLPARK VILLAGE PHASE 2

Near Busch Stadium, Ballpark Village continues to expand. Last fall,

the PwC Pennant Building opened, housing the namesake firm and FOX

Sports Midwest. Beyond the Class A office building, the $260 million second

phase spans the Live! by Loews hotel, the 29-story One Cardinal Way luxury

residential tower, and additional restaurant, retail, and entertainment options.

Image courtesy of Ballpark Village

19


STLife // Reasons to Cheer

5

CHOUTEAU GREENWAY

Great Rivers Greenway’s ambitious

public-private project, getting a new

name in 2020 through community input,

aims to connect some of the city’s beloved

destinations, from Forest Park to Gateway

Arch National Park and from Fairground

Park to Tower Grove Park. Along

the way, this hiking, biking, and walking

trail will weave past some of the region’s

new hubs—Cortex, the Armory District,

City Foundry—as well as green spaces and

neighborhoods. Led by a diverse team of

artists and designers, the project aims to

transcend trails, highlighting the region’s

ecology, transforming unused urban

space into a public resource, and building

equity and economic growth.

SQUARE

6

The mobile payment processing

company, founded by St. Louis

natives Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey,

will relocate its St. Louis offices

from Cortex to the 235,000-squarefoot

St. Louis Post-Dispatch building

downtown. The move will allow the tech

company to expand its local workforce

from approximately 500 to as many as

1,400. St. Louis-based firm CannonDesign

will remodel the space as “a cuttingedge

workplace equipped to help the

company expand its local workforce,

recruit and retain top local talent, and

fuel growth strategies.” And the company’s

founders are making their mark

elsewhere in St. Louis. In July, Dorsey

returned to his hometown with businessman

Bill Pulte to announce the St.

Louis Blight Authority, an initiative to

address vacant buildings in the city. And

McKelvey, who also co-founded Third

Degree Glass Factory and MADE Makerspace,

co-founded venture capital fir

Cultivation Capital and LaunchCode,

which has helped train and place more

than 1,500 skilled tech workers.

7

CITY FOUNDRY

After visiting Krog Street Market

in Atlanta, the Lawrence Group’s

Steve Smith returned to St. Louis and

envisioned the perfect place for a

similar concept: the former Century

Electric site in Midtown. The $220

million project will span more than a

dozen food stalls, as well as Fassler

Hall, Punch Bowl Social, a multi-functional

event space from Butler’s Pantry,

and nearby office space. Fresh

Thyme grocery also plans to open a

location on site, and Alamo Drafthouse

Cinema will serve up food and

films—a sure draw for families, young

professionals, and students at nearby

Saint Louis University.

8

NEXT NGA WEST

For decades, the National Geospatial-Intelligence

Agency fl w relatively

under the radar, situated in an

industrial section of Soulard on the

banks of the Mississippi. Then, in 2016,

NGA director Robert Cardillo announced

the agency had chosen North St. Louis

as the site for its new western headquarters,

a $1.7 billion project that marks the

largest federal investment project in St.

Louis history. Slated to open in 2025, the

97-acre campus in the St. Louis Place

neighborhood will be managed by the

NGA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,

and the U.S. Air Force. It’s being hailed

as a potential game-changer for both

the city and the geospatial technology

community at large.

9

ST. LOUIS AQUARIUM

Lodging Hospitality Management

has a knack for breathing new

life into iconic St. Louis spots. First,

they did it with Three Sixty at Hilton

St. Louis at the Ballpark, boasting one

of the best views in town. Then they

did it at The Cheshire, renovating the

historic hotel with some of the region’s

hottest eateries, and later Westport

Plaza, where Westport Social draws

workers from World Wide Technology’s

nearby headquarters. But their latest

20 Image courtesy of Great Rivers Greenway


achievement might be their masterpiece.

With help from St. Louis-based design

firm PGAV, LHM recently transformed

part of historic Union Station into the

St. Louis Aquarium, home to more than

13,000 aquatic animals, including 60

sharks and rays. The aquatic life’s just

part of the $187 million project, though.

Last fall, the 200-foot St. Louis Wheel

began turning—and added a colorful

addition to the city skyline. At its base,

families also fl ck to a carousel, 18-hole

mini-golf course, a mirror maze, and

ropes course. And, as you’d expect from

LHM, Union Station now offers a menu of

new dining options, including the nostalgic

Soda Fountain, with its over-the-top

Freak Shakes; The Train Shed, serving

contemporary American cuisine; and the

fast-casual 1894 Café, named for the year

that Union Station opened.

10

AC NEXT GEN PROJECT

Thanks to the $175 million AC

Next Gen Project, America’s Center is set

to undergo a dramatic transformation,

including 92,000 square feet of exhibit

space, a 65,000-square-foot ballroom

and meeting area, new loading docks,

an outdoor pavilion, and a refurbished

entrance on Washington Avenue. The

enhancements are estimated to drive

nearly 36 percent growth to a facility

that already hosts 100 events per year

and that generates an estimated $265

million for the community.

Images courtesy of the St. Louis Aquarium, Explore St. Louis, City Foundry

21


STLife

Talk

of the

Town

WHAT’S NEW

AND ON THE

HORIZON

IN NEIGH-

BORHOODS

A C R O S S T H E

REGION.

By SLM Staff

22


Illustration by Jan Kallwejt

23


STLife // Talk of the Town

Downtown

CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP:

THE RECENTLY

RENOVATED EN-

TERPRISE CEN-

TER, HOME OF

THE CHAMPION

ST. LOUIS BLUES

AND HOST

OF THE 2020

NHL ALL-STAR

GAME. HISTORIC

UNION STATION.

THE NATIONAL

BLUES MUSEUM.

WHAT’S NEW

The skyline is changing dramatically

near the riverfront, where high rises

are sprouting up around Ballpark Village

and the neon St. Louis Wheel now

spins next to Union Station. The historic

train station itself is taking on a new life,

with a state-of-the-art aquarium and new

dining options. Plans call for the muchanticipated

MLS stadium and surrounding

retail nearby. Elsewhere along the

Gateway Mall, Citygarden and Kiener

Plaza have brought new energy to the

heart of the city. Our city’s most iconic

landmark, the Gateway Arch, recently

saw a five-year, $380 million renovation,

complete with a modern museum, a

nearby amphitheater, and the Park Over

the Highway tying downtown to its most

famous attraction. And along Washington

Avenue, the National Blues Museum

has received universal acclaim.

ON THE HORIZON

At the same time that downtown is seeing

remarkable momentum, the Design

Downtown STL initiative is seeking input

about next steps for the neighborhood.

The community is sharing thoughtful

insights on such topics as housing, streets,

and programming, as well as how to better

connect the area’s assets, reimagine

underused spaces, and make downtown

even more vibrant.

HANGOUTS

Three Sixty at the Hilton St. Louis at the

Ballpark offers stunning views of Busch

Stadium and the Arch. Beside the recently

updated Enterprise Center, the elegant

Stifel Theatre plays host to world-class

acts. And new hotels in historic rehabbed

spaces, including Hotel Saint Louis and

The Last Hotel, offer rooftop drinks and

dining for visitors and locals alike.

24 Photography by Bailey Shelton, courtesy of Union Station, The National Blues Museum


South Side

CLOCKWISE

FROM LEFT:

THE GROVE HAS

SEEN A SURGE

OF INVESTMENT

RECENTLY. SSM

HEALTH SAINT

LOUIS UNIVER-

SITY HOSPITAL

IS SLATED TO

OPEN LATER

THIS YEAR.

TURKISH-STYLE

FATTOUSH AT

SULTĀN MEDI-

TERRANEAN

RESTAURANT IN

THE GROVE.

WHAT’S NEW

In The Grove, new developments are

popping up alongside popular bars and

breweries. At the east end, CHROMA,

a four-story apartment complex with

street-level retail, opened near the new

Rockwell Beer Co., made from shipping

containers and housing restaurateur

Gerard Craft’s Brasswell. And to the

west, across from Urban Chestnut Brewing,

there’s the 55-unit Gateway Lofts.

ON THE HORIZON

After opening CHROMA, developer

Green Street is planning another $80

million in residential projects throughout

The Grove. This fall, the $550 million

SSM Health Saint Louis University

Hospital is slated to open at the corner

of Grand and Chouteau. A bit farther

south, the HOK-designed Grand Flats

offers upscale apartments near Tower

Grove Park. On The Hill, Sansone Group

and Draper & Kramer are planning an

11-acre development—with apartments,

condos, townhouses, and single-family

homes—on the site where American

Stove Co. once operated.

HANGOUTS

The Grove has a whole menu of new

offerings, including barbecue from

BEAST Butcher & Block, late-night comfort

food from Grace Chicken + Fish, and

Middle Eastern cuisine from Sultān Mediterranean

Restaurant. Gathering spots

abound throughout Soulard (Broadway

Oyster Bar, John D. McGurk’s), The Hill

(Milo’s Bocce Garden, the new Piazza

Imo), Lafayette Square (Polite Society,

POP), and along Cherokee Street (Fortune

Teller Bar, Bluewood Brewing).

That’s just the beginning, though—part

of the fun is exploring the South Side’s

distinct neighborhoods, each with their

own gathering places.

Photography by Gordon Radford, courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, Kevin A. Roberts, courtesy of SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital

25


STLife // Talk of the Town

Midtown & Grand Center

WHAT’S NEW

The Kranzberg Arts Foundation has

taken the longtime Grand Center arts

district to new heights—literally—adding

spaces and support for artists. Some of

the city’s most respected dance and theater

groups now perform at The Grandel,

The Kranzberg, and The Marcelle.

At .ZACK, fresh options abound at Turn,

Sophie’s Artist Lounge, and Sally’s Rooftop

Garden. Circus Flora has found a

permanent home at The Big Top. And

the High Low is a new literary nexus, providing

space for literary organizations

and writers.

ON THE HORIZON

The Lawrence Group has reimagined

the former Century Electric site as a new

destination: City Foundry. The 15-acre

site will soon house a food hall, entertainment,

retail, and offices. Nearby, the

Armory District is slated to offer office

space, dining, and more—all connected

by the forthcoming Chouteau Greenway

(to be renamed in 2020 through community

input). And on the arts scene,

Saint Louis Music Week and Music at the

Intersection will host a slate of musicians

in September.

HANGOUTS

Want to grab a drink before a show at

the Fox, The Sheldon, or Powell Hall?

The new Angad Arts Hotel boasts one

of the best new rooftop bars in town,

and The Dark Room hosts live music

seven days a week, as well as photography

exhibits. A block west, along Washington

Boulevard, peruse modern art at

the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP

LEFT: THE

ROOFTOP BAR

AT THE ANGAD

ARTS HOTEL IN

GRAND CENTER.

CIRCUS FLORA,

WHICH RE-

CENTLY FOUND

A PERMANENT

HOME IN THE

BIG TOP. THE

GALLERY AT

THE HIGH LOW.

26 Photography by Kevin A. Roberts, Whitney Curtis, courtesy of Grand Center Arts District


Central West End

WHAT’S NEW

Luxury-living options have opened

across the CWE in recent years,

sharing addresses with some of

the region’s best restaurants—

including 4101 Laclede (where

you can find Juniper), Citizen Park

(home to Yellowbelly), and The

Euclid (boasting the city’s first

Shake Shack). The Cortex Innovation

Community, near Washington

University’s medical campus,

is home to one of the nation’s fastest-growing

startup scenes and

restaurant Vicia, whose chef and

co-owner, Michael Gallina, was

recently nominated for a James

Beard Award.

ON THE HORIZON

Just south of the legendary Chase Park

Plaza Royal Sonesta St. Louis, the modern

One Hundred building is taking shape.

Designed by acclaimed architect Jeanne

Gang, the tiered shape serves a purpose,

with terraces stretching out for a quarter

of the 300-plus apartments, which overlook

Forest Park and the rest of the city.

At the same time, the Cortex Innovation

Community continues to grow. The former

Crescent Parts and Equipment Co.

building has been redeveloped to house

BioGenerator Labs and later-stage startups,

and a $115 million development is in

the works at 4210 Duncan.

HANGOUTS

When he was looking for a neighborhood

to open his first Shake Shack outpost

here, St. Louis native Danny Meyer

landed on the CWE. “When I left St. Louis

and would return, the Central West End

made me feel the most New York-y,” he

told SLM in 2016. “It still has an urbane

feel, and there’s tremendous density

because of the hospital programs, the

huge number of people who live there,

and two universities nearby.” Across the

street, 1764 Public House (named for the

year St. Louis was founded) offers a taste

of the Gateway City and New Orleans.

Farther north, the new Up-Down arcade

bar offers games, 60 beers on draft, and

pizza by the slice.

CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP

LEFT: THE

FORTHCOMING

ONE HUNDRED

BUILDING. UP-

DOWN ARCADE

BAR IS A NEW

ENTERTAIN-

MENT OPTION

IN THE CWE. ST.

LOUIS NATIVE

DANNY MEYER’S

SHAKE SHACK

SERVES UP

ITS FAMOUS

SHACKBURGER

IN THE CWE.

YELLOWBELLY

IS KNOWN FOR

ITS CREATIVE

COCKTAILS.

Photography by Kevin A. Roberts, courtesy of Studio Gang, Shake Shack

27


STLife // Talk of the Town

North City & County

CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP: A

GREENHOUSE

DOUBLES AS A

YOGA STUDIO

AT EARTH-

DANCE FARMS

IN FERGUSON.

LONGTIME

FAVORITE

CROWN CANDY

KITCHEN IN OLD

NORTH. BOYS

& GIRLS CLUBS

OF GREATER ST.

LOUIS RECENT-

LY OPENED THE

TEEN CENTER

OF EXCELLENCE

IN FERGUSON.

WHAT’S NEW

Last fall, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St.

Louis opened a $12.4 million center in Ferguson.

The teen-focused facility includes

a theater, drama room, music studio,

nutrition education center, garden, as well

as programming on everything from test

prep to internships, STEAM education to

civic engagement. “I hope the teens find it

as a place of refuge,” Boys & Girls Clubs of

Greater St. Louis president Flint Fowler

told SLM when it opened in October, “that

they feel safe here. That they know there

are people throughout the region who

are dedicated to their well-being, who are

investing in not only them having good

teen years but laying the foundation for

a promising future.”

ON THE HORIZON

In 2016, the National Geospatial-

Intelligence Agency announced

that it would build its $1.75 billion

Next NGA West campus on

a 99-acre site in the St. Louis

Place neighborhood, just north of

downtown St. Louis. Having broke

ground in late November, the new

facility is poised to help put St.

Louis at the forefront of geospatial

technology, along with a number

of community partners, including

Saint Louis University and T-REX.

Farther west, Build-A-Bear Workshop

founder Maxine Clark and Clayco’s CRG

Real Estate Services plan to transform

the former St. Luke’s Hospital in the

West End neighborhood into the Delmar

DivINe, providing a hub for nonprofit

and community organizations, as well

as housing and retail. And in Florissant,

Siteman Cancer Center recently opened

a $26.3 million facility at Christian Hospital’s

Northwest HealthCare campus,

with a healing garden and paintings by

local artists.

HANGOUTS

After enjoying an old-fashioned shake

and BLT at Crown Candy Kitchen in Old

North, stroll through the historic 14th

Street pedestrian mall, revived as Crown

Square, where letterpress nonprofit

Central Print has a studio. In Ferguson,

you can grab a bite at Cathy’s Kitchen,

enjoy a cigar at Montrey’s, or sip a glass

of wine at Cork Wine Bar. Then there’s

the popular Ferguson Farmers’ Market

and EarthDance Farms, which hosts yoga

in a former greenhouse—a picturesque

setting to unwind and relax.

28 Photography by Kevin A. Roberts, Michael Thomas; courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis


29


STLife // Talk of the Town

Inner-Ring Suburbs

CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP: THE

BAR AT THE

BENEVOLENT

KING IN MAPLE-

WOOD SERVES

UP CLASSIC

AND CREATIVE

COCKTAILS.

LONGTIME

FAMILY

FAVORITE

FITZ’S OPENED

A SECOND

LOCATION IN

SOUTH COUNTY

IN 2019.

WHAT’S NEW

Webster Groves has recently seen

a number of acclaimed restaurants

open along Lockwood Avenue, including

Balkan Treat Box, The Frisco Barroom,

Half & Half, Olive + Oak, and

The Clover and The Bee. And more is

in store, with plans for a new brewery

inside the former Auto Beauty Specialists

space. And The Crossings at

Richmond Heights provides new fastcasual

options: Blaze Pizza, Red Robin,

Firehouse Subs, and Vitality Bowls.

ON THE HORIZON

On the former site of Shriners Hospital,

Frontenac Commons will offer dining,

a gym, and office space. Slated to open

later this year, Kirkwood’s Performing

Arts Center will host local theater

groups. In Fenton, US Capital Development

has reimagined the 295-acre

former Chrysler plant site as Fenton

Logistics Park. And Mercy Hospital

South’s $54 million David M. Sindelar

Cancer Center will soon offer advanced

treatments and a new breast care center.

HANGOUTS

From breweries (Schlafly Bottleworks,

Side Project) to buzzy restaurants (Elmwood,

Benevolent King), downtown

Maplewood is a dining destination. Creve

Coeur’s also seen a surge of restaurants,

including Nudo House and Cobalt Smoke

& Sea. And in South County, family favorite

Fitz’s recently expanded with a second

location near Grant’s Farm.

30 Photography by Kevin A. Roberts


31


STLife // Talk of the Town

Clayton, U. City & the Loop

CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP LEFT:

WASHINGTON

UNIVERSITY’S

DANFORTH

CAMPUS. THE

ROAST CHICKEN

AT LOUIE IN

DEMUN. THE

ROOFTOP TER-

RACE BAR AT

THE MOON-

RISE HOTEL,

LOCATED

ALONG THE

DELMAR LOOP.

WHAT’S NEW

Downtown Clayton’s seen a rise in

luxury living options, including The

Barton, Two Twelve Clayton, and

Ceylon. And Centene continues to

grow, with a $770 million campus

expansion, including a 27-story

office building, as well as plans for

a civic center, residential, and more.

Along the Delmar Loop, there are

new living options at The Lofts

of Washington University (where

United Provisions is on the ground

fl or) and Everly on the Loop, with

Delmar Hall next door.

ON THE HORIZON

Washington University’s renovated

Danforth Campus offers the recently

reopened Mildred Lane Kemper Art

Museum. New developments also continue

to evolve nearby. Just east of Ceylon

in Clayton, developer HBE Corporation is

planning a $270 million mixed-use project,

including luxury condos and a hotel.

Along the Delmar Loop, Pace Properties

is adding The Link in the Loop, a mixeduse

development at the northwest corner

of Skinker and Delmar. And developer Joe

Edwards plans to open Magic Mini Golf in

a former church building nearby.

HANGOUTS

On charming Wydown Boulevard in Clayton,

chef Bernie Lee recently opened

Akar, a cozy 12-seat restaurant that

serves “simply the foods I like to eat,”

as Lee puts it. Nearby, restaurateur Zoë

Robinson offer sleek, sophisticated dining

options at Bar Les Freres, I Fratellini,

and Billie-Jean. In DeMun, Louie offers an

inviting atmosphere and modern American

cuisine. (Hip-hop star Drake was such

a fan, he dined there three consecutive

nights while in town.)

32 Photography by Kevin A. Roberts, James Ewing


33


STLife // Talk of the Town

Outer-Ring Suburbs

WHAT’S NEW

Last September, the Blues’ new

practice facility, Centene Community

Ice Center, opened in

Maryland Heights. Situated near

a sprawling youth soccer destination,

the 277,000-square-foot

center also hosts athletes of all skill levels

and includes a covered outdoor rink

for the public. In Chesterfield, shoppers

have no shortage of options at St. Louis

Premium Outlets, where they can fin

such stores as Coach, Saks Fifth Avenue

OFF 5th, Vera Bradley, and more.

ON THE HORIZON

Beside the bustling Topgolf in Chesterfield,

The Staenberg Group has big

plans for the Taubman Outlet Mall site.

Plans call for a sprawling entertainment,

food, and live music destination called

The District. Residential options are

also expanding in Chesterfield, with

the forthcoming 223-acre Fienup Farms

planned community.

HANGOUTS

Annie Gunn’s and Paul Manno’s are

essential Chesterfield gathering

spots. In Maryland Heights, Westport

Plaza offers plenty of dining and

entertainment options, including the

popular Westport Social. Looking to

burn off those calories? Green space

stretches to the west, with an abundance

of trails and parks near Wildwood

and Ballwin.

CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP

LEFT: A SCENIC

OUTLOOK AT

CASTLEWOOD

STATE PARK.

TOPGOLF IN

CHESTERFIELD

IS A FAVORITE

FOR GOLF FANS

OF ALL AGES.

A DISH FROM

LONGTIME

CHESTERFIELD

FAVORITE

ANNIE GUNN’S.

THE NEW

CENTENE

COMMUNITY

ICE CENTER

IN MARYLAND

HEIGHTS.

34 Photography by Dru Wallace, Kevin A. Roberts, courtesy of Topgolf, Centene Community Ice Center


Metro East

CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP: THE

LOADING DOCK

IN GRAFTON.

ART ON THE

SQUARE IN

BELLEVILLE IS

RANKED AMONG

THE NATION’S

TOP ART FAIRS.

WORLD WIDE

TECHNOLOGY

RACEWAY AT

GATEWAY.

WHAT’S NEW

Former racecar driver/developer Curtis

Francois has dramatically revived the

recently renamed World Wide Technology

Raceway at Gateway, with IndyCar

and NASCAR returning to the track. And

even larger plans are in store, including

STEAM, technology, and diversity initiatives.

World Wide’s also expanded its

footprint in Edwardsville with a $115 million

project spanning 2 million square

feet of industrial space at Gateway Commerce

Center. The intersection of I-64

and Greenmount Road has seen a flur y

of activity in recent years, including the

improved O’Fallon Family Sports Park

(boasting soccer fields, baseball fields, a

splash pad, and more), The Blade office

tower (housing 1818 Chophouse), and

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, which

recently opened a physical therapy center

just 10 minutes east, adjacent to the

McKendree Metro Rec Plex.

ON THE HORIZON

O’Fallon and Shiloh continue to evolve

near Scott Air Force Base. A $38 million

Siteman Cancer Center location

will open at Memorial Hospital East

later this year. And in Edwardsville,

near Southern Illinois University, the

$50 million Trace on the Parkway

mixed-use development is slated to

include luxury apartments, restaurants,

and retail.

HANGOUTS

On weekends, drive the scenic River

Road to Grafton, near the confluen e

of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers,

where you can go hiking at nearby Pere

Marquette State Park and then relax on

the deck and watch the boats go by at

The Loading Dock. In Belleville, Art on

the Square, May 15–17, has been hailed

as the No. 1 art fair in the nation by Art

Fair Source Book.

Photography by Kevin A. Roberts, courtesy of Art on the Square

35


STLife // Talk of the Town

St. Charles County

CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP

LEFT: CLIMB

SO ILL PLANS

TO OPEN A NEW

LOCATION IN

ST. CHARLES’

STEEL SHOP.

CHANDLER

HILL VINE-

YARDS NEAR

DEFIANCE.

NARWHAL’S

CRAFTED IS

AMONG THE

NEW OFFER-

INGS AT THE

STREETS OF

ST. CHARLES.

WHAT’S NEW

Just south of I-70, Streets of St. Charles

continues to roll out new options after

recently adding a 60,000-square-foot,

three-story mixed-use building. Among

the latest additions: YogaSix and Narwhal’s

Crafted, which add to the mix of

retail (Leopard Boutique, Cherry Blow

Dry Bar, MOD on Trend), restaurants

(Prasino, Dewey’s, Mission Taco Joint),

and entertainment (Play Street Museum,

AMC Theatres).

ON THE HORIZON

Shortly after the River City Rascals

announced they’d be hanging up their

cleats for the last time in 2019, the Prospect

League announced the Hannibal

Hoots would be relocating to CarShield

Stadium in O’Fallon, Missouri. While the

team’s new name was yet to be determined,

the franchise promises to continue

offering affo dable, family-friendly

entertainment. And near the Foundry

Art Centre in St. Charles, Climb So iLL

rock-climbing gym plans to open a new

location in the Steel Shop.

HANGOUTS

Situated on a quaint plot of land near

Cottleville, Stone Soup Cottage is among

the most sought-after restaurant reservations

in town. Augusta and Defian e

also offer respite, with picturesque wineries

and a scenic stretch of the Katy

Trail near the Missouri River.

36 Photography by Kevin A. Roberts, courtesy of Climb So iLL, Chandler Hill Vineyards


37


STLife || Talk of the Town

38


© 2020 St. Louis Children’s Hospital. All rights reserved. © 2019 NHL. All rights reserved.

39


STLife

Taking

Care of

Business

FROM GEOSPATIAL TO

AG-TECH, ST. LOUIS’

BUSINESS SCENE IS

BOOMING.

By Jen Roberts

40


Photography by Matt Marcinkowski

WORLD WIDE

TECHNOLOGY’S

STATE-OF-THE-ART

HEADQUARTERS

IN MARYLAND

HEIGHTS

41


STLife // Taking Care of Business

AT THE DONALD

DANFORTH

PLANT SCI-

ENCE CENTER,

RESEARCHER

MALIA GEHAN

AND HER TEAM

STUDY HOW

PLANTS CAN

BE MORE

RESILIENT.

B

usiness is booming in St. Louis.

Even national publications are

taking notice. Seek Business Capital

recently ranked St. Louis as a top city

for women entrepreneurs. Business

Insider credits the startup scene as one

of the fastest-growing in the country.

The Penny Hoarder and Redfin named

St. Louis as the top city for millennials

and the most affo dable, and the

Council for Community and Economic

Research credits St. Louis as having one

of the lowest costs of living among the

nation’s 20 largest metro areas.

Today, St. Louis is home to nine

Fortune 500 companies. Last year,

Edward Jones, Enterprise Holdings,

and Emerson—all of which give back to

the community, like so many other St.

Louis companies—landed on Forbes’

list of Best Employers for Women. And

Bunge and Bayer are expanding their

footprints here.

The city also has been long recognized

as a leader in plant sciences, with more

than 1,000 plant science Ph.D.s, the largest

concentration in the world. And with

construction underway on the 97-acre

Next NGA West campus in North St.

Louis, the city is expected to become a

leader in geospatial technology.

At the same time, the Cortex Innovation

District, T-REX, and 39 North are

creating programs and initiatives to fuel

technology and innovation.

But all of this growth didn’t happen

overnight.

START ME UP

In the early 2000s, the 200 acres where

the Cortex Innovation District is now

located, between Washington University’s

medical campus and Saint Louis

University was largely desolate. “It was

a tired, industrial area with vacant lots,”

says Cortex president and CEO Dennis

Lower. “It was really the hole in a donut

of fairly decent infrastructure.”

So a group of civic leaders gathered to

create a road map. Their goal: to develop

an innovation district that would bring

high-paying tech jobs to the city, generate

new tax revenue, and become the

most inclusive innovation district in the

country. “This has been a very intentional

effort,” Lower says. “We have

been growing this now for almost two

decades, and now we are getting to the

place where we are getting traction.”

By 2018, a study showed that Cortex

companies and employees generated a

direct impact of $1 billion. When looking

at the indirect impact, that number

jumped to more than $2 billion. Today,

there are approximately 6,000 employees

in the district, and that number’s

expected to more than double next year.

At inception, there were 2 million square

feet of office space; in 2020, 1.2 million

42 Photography courtesy of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center


square feet will be added. The new construction

will provide a hotel, a 244-unit

residential building, and three parking

garages. The goal is to move to a 24/7

environment. “We want people to come

early and stay late,” says Lower.

A research building in conjunction

with Washington University School of

Medicine will provide a designated location

for neuroscience labs. “Neuroscience

research is one of the strongest

departments in the School of Medicine,”

explains Lower, “and we’re looking to

leverage that with commercial tenants

who want to be close to that research.”

FORGING PARTNERSHIPS

Washington University Chancellor

Andrew D. Martin moved away from St.

Louis fi e years ago. When he returned,

in 2018, he noticed a palpable change.

“The energy around entrepreneurship,

innovation, and the tech community

changed remarkably,” he says.

It’s this energy that’s fueling growth

across the region.

Perhaps it’s St. Louis’ manageable

size or neighborly demeanor, but one

reason the business community is

thriving is because the institutions

are invested in each other. There’s a

shared understanding that businesses

are stronger if they work together.

“One of our unique strengths

are the partnerships between our

public and private institutions,”

says Martin. “The business community,

the higher-ed community,

and other leading nonprofits and

government all work together to

focus on growth in the region.”

These partnerships can be

found all across town.

Ann Marr, vice president of

global human resources at World

Wide Technology, says the company

looks much diffe ent from

when she first started. Twentytwo

years ago, she recalls, the company

had about 130 employees and $120 million

in revenue. It’s since grown to more

than 6,000 employees spread across

11 global locations. Marr credits this

growth to the constant evolution of

technology and innovation, as well as the

thriving tech community here. “We have

branded ourselves the Silicon Valley in

St. Louis,” she says. “A lot of startups

started here: [the founders of] Square

and Twitter.”

Growth requires more than space. It

requires programming and an environment

where people feel supported. So

Cortex opened Venture Café in 2014 as

a way to connect innovators. Downtown,

T-REX provides a technology incubator

THERE’S A SHARED UNDERSTANDING

THAT BUSINESSES ARE STRONGER

IF THEY WORK TOGETHER.

TOP: CORTEX

IS CENTRALLY

LOCATED, WITH

ACCESS TO

PUBLIC TRANS-

PORTATION.

LEFT: THE 600-

ACRE 39 NORTH

DISTRICT WILL

BE GEARED

TOWARD

SCIENCE PRO-

FESSIONALS’

LIFESTYLES,

WITH RETAIL,

RESIDENTIAL,

AND OFFICE

SPACE, CON-

NECTED BY

TRAILS AND

GREEN SPACE.

and an entrepreneur resource center, as

well as a co-working space. And 39 North

is bringing together ag-tech researchers

and innovators across the region.

But all of this work doesn’t happen

in a bubble. Executives at World Wide

have led sessions to help newly established

startups. The company also offer

a STEM Student Forum for area high

school students, with the winning project

receiving a grant. “It’s so much fun

just to see the creative ideas and the passion

for technology,” says Marr.

There are many instances in which

genome technology and information

technology work together.

“We are not just one technology sector,”

says Lower. “We believe that innovation

happens a lot of time where the

tech sectors overlap.”

These partnerships extend to universities.

The Donald Danforth Plant Science

Center, for instance, works with Washington

University, SLU, and the University

of Missouri.

“When you look at the quality of the

universities in the region, it’s a vitally

important resource,” says Sam Fiorello,

chief operating officer at the Donald Danforth

Plant Science Center and president

of the center’s affilia d Bio Research &

Development Growth Park (BRDG Park).

“We have to continue working with these

partners to figu e out ways to help leverage

them even more.”

MAPPING GROWTH

In 2016, the National Geospatial-Intelligence

Agency announced it would build

its new western headquarters in North

St. Louis. “The NGA project is more than

a new federal facility,” said Mayor Lyda

Photography by Kevin A. Roberts, courtesy of St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

43


STLife // Taking Care of Business

A STUDY SHOWED THAT CORTEX COMPANIES

AND EMPLOYEES GENERATED A DIRECT

IMPACT OF $1 BILLION. WHEN LOOKING

AT THE INDIRECT IMPACT, THAT NUMBER

JUMPED TO MORE THAN $2 BILLION.

THE CORTEX IN-

NOVATION COM-

MUNITY IN THE

CENTRAL WEST

END IS ONE

REASON THAT

NATIONAL

OUTLETS HAVE

RECOGNIZED

ST. LOUIS AS

ONE OF THE

FASTEST-GROW-

ING STARTUP

SCENES IN THE

NATION.

44


Krewson. “It is the opportunity to transform the neighborhoods

around the site with businesses, housing development,

and opportunities for residents.”

The $1.75 billion headquarters is projected to employ 3,100

employees and help position St. Louis area as a global geospatial

leader. Organizations are currently looking for ways

to leverage that investment. Taking a collaborative approach

similar to Cortex, a new initiative called GeoFutures aims to

create a framework in which to drive investment in location

intelligence technology. The advisory committee, composed

of nearly 30 businesses and academic leaders, meets monthly.

It’s “an opportunity that our area is leveraging for inclusive economic

development that will be sustainable over the long run,”

says T-REX president and executive director Patricia Hagen.

The downtown tech incubator’s entire fourth fl or is being

redesigned as Geosaurus, a resource for encouraging innovation

and entrepreneurship in the geospatial sector.

“We are focusing on geospatial, because we have a lot of great

partners in the field and we believe St. Louis can really stand

out as a leader in geospatial expertise and innovation,” says

Hagen, “so much so that we want to be the international hub

for innovation and entrepreneurship in the geospatial world.”

Photography by Kevin A. Roberts

45


STLife // Taking Care of Business

LEFT: LIKE

MANY OF HIS

COLLEAGUES,

EDWARD

JONES GEN-

ERAL COUNSEL

CHRISTOPHER

LEWIS GIVES

BACK TO THE

COMMUNITY,

SERVING AS

THE BOARD

CHAIR OF BIG

BROTHERS

BIG SISTERS

OF EASTERN

MISSOURI, AS

WELL AS ON

THE BOARDS OF

THE ST. LOUIS

CHILDREN’S

HOSPITAL

FOUNDATION

AND MISSOURI

BOTANICAL

GARDEN.

ABOVE: IN

COLLABORA-

TION WITH

RESEARCHERS

IN UGANDA AND

KENYA, SCIEN-

TIST NIGEL TAY-

LOR AND HIS

COLLEAGUES

AT THE DONALD

DANFORTH

PLANT SCIENCE

CENTER ARE

WORKING TO

DEVELOP

VIRUS-RESIS-

TANT CASSAVA.

46 Photography by Wesley Law


At the same time, the St. Louis metro

area continues to grow as a global agtech

leader. At the heart of the ag and

food innovation ecosystem is the Donald

Danforth Plant Science Center, the largest

independent plant science research

institution in the world, with state-ofthe-art

specialized facilities, including

research-grade greenhouses and wet lab

space. The center’s reputation attracts

researchers from around the globe—currently,

there are 320 full-time employees

from 24 countries.

“Talent is the real currency,” says Fiorello.

“It’s relatively easy to get capital and

access to great science, but you have to

find and recruit the talent and then get

folks to stay here.”

Every year, the Danforth Plant Science

Center hosts an investor conference that

brings together businesses, venture capitalists,

and other funders. For many of the

companies in the nearby Helix Center, this

conference was their first time in St. Louis.

But that’s just the beginning. Leaders at

the Danforth Plant Science Center, Helix

Center, BRDG Park, Bayer, the St. Louis

Economic Development Partnership, and

more are partnering on a 600-acre space

called 39 North. The district will be geared

toward science professionals’ lifestyles,

with mixed retail, residential, and office

space connected by trails and green space.

“Having 39 North and what Cortex is

doing with the live-work-play is critical,”

says Fiorello.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

St. Louis affords a number of

advantages over Silicon Valley and

New York. “Not all great technology

happens on the East and West

Coast,” says Marr. “You can access

things easily, and the cost of living

is better.”

Hagen concurs. “It’s becoming

more and more expensive to be an

entrepreneur and an innovator on

the West and East Coasts, so the

cost diffe ential here is significant

You can get office space downtown

for around $18 per square foot.

There is no way you could replicate

that on the East or West Coast.”

Then there’s the variety in highquality

housing stock. “You can

live in an urban neighborhood

or on a farm and still work in the

city,” says Martin. “That diversity is

something that the places we compete

against don’t offe .”

St. Louis is also a comfortable place

to live, work, and raise a family. One feature

has to do with its size. “We’re not

too big or too small,” says Martin. The

metro region’s large enough to make a

significant impact but small enough that

companies can benefit from partnerships

and relationships with other institutions.

There’s also something to be said for

Midwestern friendliness. “It’s the people,”

says Hagen. “It’s just wonderful to

have a community of support here.”

“At the end of the day, it all comes

down to people,” Martin agrees. “People

are going to do their very best work

in places which are livable.”

Newly revitalized neighborhoods are

also attracting more professionals to

the city. “Talent doesn’t want to come

and live in the middle of nowhere,” says

Jason Archer, vice president of business

development and workforce innovation

at the St. Louis Economic Development

Partnership. “They want restaurants.

They want vibrancy. They want energy.”

St. Louis has long been known for its

family-friendly draws, including affo d-

able cultural attractions; the recently

renovated Arch and Kiener Plaza, as well

as the St. Louis Aquarium, are adding to

those options. The restaurant scene’s

also evolved, with such nationally recognized

restaurants as Vicia, Balkan Treat

Box, and Cinder House. Such neighborhoods

as the Central West End, Midtown,

Tower Grove, Shaw, and Botanical

Heights are some of the “hottest real

estate markets in the entire region,”

says Lower.

As Marr observes, the city is “trying

to constantly reinvent itself to make

sure it can attract and retain talent but

also provide these things for people who

already live here.”

BUILDING COMMUNITY

There is a true sense of community in St.

Louis, and with that, a commitment to

making sure everyone in the community

has access to opportunities. “If we don’t

have inclusion, then I think we’ve failed,”

says Fiorello. “It’s on us to continue to look

for ways to increase our partnerships.”

For example, the Danforth Center

partners with St. Louis Community College

to offer a technician training program.

“It’s turned out to be one of the

great amenities that we offer to recruit

and build companies,” says Fiorello.

World Wide Technology also has several

initiatives to ensure that the company

has a diverse talent pool.

A new online resource, STL.works,

connects skilled job seekers with quality

jobs. Spearheaded by the Regional

Business Council and St. Louis Civic

Pride Foundation, the initiative focuses

on health care, manufacturing, tech, and

the trades.

The St. Louis Mosaic Project, a regional

initiative through the St. Louis Economic

Development Partnership and World

Trade Center, works to support regional

prosperity through immigration and innovation.

“We want to become the most

welcoming community for foreign-born

residents who want to come here and

grow,” says Archer. “We have to try to give

everyone an opportunity to advance and

be part of the fabric of our community.”

“It’s an exciting time for economic

development in the St. Louis region,”

says St. Louis Economic Development

Partnership CEO Rodney Crim. “We

are proud to work together with our

economic development partners, each

playing a key role on the team, to facilitate

business growth in our region.

Working together, we are seeing some

big wins.”

Photography courtesy of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

47


STLife

48


They’re

Made in

St. Louis

A S T H E S E

STORIES SHOW,

OUR REGION IS

A GREAT PLACE

TO START UP,

S T A N D O U T ,

AND STAY.

Photography by R.J. Hartbeck, Michael Thomas

49


STLife // Made in St. Louis

Game On

WITH DOZENS OF STUDIOS, COURSES, AND EVENTS, ST. LOUIS IS

BECOMING THE NATION’S NEXT VIDEO GAME DEVELOPMENT HOT SPOT.

By Daniel Durchholz

50


M

att Raithel was a gamer, right

from the jump. “When I was 6,

Nintendo was this on-fi e, crazy toy of

the year. When I got it—and this was the

1980s—you didn’t just plug it in. You had

to practically take apart your television

set,” he recalls. “Once it final y got connected

and I flipped the thing on, it was

like…intoxication. I played for maybe six

hours that day.

“I remember telling my friends when

they came over that this is what I was

going to do when I grew up.”

Unlike so many other children’s early

career fantasies, Raithel’s dream actually

came true. Today, he’s the owner

and studio director of Maryland

Heights-based Graphite Lab, which

creates in-house and branded games

(including Transformers, My Little

Pony, and Ben 10) for all platforms.

Its original flagship game Hive Jump,

a retro-inspired game with Metroid

fl vor, recently became available on

Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.

Graphite Lab joins peer companies

Pixel Press, Volcano Bean, Terrifying

Jellyfish, and other creators in turning

St. Louis into a burgeoning hub of game

development and innovation.

The region’s video game revolution

has been a long time coming, with many

St. Louis development shops emerging

from forays in programming, art, or

other industries. Some developers have

spent the past decade or more pursuing

gaming ideas as side projects or hobbies,

while others set out immediately to engineer

the games they’d always wanted.

No matter how they got their start, the

dozens of local game startups and community

contributors today are positioning

St. Louis as one of the country’s new

centers for the industry.

It’s something that still takes people

by surprise.

“When you’re talking about startups,

it’s common that everyone defaults

to California,” says Robin Rath, CEO

and co-founder of Pixel Press, which is

housed downtown. “It’s funny when we

hear kids say, ‘Hey, do you live in San

Francisco?’ and I say, ‘No, I’m in St. Louis,

10 miles from your school.’”

A RESOURCEFUL COMMUNITY

In the past, St. Louis might have seemed

like an odd choice for game development;

many tech companies had been concentrated

on the coasts because the proximity

to talent, high-dollar funding, and big

brands was imperative. But now, thanks

to the internet and social media, developers

can collaborate with each other

and communicate with their customers

from right here in the Midwest, giving

indie game makers a rich opportunity to

build a fan base over time. Moreover, St.

THE REGION’S VIDEO GAME REVOLUTION

HAS BEEN A LONG TIME COMING.

OPPOSITE

PAGE: TJ

HUGHES,

FOUNDER OF

TERRIFYING

JELLYFISH.

LEFT: ROBIN

RATH, CEO AND

CO-FOUNDER

OF PIXEL PRESS.

Louis’ comparatively low cost of living,

growing number of investors, and innovation

communities make it easier to put

more capital and energy into development

rather than into location.

“From a startup perspective, whether

it be access to capital, mentorship, legal

[support]—all those things are here,”

Rath says.

In St. Louis, that access isn’t limited

solely to established companies. The

local game development community is

a sprawling ecosystem that welcomes

creators of all levels through meetups,

hackathons, showcases, game dev

camps, and more.

“I think St Louis is a really special

place for making games because it’s

such a diverse crowd of people making

them. There’s everything from hobbyists

to larger scale companies, but

they’re all making something different

and they all do it in a diffe ent way,”

says Mary McKenzie, managing partner

of the Metro East studio Volcano Bean,

which produces mobile games Where’s My

Goblin?, Sleepy Kraken, and BattleCakes.

McKenzie also is a co-organizer of

PixelPop Festival, an annual independent

game conference and expo that

is, as McKenzie puts it, “an event that

could show off the amazing things that

are being made in St. Louis.” With dozens

of game creators and industry

experts on hand, PixelPop has become

an event that provides indie developers

with both a professional network and a

support system.

“Most of the big game events are

happening on the coasts but there is a

lack of that in the Midwest, so people

don’t often realize that there’s a path

for them here because it’s not nearly as

visible,” McKenzie says. “That’s what

we’re trying to do, is create more visibility

and let people know that this

stuff is he e.”

Some of the games exhibited at PixelPop

may get their start during the St. Louis

Global Game Jam, an event in which gamers

and prospective developers gather

in person and online to design and build

a game within 48 hours. The event, held

annually at the University of Missouri–St.

Louis, typically ranks among the top three

largest in the nation and top 10 largest in

the world.

Photography by R.J. Hartbeck

51


STLife // Made in St. Louis

GAMING IS CONSIDERED A

HIGH-GROWTH INDUSTRY, AND

LOCAL EXPERTS ARE EQUIPPING

STUDENTS AND ENTHUSIASTS OF

ALL AGES FOR THAT FUTURE.

The Game Jam is championed by

the St. Louis Game Developer Co-Op,

an essential resource for deepening

industry knowledge and expanding

professional networks. With meetups,

workshops, and affinity groups, the

Co-Op gives St. Louis developers plenty

of opportunities to interact.

“They’re just super-great for findin

people,” says TJ Hughes, an independent,

self-taught game developer and

3-D artist who creates games as Terrifying

Jellyfish. “No matter what you

need—music, programming, someone

who makes really weird, specific art—

[the Co-Op] is probably the place where

you can find that ”

Hughes cites familiar hotspots of

creativity like the Cortex Innovation

Community and its Venture Café as local

places buzzing with new ideas and innovation,

but he also says he finds inspiration

in the city’s underground art scene,

especially in the Cherokee Street area.

That influen e can be seen in the Terryifying

Jellyfish game Nour, in which users

play with food in unconventional ways.

Pancakes, sprinkles, boba balls, and sushi

rain from the sky and bounce around in a

3-D environment, serving up the opportunity

to toy with texture and composition.

In this game, there’s no end goal or boss

level—it’s just fun for fun’s sake.

“It’s not about having an objective; it’s

not about doing something right or highstakes

things,” Hughes insists. “It’s more

about relaxing and really taking in the

stimulus just at base level.”

Other St. Louis video games get physical

in real life. Bloxels, from Rath’s Pixel

Press, uses a board with plastic pegs

to map out game levels and characters

before animating them through a

mobile app. Players then can continue

to customize their games and share

them with others.

Thanks to a partnership with Mattel,

Pixel Press has bolstered the manufacturing

and distribution of Bloxels in the

retail world, while a partnership with Disney

recently led to the creation of a Star

Wars version of the product.

“I was definite y a Star Wars kid,” Rath

says. “There’s something about the lore

and the storytelling—just everything

about it was something that was part of

our childhood and what our company is.”

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

Enticing the next generation of

local developers and gamers is

something that many St. Louis

studios are working on. Gaming

is considered a high-growth industry,

and local experts are equipping

students and enthusiasts of

all ages for that future.

As a game development professor

at Maryville University, Raithel

is seeing enthusiasm for the industry

mount.

“Even with a young program,

I’ve seen students really leapfrog

into some really incredible success.

Usually that’s because of

their own motivation and excitement

to try something new,” he

says. “A year ago, I asked them

to pursue an interest in VR (virtual

reality)—just threw that out

there to see how they’d tackle it.

What they came back with was

52


CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP

LEFT: VOLCANO

BEAN’S MARY

MCKENZIE,

GRAPHITE LAB’S

MATT RAITHEL,

TERRIFYING

JELLYFISH’S TJ

HUGHES, AND

PIXEL PRESS’

ROBIN RATH.

PIXEL PRESS

BLOXELS USE

A BOARD WITH

PLASTIC PEGS

TO MAP OUT

GAME LEVELS

AND CHARAC-

TERS BEFORE

ANIMATING

THEM THROUGH

A MOBILE

APP. A GAME

DEVELOPER

TAKES AN IDEA

FROM CONCEPT

TO SKETCH TO

SCREEN.

telling platform that manifests itself as

video games,” Rath says.

Something these and other game

developers have learned—and are advocating—is

that there’s no single way to

break into the industry.

Volcano Bean’s games employ brandnew

characters and whimsical art, leaning

heavily into the diverse strengths of

its development team. McKenzie was

a costume designer and an illustrator

before she and her husband, Gene Kelly,

leapt into game development.

“Coming from a theater background,

I love crafting experiences,” she says.

“Creating games is a way to craft someone’s

entertainment.”

“I was just playing around, not even

trying to do something professionnot

just a working VR program but six

working VR games that were strung

together. That was a pretty mindblowing

moment for me.”

Pixel Press is looking to hook even

younger gamers. Early on, the company

discovered that Bloxels was being used

in elementary- and middle-school classrooms

to help students with skills like

critical thinking and storytelling, which

led Rath’s team to develop lesson plans

and activities for students. The company

then introduced a new classroomspecific

ersion called Bloxels EDU.

“It really focuses on ways for teachers

to not only use this in the classroom,

but also allow students to work

together collaboratively, to develop

contacts through this interactive storyally.

I was trying to have fun and stumbled

upon something that actually

ended up being a really valuable skill,”

Hughes adds.

Raithel thinks back to why he developed

a formal game design curriculum

for Maryville University in the first place.

“It really is to help answer a question

that my 6-year-old self had when I got

my first Nintendo, which was, ‘How do I

make games when I grow up?’

“There’s really no greater thrill than

seeing somebody play something that

you’ve created,” Raithel says. “Especially

if they tend to like it.”

Learn more about people who are

moving the St. Louis region forward

at theSTL.com.

Photography by R.J. Hartbeck

53


STLife // Made in St. Louis

Planting Seeds

ANGI TAYLOR FOUND MEANINGFUL WORK IN

ST. LOUIS’ GROWING AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY.

By Allison Babka

RIGHT: ANGI

TAYLOR AND

JONATHAN

SPRINKLE

EXAMINE

PLANTS IN A

GREENHOUSE

AT THE DONALD

DANFORTH

PLANT SCIENCE

CENTER IN

THE 39 NORTH

INNOVATION

DISTRICT.

OPPOSITE

PAGE: TAYLOR

WORKS IN THE

NEWLEAF SYM-

BIOTICS LAB.

I

never thought I would love it so much.”

People often equate the search for the perfect

job with a quest for the Holy Grail—something that’s

elusive or mythical. But not Angi Taylor. Her role as a

lab clerk at NewLeaf Symbiotics has unleashed ideas

and skills within her that had gone unappreciated in

previous positions.

So for her, the job search is over.

“It’s always a challenge. I’m always learning something

new,” Taylor says. “I didn’t realize that I could

maintain a robot. I didn’t realize that I was able to mix

up some ingredients that could be used to feed an

organism that’s then going to feed the world. I’m out

of my comfort zone, but I like it.”

54


Thousands of St. Louis residents are

finding similar satisfaction as they take

positions within the region’s growing

agricultural sciences sector. As a region

full of major industry players, startups of

every type, higher-education programming,

innovation incubators, research

labs, and thousands of farms, St. Louis

has gained a reputation as one of the

leading agriculture, plant science, and

bioscience centers in the nation and—

increasingly—the world. A recent case

study from Brookings Institution highlights

the area’s commitment to further

developing the industry and what it will

mean for the local economy.

THE OPPORTUNITIES

FOR WORK IN

THE VARIOUS

SPECIALTIES WITHIN

THE AGRICULTURE

INDUSTRY ARE

ENDLESS HERE

IN ST. LOUIS.

“The region’s leaders have continued

to make the case for considerable

investments in the cluster with a variety

of other arguments,” the report notes,

“namely, it is a key source of innovation,

offers highly paid jobs, is globally

competitive, is distinct as an economic

development focus, and promises to be a

future growth opportunity due to global

population growth.”

But for the industry to continue to

grow, St. Louis must develop talent at

every level—something St. Louis Community

College is doing in an innovative

way. The college’s Center for Plant

and Life Sciences moved to the Bio

Research & Development Growth Park

(BRDG Park) on the campus of the Donald

Danforth Plant Science Center in

2008 to collaborate with the industry’s

emerging ecosystem of scientists and

startups and to train students in lab and

equipment skills. Since then, students

with STLCC’s life science lab assistant

or biotechnology certificates have been

able to land high-paying jobs with local

companies almost immediately after

completing coursework.

That’s the route that Taylor took,

though she made a few stops first. With

a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and

a master’s degree in communications/

speech, Taylor was an administrative

assistant in the Center for Plant and Life

Sciences with a plan to eventually move

into nonprofit administration. But after

seeing students train in the sciences and

land gainful, interesting jobs at BRDG

Park, she decided to take classes herself.

“Growing up in inner-city St. Louis in

the Walnut Park area, I was always led to

believe that someone like me was not a

scientist,” Taylor says. “I was fascinated.

I would go into the lab and think, ‘Oh,

wow, this is amazing, but I can’t do this.’

“But the lab manager invited me to

come in, put on a lab coat, and help her

work with something,” Taylor continues.

“As a result of that exposure, I later took

classes in life sciences at St. Louis Community

College.”

Along the way, Taylor became an outreach

specialist for the Center for Plant

and Life Sciences and interned with New-

Leaf Symbiotics before taking a permanent

position as a lab clerk. NewLeaf, a

rapidly growing startup at BRDG Park

in the 39 North innovation district, uses

naturally occurring organisms called

M-trophs to strengthen plants, increase

their nutritional uptake, and become

stronger, ultimately producing more yield

in a sustainable way. The company

is working with M-trophs to boost

soybeans, corn, peanuts, tomatoes,

lentils, and more.

As a lab clerk, Taylor prepares

media for the scientists who

are working with M-trophs and

ensures that the research lab

equipment is disinfected and

ready for use. She’s excited about

what NewLeaf ’s research could

mean for society.

“They are using biotechnology

to increase our food supply

in a natural way,” Taylor says.

“We have 8 billion people on the

planet, but we don’t have additional

farmable land, so we have

to do more with the limited amount of

land that we have.”

Taylor says that with collaborative

ecosystems and training programs such

as the ones that St. Louis Community

College offers, the opportunities for

work in the various specialties within

the agriculture industry are endless here

in St. Louis—especially for those who are

looking for a career switch or who had

not previously considered entering the

sciences.

“I was seeing students graduate with

a two-year certificate and gain employment

that had great benefits—jo s that

you could be proud of. And these were

people from various backgrounds,”

Taylor says. “I was not a traditional student.

At that time, I was in my mid-40s

and taking classes all over again. But it

wasn’t as impossible as I thought.”

As the industry continues to grow in

St. Louis, even more trained specialists

at all levels will be needed to staff both

startups and established companies.

It’s a challenge, but it’s one that Taylor

thinks the region is ready for.

“St. Louis, right now, is in a prime position

for the new middle class. There are

so many opportunities available but not

enough students right now to fill those

needs that these companies have,” Taylor

says. “We need to do what it takes. Learn

something diffe ent. Yes, it takes effo t,

but this is where the future is going. This

amazing science is happening right here.”

Learn more about Taylor and others moving

St. Louis forward at theSTL.com.

Photography by R.J. Hartbeck

55


STLife // Made in St. Louis

The Business

of Basketball

KHALIA COLLIER HAS TRANSFORMED THE ST. LOUIS SURGE INTO

BOTH A COMPETITIVE TEAM AND AN ECONOMIC DRIVER.

By Allison Babka

RIGHT: “WE'VE

BUILT A

PROFESSIONAL

TEAM AND

MARKET THAT

THE CITY CAN

BE PROUD OF,”

SAYS KHALIA

COLLIER,

OWNER AND

GENERAL

MANAGER OF

THE ST. LOUIS

SURGE.

OPPOSITE

PAGE: HEAD

COACH DUEZ

HENDERSON

VISITS WITH

PLAYERS.

56


A

s the owner and general manager

of the St. Louis Surge,

Khalia Collier has watched her basketball

team find its footing in a city that

tends to focus on baseball and hockey.

When she took over the Surge in 2011 —

becoming one of the youngest owners

in the country at age 23—many people

insisted that she wouldn’t be able to

entice St. Louisans to support basketball,

let alone watch women play it.

But the Surge frequently draws

thousands to the Washington University

Field House and has plenty of

undefeated regular seasons. With two

national championships and multiple

regional titles, the team celebrated its

100th game during the home opener of

the 2019 season—quite a milestone in

St. Louis, a city that hadn’t seen professional

basketball in years.

Coming out on top after being underestimated

means everything to Collier

and these athletes.

“Everyone anticipated that we would

fold. But we’ve set a foundation, and

now it’s time to keep building. I knew

that instead of everyone always focusing

on bleeding red or blue, we could

create another color in the mix. Now

Surge fans bleed green,” Collier says.

“We’ve built a professional team and

market that the city can be proud of,

that our community can get behind,

and that creates opportunities for the

women who are part of our program

and for the next generation that wants

to see how sports is built from a diffe -

ent perspective.”

For 2019, the Surge entered a new

league—the Global Women’s Basketball

Association, a competitive league

that aims to develop and propel postcollegiate

and post-amateur athletes

towards careers in the WNBA. Collier

says that this level of paid professionals

had been lacking in women’s basketball,

with talented players often

heading overseas for opportunities or

wrapping up their careers too soon. But

the GWBA, which began in 2016, offer

new challenges to the overabundance

of talent, enticing athletes to stay in

the United States and build supportive

networks as the league grows in

strategic markets.

A Surge player’s talent is important,

Collier says, but so is what they do off

the court. To boost an athlete’s postcareer

options and to strengthen the St.

Louis community, Collier requires athletes

to have a bachelor’s degree, and

many players end up pursuing master’s

degrees during and after their time on

the team. Collier, a St. Louis native,

also helps players connect with local

corporations and resources that offe

additional career choices as well as

meaningful volunteer opportunities.

“You have to be a part of the community.

You have to like kids. You have to

want to volunteer,” Collier insists. “And

that is the determining factor of getting

them to move here. When you have a

good network, you have resources and

you have people who have your best interests

at heart, you fall in love with the city.”

WE’VE SET A FOUNDATION, AND

NOW IT’S TIME TO KEEP BUILDING.

Photography by R.J. Hartbeck

57


STLife // Made in St. Louis

Selling St. Louis is important to Collier’s

recruitment process. Collier find

plenty of basketball talent throughout

the region, but she also recruits many athletes

from around the country to play and

live in the Gateway City. Many of those

women choose to stay in St. Louis after

their playing days are over instead of

returning to their home states, remaining

here to buy homes, find jobs and support

community initiatives.

“That’s what makes people stay—providing

opportunities and an environment

that fosters their success,” Collier

says. “They’re already talented at the

game of basketball. Instead of waiting

until one stops before the other, here’s

your career path at the same time.

“It’s refreshing to be so intentional

about uplifting other women and to

provide that kind of network and support.

It’s a win-win,” she continues. “The

more successful they are, the more successful

we are. You realize that the pie

just gets bigger and you can give out as

much as you want; the more you

give out, the more rewarding it’s

going to be for me in the long run

and the more success stories that

they have. They become their

own alumni network.”

Basketball is in Collier’s blood, having

grown up playing the sport with her

family before taking things to the college

level. After studying communications

and political science at Columbia

College and later at Missouri Baptist

University, Collier jumped straight into

the corporate world. But basketball was

never far from her mind, and she soon

became the Surge’s team manager. Discovering

a new desire to foster a team of

her own, Collier purchased the Surge in

2011, kicking off a new era for championship

women’s basketball in St. Louis.

“I had no idea what I was getting

myself into. I just knew that I would

give it everything that I had and I could

do it better than before and insert my

own ideas and creativity,” Collier says.

“I started researching every team that

came through the St. Louis market that

had been successful or that folded. I

wanted to know everything, not just

about the game of basketball, but the

business of sports in general. I felt like

I was built for this.”

As she considers the future for the

Surge and the GWBA, Collier can see

the payoff from her strategy and hard

work. She also notices other visionaries

making their mark in St. Louis and

providing opportunities that weren’t

there before.

“I’m seeing a lot of amazing things,

but they’re in pockets, and that’s what

has to change,” Collier says. “But now all

these diffe ent entrepreneurs are coming

in, and it becomes more reflective

58


W I T H T W O

NATIONAL

CHAMPIONSHIPS

AND MULTIPLE

REGIONAL TITLES,

THE TEAM

CELEBRATED

ITS 100TH GAME

DURING THE HOME

OPENER OF THE

2019 SEASON—

Q U I T E A

MILESTONE IN

ST. LOUIS, A

CITY THAT

HADN’T SEEN

PROFESSIONAL

BASKETBALL

IN YEARS.

of what the rest of our country looks

like, to include more people of color, to

include more opportunities for entrepreneurs

of all walks of life who want

the same opportunity.

“That’s where I am incredibly optimistic

for St. Louis, what keeps me here

and what keeps me doing the work that

we do—because I genuinely feel every

day like we’re changing not only St.

Louis, but we’re changing the world.

We’re creating transformative change,

and it’s refl ctive of our fan base. We

show what community looks like, and

that’s what I feel, myself.”

Learn more about Collier, the

St. Louis Surge, and others moving

St. Louis forward at theSTL.com.

CLOCKWISE

FROM OPPOSITE

PAGE: UNDER

COLLIER’S

WATCH, THE ST.

LOUIS SURGE

HAS WON TWO

NATIONAL

CHAMPION-

SHIPS AND

MULTIPLE

REGIONAL

TITLES. COL-

LIER IS ADA-

MANT ABOUT

SUPPORTING

WOMEN WITH

MEANINGFUL

OPPORTUNI-

TIES. “YOU

REALIZE THAT

THE PIE JUST

GETS BIGGER

AND YOU CAN

GIVE OUT AS

MUCH AS YOU

WANT,” SHE

SAYS.

Photography by R.J. Hartbeck

59


STLife // Made in St. Louis

Masters of Light

JUST AS THEIR GREAT-GREAT GRANDFATHER DID, AARON FREI AND HIS

SIBLINGS ARE COLORING ST. LOUIS WITH HAND-CRAFTED STAINED GLASS.

By Amy Burger

RIGHT: AS

PRESIDENT OF

EMIL FREI &

ASSOCIATES

STAINED GLASS

STUDIO, AARON

FREI WALKS IN

HIS CREATIVE

ANCESTORS’

FOOTSTEPS

EVERY DAY.

OPPOSITE

PAGE: “BEAUTY

SHOULD REACH

EVERYONE. IT

CAN REACH

ACROSS SPACE,

TIME, AND CUL-

TURE,” AARON

FREI SAYS.

60


FOR FIVE GENERATIONS, THE FREI

FAMILY HAS CREATED COLORFUL,

LIGHT-HARNESSING MASTERPIECES

FOR SOME OF THE MOST ICONIC

CHURCHES IN ST. LOUIS AND

AROUND THE WORLD.

S

ometimes art transcends beauty

to achieve something more spiritual

and everlasting.

Such is the case in the work of stained

glass artisans Emil Frei & Associates.

For fi e generations, the Frei family has

created colorful, light-harnessing masterpieces

for some of the most iconic

churches in St. Louis and around the

world, carefully marrying art with architecture

to become part of the history of

the city and its built environment.

Aaron Frei, the great-great grandson

of founder Emil Frei Sr. and the studio’s

current president, works alongside three

of his siblings and his father, Stephen

Frei; his grandfather Robert Frei worked

until his final days in 2016. Emil Frei Sr.

had founded the studio in South St. Louis

about 120 years ago, after moving to the

United States from Germany, and Robert

relocated the operation in the mid-

1960s to its current home on a wooded,

10-acre lot in Kirkwood’s scenic Sugar

Creek Valley.

Aaron Frei began working in the studio

at age 10, sweeping fl ors and waterproofing

windows, eventually embracing

the family business as his destiny.

“My earliest memory was coming out

here searching for turtles in the creek,

and as a byproduct, I was introduced to

the work itself,” he says. “I would go to

church dedications with my dad when

I was 5 or 6. Any time a new church was

formally dedicated, they would have a

big ceremony and invite my father as a

speaker. At that point, I recognized, ‘Hey,

this is something special.’”

As he immersed himself in the work,

he slowly realized that his father

was grooming him to take over the

business. Today, he couldn’t be

happier that things have come full-circle.

“I live on the property in the house

that my great-grandfather built, the

first house built on this lot,” Frei says.

“So not only do I have a touchstone with

the work that he does, I literally sleep

in the same room that he used to sleep

in and relax on the same patio where he

used to relax.”

Emil Frei & Associates has crafted

stained-glass windows for secular buildings

such as the Sheldon Concert Hall,

St. Louis County Library’s Lewis & Clark

Branch, and Gravois Bank, but the studio’s

primary focus continues to be theological

spaces. A standout local example

is St. Francis Xavier College Church near

Saint Louis University, featuring windows

designed by Emil Frei Jr. and inspired by

Chartres Cathedral in France.

Though it’s been more than 120 years

since Emil Frei Sr. founded the studio, the

process remains mostly the same today.

“My father likes to say that we are a

15th-century trade, and that is largely

true. Very little in our craft has actually

changed over the last 200 years,” says

Aaron Frei. “The handiwork, the craftsmanship—you

can’t do that by machine.

When we design, we don’t design on a

computer; everything is hand-drawn. If

you remove the hand from that process,

you’re, in a sense, removing the soul from

that process.”

Since Emil Frei & Associates is one of

only a small handful of firms across the

country specifical y dedicated to church

windows, they often must inform clients

and the architects themselves about the

unique needs of stained glass in a building.

“Stained glass has always been a handmaiden

of architecture. As the architecture

has developed, the stained glass has

too,” Frei explains. “What we do is control

and manipulate and play with light.

And that light and its impact on the interior

of a space has great metaphorical

meaning, especially in the sacred arts

and sacred architecture.”

It can take years to complete a project,

but once finish d, the impact is timeless

and immeasurable. Frei says he enjoys

creating something that will continue to

surprise and inspire people for decades.

“Beauty itself is a language, and a lot

of times, it’s just the hue of a stainedglass

window, the light that it casts on a

space—sometimes that’s all you need,”

he says.

While the bulk of the studio’s work is

created for churches, Frei notes that

his team receives feedback from many

people who don’t necessarily attend services,

but rather those who live in the

neighborhood or simply appreciate art

and architecture.

“I think it speaks to the value of what

we do,” he says. “Beauty should reach

everyone. It’s in that sense transcendental.

It can reach across space, time,

and culture.”

The family continues to be inspired

by the local landscape. “St. Louis offer

something that very few other cities do.

There’s a history here. Not only do we

have old buildings, they’re beautiful

old buildings,” says Frei. “Our family’s

here. We are proud St. Louisans. It’s just

a great place to live.”

Learn more about Aaron Frei, Emil Frei

& Associates, and others moving

St. Louis forward at theSTL.com.

Photography by R.J. Hartbeck

61


STLife // Made in St. Louis

Keys to the

Community

KAYIA BAKER AND PIANOS FOR PEOPLE ARE

CHANGING LIVES ONE NOTE AT A TIME.

By Deborah Johnson

RIGHT: “IT’S A

NEVER-ENDING

JOURNEY. WE

TOUCH SO

MANY LIVES.

IT’S A WORK OF

MISSION, BUT

IT’S ALSO A

WORK OF SERV-

ING THE COM-

MUNITY AND

I LIKE THAT,”

KAYIA BAKER

SAYS. OPPOSITE

PAGE: AS THE

PIANO SCHOOL

DIRECTOR AT

PIANOS FOR

PEOPLE, BAKER

HAS HELPED

HER MUSIC

STUDENTS

SEIZE NEW OP-

PORTUNITIES.

62


IT’S A WORK OF MISSION, BUT

IT’S ALSO A WORK OF SERVING

THE COMMUNITY.

W

hen you walk into the main classroom

at Pianos for People, you’re

greeted by a quote from the poet Henry

Wadsworth Longfellow: “Music is the

universal language of mankind.”

It’s a thought that suits the mission

of Pianos for People, an organization

that provides free pianos and music lessons

to families with limited resources.

It also fits Kayia Baker, who, as the organization’s

piano school director, wants

to change lives and build community

connections through music.

Pianos for People was founded in 2012,

opened a no-cost piano school on Cherokee

Street in 2014, and launched a satellite

studio in Ferguson in 2016. More

than 200 students are served between

the two locations.

“It’s a labor of love,” says Baker, who

joined the organization in 2014. “It’s a

work of mission, but it’s also a work of

serving the community, and I like that.”

Baker and her team of nine teachers

relish the opportunity to help many St.

Louis-area children imagine and change

their futures. The organization isn’t

just about teaching children how to

play music, Baker says, but also showing

what is possible through discipline

and hard work.

“Some kids are going to come here

and they’re going to pursue music and

they’re going to be really good at it,” she

adds. “Other kids are going to come here

for the experience, but it’s still helping to

shape and mold their lives and who they

are, exposing them to opportunities and

possibilities they may not have seen for

themselves otherwise.

“It’s about honoring and caring for

people,” she says. “Ultimately, it’s about

love, not just music.”

Learn more about Baker and others moving

St. Louis forward at theSTL.com.

Photography by Michael Thomas

63


STLife // Made in St. Louis

All That Jazz

LAUREN PARKS AND JAS GARY PEARSON HAVE TURNED THE CHILDHOOD

HOME OF MUSIC LEGEND MILES DAVIS INTO A COMMUNITY CATALYST.

By Daniel Durchholz

RIGHT: THE

FORMER HOME

OF JAZZ

LEGEND MILES

DAVIS “JUST

NEEDED A BIG

OLD HUG AND

SOME TLC”

FROM LAUREN

PARKS AND

JAS GARY

PEARSON TO

BECOME A NEW

MUSEUM AND

COMMUNITY

CENTER IN EAST

ST. LOUIS. OP-

POSITE PAGE:

THE HOME USES

DAVIS’ CAREER

TO INSPIRE STU-

DENTS IN THEIR

OWN ARTISTIC

PURSUITS.

IN ADDITION

TO BEING A

MUSEUM FOR

MANY OF DAVIS'

POSSESSIONS,

THE HOME OF-

FERS EVENTS,

MUSIC, ARTS,

NUTRITION,

AND HEALTH

PROGRAMMING.

64


J

museum to Davis and a community center

with multidimensional education programs

for children.

“What helped to make Miles, Miles?

This little town, East St. Louis, and his

family,” says Lauren A. Parks, HOME’s

president and co-founder. “We like to

share that with our students. It’s very

empowering for them when they hear

the stories.”

With backgrounds in education, Parks

and Jas Gary Pearson, HOME’s cofounder

and its vice president of urban

planning, are using Davis’ reputation as

an inventive renaissance man to encourage

students to tap into their own talents

through music and the arts.

None of this would be possible without

Parks and Pearson saving the home from

neglect. In 2010, Parks—whose family has

deep ties with Davis’—had heard that the

property was available. Vernon Davis was

the last family member to live there, and

over the years the house became shuttered,

had suffe ed a fi e, and ended up

in considerable disrepair.

With no one left to care for the property,

the remaining Davis family had

hoped to donate it to a nonprofit orgaazz

music plays softly

inside a small house at

North 17th Street and Kansas

Avenue in East St. Louis. The

tune— rich, intimate, and led by

the sound of a muted trumpet—fl ats

throughout the rooms, infusing the

house with the instantly identifiable work

of legendary musician Miles Davis. This is

where Davis spent much of his childhood

and learned to play the trumpet, after

all. Before Davis moved to New York City

and became a jazz giant, his talent and

temperament were shaped and nurtured

right here in East St. Louis.

Now the house is the locus of a new

mission—one that helps memorialize

Davis’ beginnings while jumpstarting

dreams for a new generation. It’s the

jazz master’s childhood home, but it is

also HOME, which stands for House of

Miles East St. Louis and serves as both a

THE GOAL IS TO BE

A CATALYST FOR

A NEIGHBORHOOD

RENAISSANCE AND

COMMUNITY PRIDE.

nization. Parks and Pearson, who had

been friends for decades, formed one

and took possession in 2011. The duo

began fundraising and organizing volunteers

to renovate the house, with support

coming from both the community

and local businesses.

But this is just phase one for the Davis

home and for the community, Parks and

Pearson say. They plan to add a deck and

performance space outside and develop

a multipurpose community building on

their additional property across the

street. Parks, who lives nearby, says the

goal is to be a catalyst for a neighborhood

renaissance and community pride.

She cites Davis, Olympian Jackie Joyner-

Kersee, and renowned dancer Katherine

Dunham as examples of the talented

people who have lived in East St. Louis,

and she wants those legends to inspire

students today.

“Don’t let people put you in a box.

Don’t let people define you,” Parks says.

“Miles was the epitome of that.”

Learn more about people who

are moving the St. Louis region forward

at theSTL.com.

Photography by Michael Thomas

65


STLife // Made in St. Louis

Innovation Destination

OPO STARTUPS FOUNDER RANDY SCHILLING BOOSTS MAIN STREET ST. CHARLES

BY CONNECTING LOCAL TECH, RETAIL, AND SERVICE COMMUNITIES.

By Allison Babka

RIGHT: RANDY

SCHILLING

(RIGHT)

REGULARLY

VISITS FRANKIE

TOCCO'S PIZ-

ZERIA OWNER

LEONARD TOC-

CO FOR LUNCH

AND IDEAS.

OPPOSITE

PAGE: WITH A

100-YEAR-OLD

FORMER POST

OFFICE SERVING

AS ITS CENTRAL

BUILDING, OPO

STARTUPS FITS

RIGHT IN WITH

THE REST OF

HISTORIC MAIN

STREET.

66


18th-century buildings on Main Street

and in other areas of St. Charles since

at least the 1990s, when several software

and IT companies made the city

their home.

Schilling was among them, with his

multi-million-dollar IT consulting fir

Quilogy employing hundreds of workers

for two decades. After he sold the

company, he founded BoardPaq, which

provides a robust paperless portal for

leadership teams, boards, and committees.

Like other Midwestern founders,

Schilling has had the opportunity to

move his businesses to other cities but

chooses to remain in St. Charles because

the upsides are immeasurable.

“It’s all about doing the technology in

your hometown. A lot of the work, we

would sell it on the coasts, but we do the

SCHILLING HAS HAD THE OPPORTUNITY

TO MOVE HIS BUSINESSES TO OTHER

CITIES BUT CHOOSES TO REMAIN IN

ST. CHARLES BECAUSE THE UPSIDES

ARE IMMEASURABLE.

T

he mix of businesses, artists,

and services in St. Charles fosters

both innovation and community,

insists Randy Schilling, founder of OPO

Startups. Known for years as the city’s

historic district, today’s Main Street also

boasts entrepreneurs who specialize in

technology, digital marketing, education,

broadcasting, and more. The blend

keeps the city humming while contributing

to the forward-thinking allure of the

greater St. Louis region.

“It’s really about how we move the

region forward and have these innovation

spaces that are so critical to attracting

and retaining talent,” Schilling says.

“The startups provide so much energy

for the region.”

The collision of history, tech,

and community happens daily

now, thanks in no small part to

Schilling, who in 2015 converted

a 100-year-old post office into

OPO Startups, an innovation

space for entrepreneurs and creatives.

Now with seven nearby OPO buildings

that house both startup founders and

shops of every type, Schilling is building

an environment that invites smart

talent, encourages collaboration, and

keeps the local economy strong. Those

mom-and-pop shops along Main Street

are a big part of that, Schilling says, along

with the larger corporations in the area

and about 50 tech-related startups that

call the OPO buildings home.

Folks outside the St. Louis region

might be surprised to hear that dozens

of startups are spread throughout this

historic town along the Missouri River.

But the tech revolution has been happening

behind the doors of the restored

work here because of the cost of living,”

Schilling says. “And not only that, but

also a sense of family. My wife and I both

grew up here.”

With the variety of economic development,

innovation, and talent training

happening throughout the entire St.

Louis region, Schilling is confident that

all communities will rise.

“I think St. Louis is really getting a

great reputation for our entrepreneurship

and innovation because we are

taking a more regional approach to it,”

Schilling says. “The whole region has

startup fever and this thirst for innovation,

and I think that people thrive

on that. Ultimately, if you’re trying to

attract and retain the best talent, having

these innovation centers just pumps

such positive energy into the region.”

Learn more about people who

are moving the St. Louis region forward

at theSTL.com.

Photography by Michael Thomas 67


STLife // Made in St. Louis

Art in Motion

THROUGH THE JUSTICE FLEET, AMBER JOHNSON EMPOWERS PEOPLE TO HEAL.

By Jacqui Germain

RIGHT: STU-

DENTS ENCOUR-

AGED AMBER

JOHNSON TO

FIND A WAY TO

TAKE THE FOR-

GIVENESS QUILT

AND OTHER ART

EXPERIENCES

ON THE ROAD.

OPPOSITE

PAGE: COLOR

PLAYS A BIG

ROLE IN JOHN-

SON’S WORK.

T

he sunlight that streams into Dr. Amber Johnson’s

office at Saint Louis University shines on

a large inflatable pool fill d with hollow plastic balls of

every color.

“Anything that is looked at as fun makes difficult conversations

easier,” Johnson insists. “Like, if you get into

that ball pit, you can say things that you might not be

willing to say outside of the ball pit. It’s just something

about playing that makes people feel comfortable.”

THE ART OF PLAY

Playfulness and a sense of safety are fundamental to

Johnson’s work teaching intercultural communication

and critical culture studies courses at SLU. For more

than a decade, Johnson, who uses they/them pronouns,

has worked with students in the classroom to explore

and unpack identity, privilege, and bias.

To help students process what can be emotional

sessions, Johnson developed the Forgiveness Quilt, a

68


collaborative arts activism project that

invites participants to paint their bias,

ask for forgiveness, and create positive

affirmation about healing and letting

go. The project resonated with students,

who insisted that Johnson find a way to

bring the project to more people in St.

Louis and beyond.

Thus, the Justice Fleet was born. After

speaking with colleagues about how to

take empowering art activities on the

road, Johnson secured an old delivery

VULNERABILITY

P L A Y S A

CRITICAL ROLE IN

TRANSFORMATION.

truck through SLU and began transforming

it into a carrier for healing.

“They [SLU] have been incredibly supportive.

This is the only institution that’s

supported me to this level. When I originally

went to them and said, ‘I want to

take my classroom activities mobile,’ they

gave me the truck,” Johnson says.

A collection of mobile workshops and

exhibitions designed to transform and

empower communities through arts

activism, the Justice Fleet typically

comes complete with paint, toys, Legos,

and, of course, a ball pit. The fl et travels

throughout St. Louis and even to other

areas of the country, serving as a resource

both in neighborhoods that often are

overlooked and museums where privileged

curators are interested in making

art more universally accessible. Johnson

also frequently ends up in educational

spaces and nonprofits, presenting Justice

Fleet activities to people across a variety

of ages, races and backgrounds.

Unpacking the weight that comes

with exploring identity and trauma can

be more difficul for adults than it is for

children, Johnson finds. But eventually,

there’s a breakthrough.

“We basically create an experience

that allows adults to learn how to play

again and imagine. We have these social

injustice scenarios, like gender issues,

racism, economic justice, food justice,

environmentalism, education,”

Johnson explains. “Essentially, we

ask people to build the community

that they would want to live in, that

tackles these issues that are in this

scenario.”

The Justice Fleet’s active exhibitions

include Radical Forgiveness

and Radical Imagination,

with another two exhibitions in

development. The popular Radical

Imagination uses lighthearted

laughter and a sense of play to

encourage vulnerability and creativity,

helping participants open

themselves up to imagining a more equitable

and just future.

“A group of six people might huddle

around a box of toys, and what we’ve seen

is that community members, if given the

space, know what’s wrong, know how to

fix it, and know how to assess it,” says

Johnson. “It’s just a matter of giving them

the space to do it.”

“If you ask an activist or someone

who is an educator, in terms of systemic

oppression or social justice, ‘What world

do you want to live in?’ usually there’s no

answer. But if you ask them to explain all

the things that’s wrong with the world, we

could talk for years,” Johnson explains.

“We’ve spent a lot of time deconstructing

systems of power, but this is about what

we want to build in its wake. Once we get

rid of these systemic issues, what do we

want to experience? What do we want

life to feel like, to be like and sound like?”

USING VULNERABILITY TO

MOVE TOWARD HEALING

In the last year alone, Johnson’s work

with The Justice Fleet has yielded a number

of noteworthy ethnographic insights

around intercultural communication and

identity negotiation. For such heavy,

unquestionably complicated topics, creating

a playful atmosphere might seem

counterintuitive. But, Johnson says, playfulness,

laughter, and creativity make

room for vulnerability, and vulnerability

plays a critical role in transformation.

“Getting people to understand that creating

opportunities for others to seek and

thrive in their own powers does not take

away from your own power is the hardest

lesson to teach people,” Johnson says.

In many ways, the protests in Ferguson

and throughout St. Louis in recent years

were the epicenter of what has since

become a national conversation around

racism, justice, and systemic inequity.

But across the country, the questions,

challenges, reactions, lessons, and art

that Johnson has witnessed with The

Justice Fleet share similarities that they

find es ecially striking.

“Everywhere I go, it’s the same paintings,

the same topics,” Johnson says.

“There’s a massive universal struggle

for marginalized folks, and it might

transpire differently but it has the same

roots. Rural communities, big cities, suburbs,

same stuff. It’s rooted in your big

-isms—gender, sexism, racism, economic

injustice.”

It would be shortsighted to assume that

racism and the other “big -isms,” as Johnson

says, are at all unique to St. Louis. But

by that same logic, perhaps possible solutions

could become just as widespread.

Projects like the Justice Fleet attempt to

build emotionally thoughtful, innovative

pathways through vulnerability, learning,

and forgiveness, ultimately moving

participants closer to their own healing.

And to Johnson, the reality and necessity

of healing is the biggest takeaway from

the Justice Fleet’s work.

“Healing from trauma associated with

oppression is just as important as crafting

policies that combat oppression,”

Johnson says. “We talk about equity all

the time, but we don’t talk about healing

enough. And those things have to happen

at the same time.”

Learn more about Amber Johnson, the

Justice Fleet, and others moving

St. Louis forward at theSTL.com.

Photography by Jennifer Silverberg

69


STLife

THE POPULAR PIDE

AT BALKAN TREAT

BOX, RECENTLY

NAMED BY BON

APPÉTIT AS ONE

OF THE BEST NEW

RESTAURANTS IN

THE U.S.

70


Photography by Kevin A. Roberts

On the

Menu

MEET SOME OF

THE CHEFS WHO

ARE RESHAPING

THE CULINARY

LANDSCAPE.

By SLM Staff

S

t. Louis is experiencing a restaurant golden age of sorts,

and even the coasts are taking notice. Food & Wine

proclaimed St. Louis among the top “32 Places To Go (And

Eat) in 2019,” extolling praises on Vicia, Savage, and Cinder

House. Our city’s chefs are also consistently nominated for

James Beard Awards.

At the same time, chefs are rolling out creative cuisine after

getting their start with food trucks and pop-ups. Entrepreneurs

are taking real risks, experimenting with concepts that

are entirely new to St. Louis: a cat café, a coff e-meets-fl wer

shop, a potsticker-themed restaurant, a burger joint made of

shipping containers…

St. Louis cuisine is on-trend too. The tide’s come in with a

wave of new poke shops. And while long known for our beer—

USA Today recently ranked us “Best Beer City”—our drink

menu is still expanding, with craft breweries opening at a rapid

rate and microdistilleries gathering steam as well.

Shortly before opening the acclaimed Billie-Jean, a sophisticated

space with black walls, ebony paneling, and eye-catching

modern art, restaurateur Zoë Robinson hinted that it will have

“that Studio 54 feel, sexy and intriguing.”

At one time, East Coast critics might have described the new

restaurant as a “New York–style space.” Now, they might call

it what it is: a St. Louis–style space.

71


STLife // On the Menu

Every great chef

has a story to tell.

RIGHT: QUI

TRAN OF NUDO

HOUSE AND MAI

LEE. OPPOSITE

PAGE: LORYN

AND EDO NALIC

SERVE GUESTS

AT BALKAN

TREAT BOX

IN WEBSTER

GROVES.

72 Photography by Kevin A. Roberts


Q

ui Tran left Vietnam as a baby,

survived polio, and started working

in his mother’s restaurant at age 8.

“We went where the U.S. government

sent us and ended up in St. Louis,” he

says. “We had no idea where we were

going—they could have sent us to Iowa.

We were just trying to get away, from

death. I was 3 when we got here.”

In the mid-’80s, his family opened Mai

Lee, the metro area’s first Vietnamese

restaurant, on a whim (“mainly because

there wasn’t one,” shrugs Tran). “It was

pretty quiet for us until [the late St.

Louis Post-Dispatch dining critic] Joe

Pollack—who’d never had the cuisine

before—talked us up in a review in the

late ’80s. After that review, a line went

out the door, and it’s been busy ever

since.” Even today, his mother continues

to work at the restaurant. “She won’t

leave the place,” Tran quips. “We’re both

there six days a week.”

Both Tran and his mother understand

that the restaurant owner can be a driving

force. “The owner creates the soul

of a restaurant, what distinguishes the

independents from the chain places,”

he says. “A good owner brings a uniqueness,

a warmth… The staff picks up and

emulates the hospitality vibe, which is

what turns an everyday restaurant into

a great restaurant.”

The same could be said of Tran’s own

ONCE A CITY GETS ON

THE BOARD, MORE PEOPLE

START TO NOTICE. THAT’S

WHAT’S HAPPENING.

venture. In 2017, three decades after

his mother opened her restaurant, he

decided to branch out with his own concept,

Nudo House. He spent three years

researching and refinin , even seeking

guidance from ramen master Shigetoshi

“Jack” Nakamura. “Noodle-making is an

art,” Tran explains, “and ramen noodles

are more involved than spaghetti or lo

mein.” He and chef Marie-Anne Velasco

expanded the menu to include Mai Lee

faves and St. Louis-based specials, including

the 3-1-Pho, named for St. Louis’ area

code. (“We’re all from St. Louis,” Tran

quips. “It was catchy—why not?”) The

interior includes a social media wall,

murals of traditional Japanese artwork

by local tattoo artist Brad Fink, and a

lantern with the word “ramen” written

in Japanese at the counter.

“That’s what I hope it says anyway,”

Tran jokes. “For all I know, it says ‘sushi.’

Or some swear word.”

Turns out Tran knew what he was doing.

From opening day, lines stretched out the

door. Nudo House’s pho eventually ended

up on the cover of Food & Wine magazine.

Tran recently opened a second location

on the burgeoning east side of the Delmar

Loop.

Tran sees St. Louis’ dining scene continuing

to grow, especially as the startup

scene expands. “Eighty-fi e percent of our

restaurant clientele lives here, which limits

what we can and should do,” he said in

2017. “As we grow as a city, as the techies

move here, that will change.”

Already, it’s happening, with more

progressive concepts in the works. City

Foundry is slated to open in 2020 with a

food hall similar to those in Atlanta, New

York, and beyond. At the same time, food

trucks continue to provide a springboard

for some of the city’s most popular concepts:

Guerrilla Street Food, Seoul Taco,

Balkan Treat Box…In fact, Bon Appétit

recently nominated Balkan Treat

Box, alongside Savage, as one of

America’s best new restaurants.

“I never in a million years thought

we’d receive this [level of recognition],”

Balkan Treat Box co-owner

Loyrn Nalic told SLM in September.

“I’m not a classically trained chef.

To go from being a single mom to

marrying a great man and opening

a restaurant that shines a light

on his [culinary heritage] in this

great city…it’s been incredible to

see it embraced. People like it, and

they’re coming back. Our city is so

supportive of the restaurant scene,

and we’re so grateful for it.”

Tran echoes the sentiment: “St.

Louis had been building culinary

momentum for the past several

decades. Once a city gets on the

board, more people start to notice.

That’s what’s happening.”

Photography by John Fedele

73


STLife || On the Menu

Refining the Craft

LEFT TO RIGHT:

RESTAURATEUR

GERARD CRAFT

IN HIS KITCHEN

AT HOME.

PAN-ROASTED

CHICKEN

BRINED IN MO-

ROCCAN SPICES

AT SARDELLA.

CINDER HOUSE

AT THE FOUR

SEASONS.

74

Photography by Carmen Troesser


S

ome would say it was Gerard

Craft who helped St. Louis firs

get on the board, drawing national

attention.

Just five years ago, Craft became

the first St. Louis chef to take home

the James Beard Award for Best Chef:

Midwest.

His original restaurant, Niche, opened

in a humble Benton Park storefront in

2005 and quickly become the most

buzzed-about place in town, serving creative

dishes once considered novelty and

elevating expectations. Craft and his

staff—who’d go on to themselves transform

the dining scene, opening such

hot spots as Planter’s House and Elmwood—would

explain the culinary magic

to guests. But Niche was just the firs

step. Brasserie, perfectly embodying the

everyday French fare and atmosphere

of its namesake, followed in the Central

West End. Then, next door, Taste, with

candlelit tables, creative cocktails, and

a speakeasy-style vibe. Next, Pastaria

marked a departure, with a soaring ceiling

and a more easy-going atmosphere

that welcomed all ages.

As SLM dining critic Dave Lowry

noted, “For St. Louisans, Pastaria is

among those restaurants that defin

our region and something of our personality:

unpretentious and celebrated.

It’s a place where families and couples

convene comfortably, one where we can

complain about the waits—and simultaneously

adore them.”

Craft would eventually go on to open

Sardella, serving brunch and dinner

next door to Pastaria, and

Cinder House, the Four Seasons

restaurant with dishes inspired

by the Brazilian nanny who kickstarted

the chef ’s love of food.

So when he was asked, in May

2015, whether winning such a

prestigious culinary honor would

ratchet up the pressure for Niche

Food Group, he replied, “Not

really. The award is validation

for what we’ve done—but we’ve

always had big plans. We’re always

pushing, regardless. I definite y

would like to see more Beard

awards in St. Louis.”

It didn’t take long. After being a

finalist twice before, Craft’s friend

Kevin Nashan, the owner of Sidney

Street Café and Peacemaker

Lobster & Crab Co., took home

the honor. Accepting his award

at a black-tie gala in Chicago, the

ever-humble chef said he “wanted

to thank St. Louis.”

In fact, he already had. On the heels of

Craft taking home the award, Nashan

had organized a get-together at Peacemaker

with some of the city’s top chefs

and scribes. There was a lot of handshaking,

hugging, and pats on the back.

There were memorable stories and

jokes. There was no tweeting, Instagramming,

or social-media distractions from

a gathering of folks who live and breathe

social media. It was a proud moment,

with many of the people responsible for

elevating the local dining scene—from

Pappy’s to Farmhaus, Cleveland-Heath

to Annie Gunn’s—assembled to commemorate

the chef whose award provided

arguably its biggest boost of all.

And St. Louis was just getting started.

JUST FIVE YEARS AGO, CRAFT

BECAME THE FIRST ST. LOUIS

CHEF TO TAKE HOME THE

JAMES BEARD AWARD FOR

BEST CHEF: MIDWEST.

Photography by Kevin A. Roberts 75


STLife || On the Menu

Natural Growth

LEFT TO RIGHT:

AT VICIA, CHEF

AND CO-OWNER

MICHAEL GALLI-

NA SPECIALIZES

IN VEGETABLE-

FORWARD

DISHES. FROM

ITS MODERN

EXTERIOR TO

ITS SLEEK INTE-

RIOR, VICIA IS

A NATURAL FIT

IN THE CORTEX

INNOVATION

COMMUNITY.

THE RESTAU-

RANT PUTS

AN EMPHASIS

ON FRESH,

SEASONAL

INGREDIENTS.

76

Photography by Kevin A. Roberts


WE WANT TO OFFER

AN ELEVATED DIN-

ING EXPERIENCE

THAT CAN BE

ENJOYED BY

GUESTS IN A NEW

WAY EACH TIME

THEY VISIT.

B

efore moving here, in 2015, native

St. Louisan Michael Gallina and

his wife, Tara, worked at upstate New

York’s acclaimed Blue Hill at Stone

Barns, which presents proteins and vegetables

in new ways. Michael also did a

stint at the similarly forage-focused

Fäviken in Sweden.

Michael recalled his time in Sweden,

harvesting vegetables for that night’s

service. “That’s where I got my first

sense of the concept of ‘vegetableforward,’

where I learned it was possible

to celebrate vegetables in ways I’d never

thought of before,” he said. “Because the

winter was long and rough, we learned

the value of preserving vegetables, pickling

them, aging them in beef fat, curing

and aging meats.”

Stone Barns also off red memorable

lessons. “We worked one day per week

on a farm and the other four in the restaurant,”

Tara recalled. “Visit a deer farm

and watch how the family uses the animal,

right down to making jewelry with

the antlers, and it opens your eyes. We

had research assignments; we learned all

about sustainability. That apprenticeship

was the most transformative moment of

my life. It was utopian there. It felt like

graduate school much more than a job.”

The Gallinas brought what they’d

learned to St. Louis. They believed

locals were ready to embrace the concept—though

it still needed refinin . So

they spent almost a year doing pop-up

dining events. “We were impressed with

how open-minded people were,” Tara

recalled. “We never published a single

menu ahead of time. People were excited

about the surprise element.”

Eventually, after growing anticipation,

they announced plans for their

restaurant, Vicia, in the Cortex Innovation

Community. Designed by Sasha

Malinich (who also designed several of

Craft’s and Nashan’s restaurants), the

Nordic-influen ed atmosphere is composed

of a glass-enclosed kitchen, a stone

bar, bleached-oak tables, and ebonizedblack

ash chairs. As with Blue Hill, the

staff engages with customers and with

the ingredients, from farm to plate,

and the menu changes sometimes

daily. Ingredients are prepared and

presented in unexpected ways,

with a wood fi e being the secret

behind many of the dishes.

And the reception? Bon Appétit,

USA Today, and Esquire named

Vicia one of the nation’s best new

restaurants in 2017. The following

year, Food & Wine declared

Michael one of the country’s best

new chefs. In 2019, he was named a James

Beard Award finalist. “I’m proud of our

team at Vicia and humbled by how supportive

the city, and especially our guests,

have been since we opened,” he said.

Then, last November, the Gallinas

embarked on a new adventure: Winslow’s

Table. Situated inside a former neighborhood

market in University City that

for years housed the beloved Winslow’s

Home, the restaurant is predicated on

feedback from customers of its predecessor

while instilling the DNA of Vicia.

“There’s an identity with our brand in

terms of quality of produce and attention

to detail, the hospitality being a big

part of that,” Tara told SLM in November.

“This was an opportunity that we felt was

once-in-a-lifetime… If we were going to do

one more thing, this made sense.”

77


STLife // On the Menu

Taking Center Stage

TOP:

ACCLAIMED

CHEF ROB

CONNOLEY

ENTERTAINS

GUESTS AT BUL-

RUSH. BELOW:

PANNA COTTA

AT SAVAGE.

A

t the same time that the Gallinas

were introducing St. Louis

to Vicia’s progressive menu, another

Blue Hill alum was pushing the envelope.

Logan Ely hosted a year-long, cuttingedge

pop-up series (think such ingredients

as ants), Square1 Project, before

moving forward with a brick-and-mortar

of his own inside a former grocery

store in Fox Park. He created a restaurant

with an 18-seat communal table and

the kitchen in front, eff ctively putting

the chef front and center.

“Like Square1, Savage is an

opportunity for me to learn and

grow,” he said shortly before opening

Savage in 2018. “From the layout

to the menu, it represents my

best answers to all of the issues

and obstacles of doing a nightly

tasting menu.”

Guests choose from several set

menus: a larger menu of 12 to 15

courses and at least two smaller

menus of fi e to seven courses. As

SLM dining critic Dave Lowry put

it, “Ely fli ts with your palate. This is less

a meal than a series of sensations. Flavors

and textures ricochet and bounce.”

Likewise, just a few miles away, chef

Rob Connoley puts on his own culinary

show of sorts at Bulrush. Like Ely and

the Gallinas, there’s again an emphasis

on fresh, foraged ingredients. In fact,

Connoley wrote the book on it, literally:

Acorns & Cattails: A Modern Foraging

Cookbook of Forest, Farm & Field.

Another book on display in the dining

room, a faded copy of The Shepherd

of the Hills, hints at the restaurant’s

theme of elevated Ozark-inspired fare,

a unique concept in St. Louis. (Like

the aforementioned chefs, the James

Beard-nominated chef also first hosted

a series of pop-up dinners, including

a 30-minute speed-dining experience

and another featuring only blackcolored

foods.)

Beyond a more casual bar area, an

open kitchen surrounded by 24 seats

hides behind wood slats meant to evoke

the Ozark hills. It’s there that Connoley

creates such minor masterpieces as a

simple-but-elegant Gulf Coast oyster

with a briny “potlikker” foam, paw paw

caviar, and an oyster leaf garnish.

There’s often a story behind the

dishes. “Our menu is taken from the

period in the Ozarks between 1820 and

1870,” Connoley announces before the

seven-course tasting.

The humble chef might not admit it,

but the story of how Connoley—and

other adventurous chefs like him—

reached such a point is equally inspiring.

78 Photography by Kevin A. Roberts


A Family Affair

LEFT TO RIGHT:

A WOOD-FIRED

PIE FROM

KATIE’S PIZZA &

PASTA OSTERIA.

A LINE OFTEN

WINDS OUT

THE DOOR

AT PAPPY’S

SMOKEHOUSE

IN MIDTOWN.

A

t one time, dining out with

the family meant animatronic

mice and stuffed-crust

pizza. In recent years, however,

local restaurateurs have brought

a certain sophistication to the kidfriendly

establishment.

Pastaria was the first place in

town to generate an extra table

turn. Beginning at 5 p.m., the restaurant

is often full of young families

with kids. At Katie’s Pizza &

Pasta Osteria, there’s modern

art on the walls, upbeat music on

the speakers, and Cool Hand Luke

on the big screen, yet the kids are

right at home, with butter noodles

so good, Mom and Dad will want

to share. Pi Pizzeria is the same, with a

hip atmosphere and craft beers—but

a laidback vibe and slices of apple “pi”

for dessert.

Beyond pizza joints are other lively

spots where parents and kids can

unwind. The patio at Billy G’s is a perfect

example. Parents will appreciate

the alfresco bar and sprawling cabanas;

tykes will embrace the kids’ menu and

coloring sheets. Three Kings Public

House, too, offers an extensive beer

menu and quality food—and the entrées

on the kids’ menu come with a cookie.

Then there’s breakfast. Few places

are more family-friendly than Rooster

where black-and-white roosters drawn

by youngsters hang on the walls, and

The Shack, where the barnwood walls

are covered in colorful scribbles. Webster’s

The Clover and The Bee (from the

owners of the acclaimed and perpetually

packed Olive + Oak next door), with

its whimsical floral mural, specializes

in “food that is fresh, casual, and simple

yet sophisticated.” It’s a philosophy

that Russell’s on Macklind echoes with

its freshly baked sweets and sandwiches.

At Half & Half, chef and co-owner Mike

Randolph regularly offers seasonal specials

to accompany the popular blueberry

pancakes and acclaimed coff e

program. Randolph also recently opened

a new casual-dining concept: Original

J’s, serving Tex-Mex and barbecue near

downtown Clayton.

Finally, there are the crowd favorites.

Pappy’s Smokehouse is a perpetual

crowd-pleaser. The Boathouse in Forest

Park, where kids obsessively watch

the ducks and dogs, has benefited from

a recent makeover. In Kirkwood, Mission

Taco Joint is planning its seventh

and largest location, including a retrostyle

arcade. And the colorful Fountain

on Locust continues to serve up both ice

cream martinis and the $1 World’s Smallest

Ice Cream Cone.

Yes, nowadays, parents and kids can

have their dessert and eat it, too.

Photography by Kevin A. Roberts

79


STLife // On the Menu

Beyond the Dish

THESE CHEFS AND RESTAURATEURS ARE ELEVATING THE DINING SCENE.

DAVID KIRKLAND

Having built a following at Café Osage, the former DJ

opened a catering company and music-inspired restaurant,

Turn, inside .ZACK in Midtown. There, he turns

out breakfast and lunch options (labeled Side A and

Side B, respectively, on the menu), as well as reasonably

priced dinners, in a space with a record-lined wall.

MIKE JOHNSON

Johnson’s lively, family-friendly restaurants are among

St. Louis’ most popular. Sugarfi e Smoke House has rapidly

expanded in recent years, with locations across the

metro region. Lines often form for burgers and shakes

at Hi-Pointe Drive-In. And at The Boathouse in Forest

Park, Johnson’s rolled out new dishes and events.

80


CLOCKWISE

FROM OPPOSITE

PAGE: DAVID

KIRKLAND. BEN

POREMBA. ZOË

ROBINSON.

DAVE AND KARA

BAILEY. NATA-

SHA BAHRAMI.

CEAIRA JACKSON

If you’re searching for seafood in St.

Louis, consider a visit to Bait, located

in a historic building just off the beaten

path in the CWE, where Jackson serves

fresh dishes.

BEN POREMBA

The stylish restaurateur has helped

transform Botanical Heights, with the

acclaimed Elaia (in a rehabbed brick

home) and Olio (in a former gas station).

Nearby, Nixta serves elevated Mexican

cuisine and has garnered acclaim from

the likes of Bon Appétit. And in Maplewood,

Poremba serves Moroccan

fare and craft cocktails at The

Benevolent King.

NATASHA BAHRAMI

After immigrating here from Iran,

Bahrami’s parents introduced

Persian cuisine to St. Louis by

opening Café Natasha’s in 1983.

Over the years, Bahrami has

watched the international dining

options expand along South

Grand and added The Gin Room,

replete with a new patio bar. Bahrami,

also known as The Gin Girl,

is also an ambassador for the spirit,

speaking at seminars across the U.S.

CARYN DUGAN

Also known as STLVegGirl, the vegan

enthusiast recently opened The Center

for Plant-based Living in Kirkwood,

hosting cooking classes, educational

programming, meal-prep classes, and

team-building.

ZOË ROBINSON

Along charming Wydown Boulevard,

Robinson has created a triple threat of

alluring restaurants, with Bar Les Freres,

I Fratellini, and Billie-Jean. Having found

a way to stay at the forefront of St. Louis’

dining scene for years, the savvy restaurateur

appeared in Vogue in 2018.

DAVE AND KARA BAILEY

The prolific restaurateurs have opened

a string of creative concepts—Baileys’

Chocolate Bar, Bridge Tap House & Wine

Bar, Rooster’s two locations, Small Batch,

Baileys’ Range, and POP—with their latest

being a barbecue concept, Knockout

BBQ, at Rooster on South Grand.

RICK LEWIS

After making his mark at Quincy Street

Bistro and Southern, the affable chef

opened Grace Meat + Three in the former

Sweetie Pie’s space in The Grove.

This fall, he added a late-night, Southern-inspired

street food concept in the

adjacent space, Grace Chicken + Fish.

NICK BOGNAR

At indo, Bognar focuses on Southeast

Asian cuisine and expands the popular

omakase dinners that brought him local

acclaim (and a spot on the James Beard

semifinalist list for Rising Star Chef of

the Year) at Nippon Tei in Ballwin.

Photography by Carmen Troesser, Kevin A. Roberts, Matt Marcinkowski, Courtney Sames

81


STLife

Culture

Club

WHETHER IT’S

MUSIC, PAINTINGS,

OR PERFORMANCES,

ST. LOUIS’ ARTS

SCENE IS TRULY

WORLD-CLASS.

By SLM Staff

82


Photography courtsey of The Dark Room at The Grandel

THE DARK ROOM

AT THE GRANDEL

HOSTS LIVE MUSIC

EVERY NIGHT.

83


STLife // Culture Club

t. Louis’ arts scene offers something

for everyone.

S

Consider the music offerings, reminiscent

of a jukebox, with one catchy

song often leading to another. President

Barack Obama named folk singer

Tonina Saputo’s song “Historia De un

Amor” among his favorites of 2018.

Indie musicians Beth Bombara and

Sleepy Kitty have also earned loyal followings.

Then there’s the more avantgarde,

including collective HEARding

Cats and experimental group New

Music Circle. You can even find household

names, such as St. Louis native

and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, who

still frequents his hometown.

And at the National Blues Museum—

hailed as a travel-worthy destination

by The New York Times, the Smithsonian,

and CNN—you can see interactive

exhibits and then stick around to hear

the real deal from the likes of Jeremiah

Johnson, Skeet Rodgers, Kim Massie,

and Marquise Knox, who also often perform

at the storied Broadway Oyster

Bar and BB’s Jazz, Blues, and Soups.

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN

Even St. Louis’ most time-honored arts

institutions are experiencing a stream

of new faces and ideas.

At just over a century old, The

Muny’s never looked better. Against

all odds (marauding raccoons, rapidfire

rehearsals, and 1,000 moving

parts), we’ve managed to keep one of

the world’s largest open-air musical

theaters vibrant for a solid century.

Broadway stars come here

and sing themselves hoarse

because our audiences give the

energy right back. The Muny’s

cooler by the minute—literally,

thanks to the giant fans, but also

because of the new high-tech

backdrops and top-flight talent

At Powell Hall, French conductor Stéphane

Denève recently took the baton,

bringing a new perspective. St. Louis

Symphony Orchestra president Marie-

Hélène Bernard describes Denève as

“someone who brings a lot of joy to the

stage. He makes you forget how challenging

life is and connect to what matters…

What he wants is for you to love

the music. He wants to remove the barriers

that people so often self-impose.”

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis executive

producer Tom Ridgely is also working

to remove such barriers, whether

through the organization’s schools,

streets, or park programs. And the

recently launched In the Works festival

is adding new productions beyond the

84 Photography by Jessica Page, courtesy of Lion Forge, the National Blues Museum


Bard—a timely idea that Shakespeare

would have likely embraced.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’ new

general director, Andrew Jorgensen,

also believes in “constantly exploring

and redefining…to keep the art

form fresh.” He’s doing just that with

the help of such talented additions

as Damon Bristo, OTSL’s director of

artistic administration, and Patricia

Racette, artistic director of young artist

programs.

And at The Repertory Theatre of

St. Louis, new artistic director Hana

Sharif is moving the acclaimed theater

into a new era. She launched the

inaugural season with Tony Kushner’s

Tony-winning Angels in America and

recently directed Christopher Baker’s

adaptation of the classic Pride

and Prejudice. As she said when she

first stepped into the role, “I hope that

together we’ll be able to craft stories

and bring forward voices that really

refl ct the evolution of our society and

our city.”

ART AS A BRIDGE

In 2018, Luminary co-founder James

McAnally wrote an article for VICE

titled “A Radical Black Arts Renaissance

Is Reshaping a Fractured St.

Louis,” highlighting the profound work

of Damon Davis and Katherine Simóne

Reynolds.

That same year, the Saint Louis

Art Museum showcased the work of

Kehinde Wiley, the renowned artist

who painted Obama’s portrait for the

Smithsonian National Gallery. For the

SLAM exhibit, Wiley visited St. Louis

and invited people he met in north St.

Louis neighborhoods and Ferguson

to pose for him. The show was such a

success, the museum later purchased

one of the portrait artist’s large-scale

works from the exhibit, Charles I,

based not on the 1633 portrait of the

English monarch but inspired by St.

Louis resident Ashley Cooper.

Saint Louis Art Museum director

Brent Benjamin noted that the exhibit

was “tied closely to our collection and

to our city, and it encouraged each of

us to examine artistic traditions, current

events, and the power of art to

unite our community.”

With Lion Forge, David Steward

II is also reshaping art, exploding

stereotypes, and reinventing

the superhero. The St. Louis–

based comics company is more

progressive than the big guys;

Lion Forge finds ways to smash

stereotypes, involve a diverse

mix of creators, and challenge

assumptions. This revolution’s

fun, too, with artful graphic novels,

edgy comics for grown-ups,

and whimsical comics that open

up whole worlds for little kids.

Best of all, the superheroes are

flawed and real—which makes

their triumphs even cooler.

SUPPORTING THE ARTS

St. Louis is looking out for local

artists in other ways as well.

The Kranzberg Arts Foundation

recently announced its second

class of music artists–in–residence,

providing support and space for Midwestern

musicians.

Similarly, Craft Alliance offers an

artists-in-residence program. Not only

does it provide emerging and mid-career

visual artists with space and support, but

it also encourages the artists to teach

classes, host programming, and connect

with the community.

CLOCKWISE

FROM LEFT:

TONINA

SAPUTO. THE

NATIONAL

BLUES MUSEUM.

STÉPHANE

DENÈVE

CONDUCTS

THE ST. LOUIS

SYMPHONY

ORCHESTRA.

THE REP’S

NEW ARTISTIC

DIRECTOR,

HANA SHARIF.

LION FORGE’S

ACCELL.

And the Kranzberg Arts Foundation

recently opened The High Low, a literary

nexus in Midtown. “St. Louis has a

strong literary arts tradition,” said Chris

Hansen, executive director of the Kranzberg

Arts Foundation. “The High Low

seeks to uplift and nurture that strong

tradition, ensuring that there is always a

space, time, and place where the literary

arts can start and graduate.”

Photography by Kevin A. Roberts, Matt Marcinkowski

85


STLife

AT AROUND 1,300

ACRES, FOREST

PARK IS LARGER

THAN NEW YORK’S

CENTRAL PARK.

86


Photography by Steve Jett

Get

Outside

GREEN SPACE

ABOUNDS IN AND

AROUND THE

METRO AREA.

By SLM Staff

H

ere in St. Louis, we’re fortunate to have all the conveniences

of a major metro area and no shortage of picturesque

retreats in our big backyard. In the city alone, there are

dozens of parks, large and small, with Forest Park and Tower

Grove Park rivaling the nation’s best. Just beyond the city limits,

you can quickly access rolling hills and rugged terrain, with

some stretches reminiscent of the Smoky Mountains. We hope

this story will serve as an initial jumping-off point, encouraging

you to get out and see the many other scenic spots that are

just waiting to be explored.

87


STLife // Get Outside

City Gems

88 Photography by Jerry Naunheim Jr.


CLOCKWISE

FROM OP-

POSITE PAGE:

VISITORS CAN

RENT PADDLE

BOATS AT THE

BOATHOUSE AT

FOREST PARK.

THE NEW LOVE

VS. MONEY

SCULPTURE

ATOP KALDI’S

IN CITYGARDEN.

THE UNZIP

THE EARTH

SCULPTURE AT

CITYGARDEN.

YOGA IN TOWER

GROVE PARK.

CARONDELET PARK

At 180 acres, St. Louis’ third-largest

park boasts a picturesque

boathouse, historic Lyle House,

and a popular summer concert

series at the city’s southern edge.

CITYGARDEN

World-class sculpture abounds: Igor

Mitoraj’s Eros Bendato (that wonderful

giant head), Keith Haring’s Untitled

(Ringed Figure), Erwin Wurm’s playful

Big Suit… Fountains, flora, and a 14-foot

video wall add even more life to this

downtown oasis.

COMPTON HILL RESERVOIR PARK

Built in 1898, the water tower is one of a

handful left standing in the U.S. (Three

are in St. Louis.) On the night of the full

moon, climb the 170-foot tower, and see

360 degrees of the city from South Grand.

FAIRGROUND PARK

At one time, the site was home to the

nation’s largest amphitheater, the city’s

first zoo, a racetrack, and the Agriculture

and Mechanical Fair, which drew

crowds from around the globe. Today,

the facade of the zoo’s bear pit still

stands in North St. Louis.

FOREST PARK

At around 1,300 acres, the gem of the city

is larger than New York’s Central Park.

The Grand Basin at the foot of Art Hill

looks like something you’d see in Paris,

and The Boathouse feels like summer in

Maine. Breezes ruffl tall native grasses

around Pagoda Island. Some of the city’s

most beloved attractions—the Saint Louis

Zoo, the Missouri History Museum, the

Saint Louis Art Museum, The Muny, the

Saint Louis Science Center, Steinberg

Skating Rink, the Jewel Box—complement

the surrounding landscape, much of which

has been returned to its natural habitat.

GATEWAY ARCH NATIONAL PARK

There are so many ways to celebrate

the overhauled Arch grounds: explore

the new museum, catch a concert at the

amphitheater, play at nearby Kiener

Plaza, gaze up at the Old Courthouse’s

rotunda, eat at the Arch Café, and (of

course) ride to the top of Eero Saarinen’s

masterpiece, ideally at sunset.

LAFAYETTE PARK

On the near south side, in Lafayette

Square, the city’s oldest park is surrounded

by Victorian architecture and

has a lake at its heart where Victorians

at one time paddled in swan boats.

PENROSE PARK

Near Kingshighway in North St. Louis,

Penrose Park boasts one of approximately

25 velodromes in the nation,

where cyclists can race around a mini

NASCAR-like track.

TOWER GROVE PARK

Henry Shaw developed the South City

park to give St. Louis “a grand pleasure

ground,” with wide lanes for horsedrawn

carriages, gates guarded by zinc

griffins and exotic pavilions and gazebos.

Every few feet, there’s something

to see: lions copied from the tomb of

Pope Clement XIII, the ancient ruins of

the Lindell Hotel—and one of the best

farmers’ markets around.

Photography by Kevin A. Roberts, @salveoyoga

89


STLife // Get Outside

Farther Afield

90 Photography by Ashley Fleming


CLOCKWISE

FROM OPPOSITE

PAGE: A BOY

BALANCES

ON A LOG AT

ROCKWOODS

RESERVATION.

CREVE COEUR

LAKE.

BABLER MEMORIAL STATE PARK

Located near Wildwood, Babler’s 2.2-

mile Dogwood Trail spans about 300 feet

with its ups and downs. Start at the shelter

on Guy Park Drive, and cross Equestrian

Trail before reaching the Dogwood

loop. (You’d best bring a map.) Heading

north, begin your first ascent. Toward

the end of the loop, watch for a path to

Babler Spring, tucked beneath a 20-foot

outcropping. Along the way, you’ll see, of

course, dogwoods—the whole park glows

with them in spring.

BEE TREE COUNTY PARK

At this South County park, start civilized,

at the Tudor mansion. Out back,

take the stone stairs down to a grotto

and follow the path to the Mississippi

Trail, which leads to the Chubb Shelter

Overlook. Walk along the bluff on the

Mississippi Trail, then take the Crow’s

Roost Trail through a confetti of dogwood

and redbud blossoms to the lake.

Circle the water on Fisherman’s Trail,

listening to the frogs’ spring chorus, and

cross the footbridge. Stop to take in the

scenery; there’s a good chance you’ll spot

a great blue heron. At the lake’s north

end, branch off to enjoy more wildfl w-

ers, then come back to the lake and walk

east to Paw Paw Trail, which leads back

to Chubb Pavilion.

CASTLEWOOD STATE PARK

Of all the great trails at Castlewood,

near Ballwin, the 3.25-mile River Scene

Trail has the most spectacular views

of the Meramec River Valley. Poets say

the park’s “castles” are the bluffs themselves,

crenellated by wind and rain.

Climb up to those bluffs for a panoramic

view, and hike for about a mile, your

breath caught by one scenic overlook

after another. Then descend wooden

stairs and hike past the ruins of Castlewood’s

years as a glamorous Art Deco

resort. Pass through the railroad tunnel,

then turn toward the river and follow

Kiefer Creek Road back to the trailhead.

CENTRAL PARK

In Chesterfield, J. Seward Johnson’s

enormous sculpture The Awakening, a

bearded giant struggling to free himself

from the earth, attracts kids (who

love to climb on its enormous hands and

knees) and newlyweds alike. Chesterfiel

Amphitheater often stages popular concerts,

films, and festi als.

CLIFF CAVE PARK

It’s said that this South County park was

a riverside tavern, then a hideout for

horse thieves, then a meeting place for

Confederate sympathizers… Now it’s a

gated enclave for the Indiana bats of Cliff

Cave Park, so give them their privacy and

head up a gently sloped path and across

a trestle bridge to the stunning new river

outlook on the bluffs. Then walk back

down to the lower overlook and pick up

the Mississippi River Trail, which loops

through the fl odplain bottoms. Later,

try the shorter River Bluff and Spring

Valley trails, which climb and twist. Cliff

Cave Park has a bit of everything: woodlands,

rocky hillsides, flat grassland, and

a pond whose frogs sound like an orchestra

tuning up. Afterward, picnic at the

Riverside Shelter, which has a great view

of tugboats and barges.

Photography by Brenden Finnerty

91


STLife // Get Outside

CREVE COEUR PARK

Visitors without boats can get out on the

park’s popular 320-acre lake by visiting

Creve Coeur Lake Rentals. And while

there’s no shortage of sporting options—

kayaking, disc golf, trails, archery, tennis

courts—the Go Ape Treetop Adventure

Course is located in the upper park area.

In the mood for a scenic hike? Follow the

3.8-mile Lakeview Loop, which runs past

a spillway, wildlife (herons, egrets, ducks,

wild turkeys), flora and fauna (oak and

hickory trees, persimmon, sassafras,

black cherry, and spicebush), and the

Dripping Springs waterfall.

EDWARD “TED” AND PAT JONES–

CONFLUENCE POINT STATE PARK

Just across the river from Alton, follow

an interpretive trail through the fl odplain

to the shore of the confluence,

and witness the rivers’ raw power, as

the current effortlessly sweeps entire

trees downstream. On your way home,

pass through the Riverlands Migratory

Bird Sanctuary and stop at the Audubon

Center at Riverlands.

FAUST PARK

This Chesterfield park can keep a brood

amused for hours, boasting the Sophia

M. Sachs Butterfly House, the St. Louis

Carousel, a historic village, and an alwayspopular

playground.

FORT BELLE FONTAINE

In North County, history abounds at the

stone steps near the Missouri River’s

edge. Fort Belle Fontaine’s the site where

Zebulon Pike set out to explore the great

Southwest, Meriwether Lewis and William

Clark set up camp, and First Lady

Eleanor Roosevelt heard a concert on

the Grand Staircase.

JEFFERSON BARRACKS

Missouri opened a new military

barracks in 1926, six days after

President Thomas Jeffer on died.

Naturally, it was named in his

honor. Today, the South County

park is still steeped in history,

with museums devoted to the telephone,

Powder Magazine, and the

state’s role in the Civil War.

KLONDIKE PARK

The name Klondike conjures

gold-hungry forty-niners panning amid

snow-capped mountains. In truth, the

community’s miners once harvested

silica sand from the bluffs near the

Missouri River. Today, the white cliffs

near Quarry Lake, in the heart of the

St. Charles County park, are the most

telling evidence of the site’s former life.

The paved 3.02-mile Lewis & Clark Trail

(wrapping around the lake and running

from a boat ramp at the park’s eastern

edge to the Katy Trail at its southwest

side). Even better, rent a bike at

Katy Bike Rental in Defian e, pedal to

the wineries in Augusta, and camp at

Klondike.

LAUMEIER SCULPTURE PARK

Internationally revered for its worldclass

collection—with pieces from such

artists as Niki de Saint Phalle, Ernest

Trova, and Beverly Pepper—Laumeier

is still as pioneering as it was when the

park in Sunset Hills was incorporated

in 1977. Don’t miss the new Adam Aronson

Fine Arts Center and the Kranzberg

Education Laboratory.

LONE ELK PARK

Over the past half century, the wildlife

at this former military ammo depot in

West County has gradually grown from

the park’s namesake sole bull elk to

herds of elk, bison, and whitetail deer.

The looping 4-mile White Bison Trail

is a great path for spotting elk as well

as deer, hawks, wild turkeys, herons,

ducks, geese, and—from a comfortable

distance—bison. Leave Fido at home for

this one, and keep a respectful distance

from the elk, lest they gore you. On the

way out, stop at the World Bird Sanctuary,

and pay homage to another iconic

North American animal, the bald eagle.

OLIN NATURE PRESERVE

Situated above the limestone bluffs hugging

the Great River Road between Alton

and Grafton, Illinois, the 294-acre preserve

is a pristine retreat with 300-plus

native plant species and more than 150

birds, including migratory bald eagles.

PERE MARQUETTE STATE PARK

Start at the historic lodge, where you can

pick up a trail map. Then set out along

the 1.5–mile Goat Cliff Trail, the park’s

oldest path, which passes ancient rock

formations and boasts three scenic overlooks,

including McAdams Peak—the

park’s most breathtaking spot—as its

grand final . Take the Ridge and Dogwood

trails back to the lodge, where you

can relax with a drink at the on-site winery

or by the grand fi eplace.

POWDER VALLEY CONSERVATION

NATURE CENTER

This 112-acre gem is conveniently

located near Interstates 44 and 270 in

Kirkwood. The park’s three paved trails

are easy to navigate (ideal for families

with little ones, though note that pets

are prohibited), and the onsite learning

center is one of the area’s best, complete

with wildlife exhibits and programming.

QUEENY PARK

We owe thanks for this sprawling park in

Ballwin to Edgar Monsanto Queeny, who

was a horseman and naturalist as well as

CEO of a chemical company. On the east

side of Queeny, look for the county’s firs

dog park, near the former Museum of

the Dog. The Greensfelder Recreation

Complex plays host to carefree ice-skaters

and hard-hitting roller derby players

alike. The 4.4-mile Hawk Ridge Trail

crosses creeks and winds past fl wers,

lakes, and wildlife.

ROCKWOODS RESERVATION

Erected more than 150 years ago, the

Lime Kiln Loop Trail’s 40-foot-tall namesake

towers above the trailhead at Rockwoods,

near Wildwood, where you can

learn about its past life as a mining community

and the land’s dramatic restoration.

This 3.2-mile trail is (fitting y) the

rockiest of the park’s six options. For a

considerably longer hike, consider taking

the 10-mile Green Rock Trail.

92 Photography courtesy of St. Louis County Parks


CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP LEFT:

THE HISTORIC

STAIRCASE AT

FORT BELLE

FONTAINE

PARK. LAUMEI-

ER SCULPTURE

PARK IS FULL

OF EYE-

CATCHING ART,

INCLUDING THE

ICONIC EYE.

NEAR GRAFTON,

ILLINOIS, PERE

MARQUETTE

STATE PARK

OFFERS SCENIC

VIEWS AT THE

NEXUS OF THE

MISSISSIPPI

AND ILLINOIS

RIVERS.

SHAW PARK

Clayton’s oldest and largest park is

home to some carefully chosen public

art, including James Surls’ Molecular

Bloom with Single Flower, Carol Fleming’s

ancient-looking Egg (in the Sensory

Garden), and Ernest Trova’s Geometric

Abstract No. 2 (in the Moneta Garden).

SHAW NATURE RESERVE

Missouri is a big state with a startling

variety of terrain and plant

life. At this 2,400-acre reserve

near Gray Summit, you can trek

through prairieland, wetland, and

woodland to get a sense of the

state’s diverse topography. The

short Prairie Trail aff rds views

of 70-plus types of wildfl wers.

SUSON PARK

If your child yearns for the country, head

to this 98-acre park in South County,

where there’s a working animal farm,

three stocked fishing ponds, and a full

schedule of activities. (Visit stlouisco.

com/parks for dates.)

TILLES PARK

Sure, the holiday light display is a draw

to this park in Ladue, but it’s the playground—designed

for children of all abilities—that

attracts families year-round.

WELDON SPRING CONSERVATION AREA

Near Weldon Spring, you’ll find the

trailhead for the Lewis and Clark trails,

which wind through the tree-lined hills

to the limestone bluffs overlooking

the Missouri River. The Lewis Trail is

an 8.3-mile loop, or you can take the

Clark Trail cutoff for a shorter jaunt

of 5.3 miles. The most scenic stretch is

along the trails’ southernmost reaches,

where several spurs offer stunning

river views.

Photography courtesy of the Illinois Office of Tourism, @eakdesign

93


STLife

Lesson

Plans

FROM GRADE

SCHOOL TO GRAD

SCHOOL, LOCAL

EDUCATORS

ARE TAKING

I N N O V A T I V E

APPROACHES.

By SLM Staff

94


Photography by PeopleImages / Getty Images Plus / via Getty Images

95


STLife // Lesson Plans

S

t. Louis is a prime place to launch

a career after graduation. But

don’t take our word for it—just consult

the experts.

Last year, Forbes.com ranked the

metro region No. 1 in the nation among

the “Happiest Cities for Job-Seeking College

Grads,” citing an average cost-ofliving

adjusted salary of $50,900. Similar

sites, such as Zip Recruiter and Smart

Asset, also put the Gateway City high on

their lists, touting the affo dable cost of

living, low unemployment rate, and buzzing

arts and sports scenes.

What those lists don’t mention: all the

ways that the region’s educational institutions

are driving opportunity for all ages

through key partnerships, ambitious initiatives,

and innovative lesson plans.

REAL-WORLD SKILLS

With St. Louis being a global leader in

biotech, it may come as no surprise that

the region’s schools offer no shortage of

engaging programs from an early age

that revolve around science, technology,

engineering, and math.

Between Ferguson and Florissant, a

97-acre island of unspoiled forest known

as Little Creek Nature Area is where children

in the Ferguson-Florissant School

District have come for nearly 50 years

to learn fundamental lessons about science

and history. They spend their days

exploring this living laboratory: studying

wildlife, testing the pond’s water quality,

tending a vegetable garden. “There’s

really nothing like this in Missouri that’s

tied so tightly to a school district,” Eric

Hadley, the district’s science coordi-

nator, told SLM in 2018. “There are a

lot of schools with greenspace or who

work closely with the Missouri Botanical

Garden, but they don’t have a dedicated

space like this.”

The Reggio Emilia-inspired Raintree

School also instills the power of nature

from an early age. Nestled in 11 wooded

acres in Town & Country, the state’s

only Forest School emphasizes the outdoors,

with youngsters playing on logs

and boulders, rather than slides and

monkey bars. They help grow their own

food onsite and prepare it in a teaching

kitchen led by a chef.

Elsewhere, students learn about STEM

in other interactive ways. Seventh and

eighth graders at Chesterfield Montessori

School visit the 7-acre “Land Lab”

near Dr. Edmund A. Babler State Park

to learn about habitat enhancement

and the environment. Seventh-graders

at Saint Louis Priory School travel to

August A. Busch Memorial Conservation

Area, where they take soil, water, and

invertebrate samples to learn about science.

Middle-schoolers at Maplewood–

Richmond Heights learn about physics

while rope-climbing on a giant oak tree

named Oscar. At St. Louis University

High School, environmental STEM class

students develop and launch a weather

balloon to detect weather patterns

across changes in amplitude.

Tech plays an equally important role in

interactive learning. At New City School,

tykes learn about 3-D printing, coding,

and robotics. To demonstrate energy

conservation, eighth-graders at John

Burroughs School design Rube Goldberg

machines and analyze them on video.

Middle-schoolers at Villa Duchesne

and Oak Hill School use computer coding

to create digital sprites. And MICDS

recently launched an underwater robotics

program, with students testing their

robots in the pool to learn about buoyancy

and teamwork.

96 Photography by Katleho Seisa, E+ / via Getty Images


MANY OF THE

AREA’S MORE

THAN TWO DOZEN

COLLEGES AND

UNIVERSITIES

HAVE FORGED

S I G N I F I C A N T

R E L A T I O N S H I P S

B O T H H E R E

AND ABROAD.

Partnerships also play a key role in

learning. Students from across the

region visit BizTown, a Junior Achievement

of Great St. Louis program. In a

pint-size city, they can learn about

a wide range of occupations and the

innerworkings of a community. They

might pretend to take out a loan to start

a business, sell cookies at a restaurant,

or conduct a TV interview with a highpowered

CEO.

Students also receive feedback from

real-life organizations. Middle-schoolers

at The Principia learn about animal

adaptations by using technology

to build zoo enclosures and then presenting

the results to a Saint Louis Zoo

expert. And at Pattonville High School,

students learning about cybersecurity

compete in the Air Force–sponsored

CyberPatriot national cybersecurity

competition, acting as IT pros

at a small company. (Pattonville’s

team was ranked in the top 5 percent

nationwide last year.)

THE NEXT LEVEL

St. Louis is home to more than two

dozen colleges and universities.

Ranked by U.S. News & World

Report among the top 10 medical

schools for research in the

nation, Washington University is

pioneering insights into genomics,

Alzheimer’s, and more. It also

continues to expand its footprint

in the Central West End.

On the Washington University

medical campus, two 12-story towers

have significant y expanded care for

infants, women, and cancer patients.

And medical researchers are working

closely with innovators in the nearby

Cortex district.

The university’s Danforth campus

recently underwent a $360 million construction

project—the most expensive

in its history—with an emphasis on sustainability.

The project spans two new

academic buildings, the renovated Mildred

Lane Kemper Art Museum, and the

expanded Central Green.

New chancellor Andrew D. Martin also

recently pledged to provide free education

to incoming undergrads from

Missouri and southern Illinois whose

families earn $75,000 or less per year

or who are Pell Grant-eligible.

At Saint Louis University, ranked

by Princeton Review as No. 2 in the

nation for community service, medical

researchers are leading the way in

developing a universal flu vaccine and a

holistic approach to trauma care. And

the $550 million SSM Health Saint Louis

University Hospital is slated to open near

Tower Grove Park later this year.

SLU is also collaborating with the

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

on research, training, and innovation.

Following the announcement of a Collaborative

Research and Development

Agreement last year, SLU president Fred

Pestello noted, “Because of SLU’s diverse

geospatial research and training portfolio,

we are well positioned to support the

NGA’s work.”

Webster University also has a global

reach, with campuses in Greece, Thailand,

France, China, Ghana, and beyond.

It boasts a world-class chess program,

led by Susan Polgar, who was recently

inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.

Maryville University also has game. Its

esports team recently took second in the

League of Legends International College

Cup, after being the only U.S. team to

qualify. That’s not its only tech-related

claim to fame, though. An Apple Distinguished

School, the university provides

incoming full-time undergrads with an

iPad and educational apps as part of its

Digital World program.

Harris-Stowe State University works

with the Verizon Innovative Learning

program to provide students at underresourced

schools with cutting-edge

technology—virtual reality, coding,

robotics—and exposure to STEM-related

careers. The university is also building

a new student union and residence hall,

as well as renovating its library.

At its Forest Park campus, St. Louis

Community College recently opened a

four-story $39 million health sciences

building, where nearly 450 nursing students

are enrolled.

And Ranken Technical College

recently opened the Robert W. Plaster

Free Enterprise Center, a manufacturing

incubator and training facility where

students can get first-hand experience.

“For more than 100 years, Ranken has

been a catalyst for St. Louis,” Mayor Lyda

Krewson said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony,

“and will continue to be.”

WASHINGTON

UNIVERSITY’S

DANFORTH

CAMPUS

RECENTLY

UNDERWENT A

$360 MILLION

RENOVATION.

Photography by James Ewing

97


STLife

URBAN FORT PLAY

CAFÉ OFFERS

RESPITE FOR

PARENTS AND

TYKES ALIKE IN

SOUTH CITY.

98


Photography by Kevin A. Roberts

Bring

the Kids

THERE’S A REASON

THAT ST. LOUIS IS

SO OFTEN CALLED

FAM I LY- F R I E N D LY.

By Amanda E. Doyle

99


STLife // Bring the Kids

I

t’s a given: If you have young children

or are considering it, you’ll

be told, “St. Louis is such a great place

to raise a family!” Natives often boomerang

back when babies start arriving,

and transplants get the full-court

press about attractions, quality of life,

and affordability. The region offers

attractive elements that many families

seek, from fun places to go to an array

of school choices. At the same time,

some organizations are working hard

to address gaps in health care and opportunities

for families of all socioeconomic

backgrounds. Whether you’re already

here or considering the leap, here are

a handful of reasons that St. Louis is so

often called a family-friendly town.

QUALITY FUN TIME

St. Louis has long been known for its

abundance of free or affo dable cultural

and entertainment amenities. Beyond the

popular animal-centric attractions (the

Saint Louis Zoo, Grant’s Farm, Purina

Farms), there are countless outdoor

concert series (Whitaker Urban Evenings

in St. Louis Place, the Compton

Heights Concert Band in Tower Grove

Park), parades (Labor Day, St. Patrick’s

Day, Annie Malone Day, Cinco de Mayo),

speakers and musical performances,

such as the literacy/health storytimes

at the Public Media Commons.

It’s more than even the super family

from The Incredibles could accomplish.

Neighborhoods, too, offer a great

prism for enjoying the area. Park the

car in Maplewood, and shop fair trade

goods at Zee Bee Market before enjoying

lunch at Schlafly Bottleworks. Or

hit up La Mancha Coff ehouse in Old

North for food, Crown Candy Kitchen

for a malt, Central Print to eyeball vintage

letterpress machinery and printed

products, and mosey down 14th Street

to enjoy visual and performing arts on a

First Friday Art Walk.

If you enjoy sports, there are major

and minor league teams. Or get moving

at Upper Limits Indoor Rock Climbing

Gym, on a bike on Grant’s Trail, or

at the vast natural playscape in Forest

Park that’s scheduled to debut later this

year. Engage in our city’s history in ways

that can make tangible connections with

kids through exhibits at the Missouri His-

tory Museum, the Lewis & Clark

Boathouse, and the Griot Museum

of Black History. Exercise the gray

matter, too, by checking out the

Saint Louis Science Center or

getting into a game of chess at

the Saint Louis Chess Club. Or

put head and hands together at

Myseum or The Magic House,

which recently opened a new

location at M.A.D.E. makerspace

in University City.

Brand new to the scene, Centene

Community Ice Center near Hollywood

Casino boasts more than 250,000 square

feet of icy fun, from community skating

to serious training facilities for figu e

skating and hockey. Near Lafayette

Square, Urban Fort Play Café thrilled

families across the city when it opened

in 2018. After already offering a parentfriendly

café and kid-welcoming indoor

playscape, the restaurant recently added

hands-on science and sensory play

classes and themed story times.

In fact, several much-loved spots provide

plenty of return fun. Case in point:

the always-evolving City Museum gave in

to clamoring families by creating a season

pass for the first time in its history.

(It also recently added an 11,000-squarefoot

“artquarium,” complete with a

sculpture of a seven-legged octopus.)

100 Photography courtesy of the Saint Louis Zoo, The Magic House


CLOCKWISE

FROM LEFT:

POLAR BEAR

PLUNGE AT THE

SAINT LOUIS

ZOO, CITY MU-

SEUM’S WIND-

ING STAIRCASE.

THE FERRIS

WHEEL AT THE

TOP OF CITY

MUSEUM. THE

COLORFUL IN-

TERIOR OF THE

MAGIC HOUSE

IN KIRKWOOD.

And libraries across the region are

stretching to meet the needs of modern

families with author visits; summer

camps; performance opportunities; and

classes in manga, podcasting, and even

circus arts.

BEYOND THE CLASSROOM

While St. Louis offers no shortage of

traditional education options, some

organizations are working to ensure

quality education is accessible for

everyone, regardless of socioeconomic

background. SkipNV, for example, is

striving to bring parents, teachers, and

youth together to “understand how

the system works,” explains executive

director Saras Chung. The organization

pairs “their truth with rigorous

research, data, and computational

simulation to help identify strategies

for change in partnership

with local school districts and educational

advocates.”

Other groups take a slightly

diffe ent approach, beyond the

classroom. Family reading program

WeStories is designed to

help families talk about race and

justice. Welcome Neighbor STL

creates a support network for

immigrant and refugee families.

New nonprofit LitShop pairs the

building trades and literacy in

meaningful ways for middle-school

girls, frequently in disadvantaged

city neighborhoods.

Activities that are both educational

and entertaining abound across the

region. At Craft Alliance, kids and families

can try metalsmithing, clay work,

and other artistic mediums. The Novel

Neighbor in Webster Groves offers art

classes for budding artists, who can learn

to draw characters from Teen Titans Go!,

Dogman, Minecraft, and their own creations.

And Play Street Museum in St.

Charles caters to the preschool set, with

a small-format, interactive setting where

kiddos can use their imaginations.

Want to embrace the great outdoors?

Beyond the usual suspects (The Butterfly

House, Shaw Nature Reserve, Forest

Park, Lone Elk Park), Powder Valley

Conservation Nature Center offers kidfriendly

trails and ongoing classes like

“Turtles for Tots” and “Tree-riffic! And

families can get their hands dirty while

harvesting crops—that just happen to

be growing on the roof of a downtown

building, in the case of Food Roof Farm.

MAKING IT ALL WORK

Here’s the kicker: St. Louis’ relatively

inexpensive living costs, with rents/

mortgages being a good chunk below

the national averages.

“St. Louis consistently ranks in top

10 and even top 5 housing affo dability

lists,” according to Stephanie Hug Morgan,

a realtor with Coldwell Banker Gundaker.

“The vast majority of residents

can affo d to buy a home here, usually

around 75 to 80 percent, compared to

the Bay area or New York City, where less

than 10 percent of the population can

affo d the housing available. Sometimes,

newcomers arrive with the intent to rent

and quickly realize you can buy a home

for less than rent—and it will likely be a

nicer property!”

Then there’s the overall ease of daily

tasks. Parking is pretty easy and pretty

cheap. We have the second-fastest work

commute of 20 major metro areas, as of

last year. And even when you’re ready

to get out of town, our central location

makes travel elsewhere feasible, too. The

region also boasts a robust menu of highquality

health care providers and dozens

of low-key places to unwind—with

or without the little ones.

Photography by Kevin A. Roberts, courtesy of The Magic House

101


STLife // Difference Makers

102


Difference Makers

COMPANIES, ORGANIZATIONS, AND INSTITUTIONS THAT

MAKE ST. LOUIS A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE AND WORK.

103


STLife // Difference Makers

Photography (above) courtesy of St. Louis Post-Dispatch

104


Purina

Your Pet, Our Passion

PURINA.COM

Founded in St. Louis 125 years ago, Purina is an international leader

in pet care and a household name in pet food, treats, and litter, with

brands like Dog Chow, Friskies, Pro Plan, Purina ONE, Beggin’ Strips,

Beyond, and Tidy Cats. With deep roots in the city, Purina’s petfriendly

U.S. headquarters attracts top talent, employing more than

2,000 people in St. Louis, many of whom bring their dogs (and cats)

to work with them every day. The company has more than 500 pet

nutritionists, behaviorists, immunologists, and veterinarians on staff

globally who work tirelessly to make breakthrough discoveries and

groundbreaking products that help pets live longer, healthier lives.

Science-based nutrition for pets is at the heart of what Purina

does, but it isn’t all the company is known for. Guided by the belief

that pets make life richer, and driven by its passion, Purina is on a

mission to bring and keep pets and people together, starting in its

own backyard.

PROMOTING PET ADOPTION

Each year, Purina supports pet shelters, rescues, and other nonprofits

throughout the greater St. Louis area by providing funding,

pet food, cat litter, and volunteer support that helps bring pets

and people together. For more than 12 years, Purina has led the St.

Louis Petlover Coalition, made up of more than 50 area nonprofits,

with a mission to improve the lives and increase adoption of dogs

and cats in our community.

From supporting St. Louis’ biggest ‘Slumber Pawty’ at 16 area

shelters, raising awareness and funds for homeless dogs and cats, to

encouraging St. Louisans to ‘Raise a Pint for Pets’ with local brewer

Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, Purina is always seeking ways

to support shelter pets and the people who care for them.

KEEPING PETS AND PEOPLE TOGETHER IN DIFFICULT TIMES

As an organization built on the belief that people and pets are better

together, Purina has turned its commitment to pet welfare into

advocacy for domestic abuse victims with pets through the

Purple Leash Project, which funds pet-friendly renovations

at domestic abuse shelters across the country.

The lack of services and resources for domestic violence

survivors with pets leads many victims—nearly half—to

stay in abusive situations for fear of their pet being injured

or killed should they leave. Currently only 10 percent of

domestic abuse shelters in the United States allow pets.

To ensure pet-friendly services are available to survivors

with pets in St. Louis, Purina has worked with Lydia’s House,

which provides transitional housing to survivors, to convert

four of its apartments into pet-friendly spaces, with plans

for more transformations in 2020.

Purina also has worked with St. Louis Children’s Hospital

to build the first-ever Purina Family Pet Center, enabling

patients to reconnect with their beloved pets during

extended hospital stays. The facility brings together familycentered

care with the healing power of pets to promote

patient wellness. Since completing the project, Purina has

partnered with others, such as Ranken Jordan Pediatric

Bridge Hospital, to bring therapy dogs into hospitals.

ENGAGING PET LOVERS

Purina Farms is the place where pet lovers of all ages go to

play, learn, and compete. This family-friendly attraction

located on more than 300 acres just outside of St. Louis

in Gray Summit, Missouri, offers an opportunity to get up

close and personal with a variety of farm animals as well

as dogs and cats. The Visitor Center, open from Memorial

Day through Labor Day, boasts a variety of fun activities,

including hayloft play areas, interactive, educational exhibits,

tractor-drawn wagon rides, adoptable animals, and exciting

canine performances of flying disc, agility, and diving dogs.

The Purina Event Center at Purina Farms, a state-of-theart

84,000-square-foot indoor facility, is open year-round

to host some of the most prestigious dog and cat shows

in the country, as well as special pet-friendly events open

to the general public.

THROWING THE NATION’S BIGGEST PARTY FOR PETS

For more than 20 years, Purina has sponsored the Purina

Pet Parade, a Guinness World Record–holding event, in

the Soulard neighborhood. Held annually on the Sunday

before Mardi Gras, it’s a showplace for pet pride, attracting

tens of thousands of people and their pets to the party.

The Purina Pet Parade is one of many pet-friendly events

the company supports in St. Louis, including Purina Pooches

in the Ballpark at Busch Stadium and the Great Forest

Park Balloon Race.

Whether you’re in St. Louis to live, work, or play, rest assured

that there are plenty of ways to include your four-legged

friends in your experience, thanks to a little help from the

pet lovers at Purina.

105


STLife // Difference Makers

106


HOK

HOK believes design has the ability to

improve people’s lives where they work,

play, heal, learn, and dwell.

HOK.COM/STLOUIS

With offices around the globe, HOK designs buildings and spaces

that respond to the needs of people and the environment. HOK

designers are rooted in technical excellence, driven by imagination,

and focused on a solitary goal: to deliver solutions that inspire clients

and communities. The firm was founded in 1955 in St. Louis and has

since grown into a network of 24 offices and more than 1,800 people

across the globe. Today, HOK consistently ranks as the city’s largest

architecture and interior design firm.

HOK has shaped the fabric of St. Louis through the design of iconic

commercial, civic, and cultural landmarks, including Busch Stadium,

the Science Center Planetarium, the Priory Chapel, and St. Louis

Lambert International Airport. Current projects in the metropolitan

area include St. Louis’ new Major League Soccer stadium, Boeing

NeXt offices, 7th Street Streetscape, South Grand Flats, and multiple

projects at the Cortex Innovation Community, including the 4340

Duncan, Cambridge Innovation Center, and with Wexford Science +

Technology: @4240 Duncan, 4220 Duncan, and the soon-to-come

4210 Duncan Building.

In addition, HOK’s people are active in the community, helping others

understand the power of design. They teach at local universities,

mentor young people, and are involved in nonprofits across the

region. The firm has partnerships with St. Louis charitable organizations

including the United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Pedal the

Cause, Arts and Education Council, and St. Louis Children’s Hospital

KIDstruction Week.

107


STLife // Difference Makers

St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Blues

CARDINALS.COM / STLOUISBLUES.COM

For more than a century, Cardinals baseball has been a source of

excitement and civic pride. With 11 World Series Championships,

19 National League Pennants, and a rich history of winning baseball

by the storied franchise, St. Louisans bleed Cardinal Red.

Since the ownership group led by Bill DeWitt Jr. purchased the

Cardinals from Anheuser-Busch in 1996, the Cardinals have posted

the fourth-best record in the majors and advanced to the postseason

14 times, including two World Series championships and four National

League pennants.

In 2019, the NL Central division champion Cardinals drew more

than 3.4 million fans to Busch Stadium (second-most in MLB)

and ranked No. 1 in local TV ratings. The team’s home market fan

base spans a 10-state region, drawing a large number of visitors to

St. Louis annually, pumping millions of dollars into the local economy

and helping local businesses.

The upcoming season will see the completion of the Cardinals’

and The Cordish Companies’ $260 million second phase of Ballpark

Village—a full build-out of Clark Street that includes a 29-story luxury

residential tower (One Cardinal Way) and a Live! By Loews luxury hotel,

in addition to the recently opened PwC Pennant Class-A office tower.

Whether for the day, the weekend, or the full season, the team

looks forward to welcoming every fan to the ballpark in 2020.

For over half-a-century, Blues hockey has dug its roots deep

into the fabric of the St. Louis community, cultivating one of

the most passionate and loyal fan bases in all of professional

sports. In 2019, the relationship between the Blues and their

beloved city and fans came to a thrilling crescendo, as the

team brought home the first Stanley Cup Championship in

franchise history. The unprecedented title run, from worst

to first in the NHL, further solidified the Blues as one of the

most storied organizations in the NHL. With a championship,

nine division titles, a Presidents’ Trophy, and more

than 20 alumni enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame, the

Blues have carved out a unique stake in hockey lore.

Led by a local ownership group, the organization has

worked tirelessly to grow its footprint by engaging the

St. Louis community and its fans everywhere and providing

a first-class experience across all its platforms.

In the summer of 2019, Enterprise Center completed a

three-phase renovation project, revitalizing the building and

elevating it to an elite level shared by the greatest venues

around the country. From the unparalleled action of a Blues

home game to a collegiate rivalry game to world-renowned

musical acts, Enterprise Center has established itself as

the cultural epicenter of the city of St. Louis.

The St. Louis Blues look forward to welcoming you

downtown soon.

108


The Regional

Business Council

Advancing the St. Louis Region is Our Business

STLRBC.ORG

RBC outcomes are felt throughout the St. Louis region. Whether it’s

growing and retaining top talent through the 4,200-strong Young

Professionals Network, investing more than $1 million in the It’s Our

Region Fund to help 160 nonprofits and community organizations

better serve their populations, shrinking the skills gap through STL.

works, restoring historic neighborhoods through Operation Clean

Sweep, raising more than $165 million for the United Way of Greater

St. Louis, or addressing public safety through strategic partnerships,

the organization is committed to putting their talent and resources

behind high-impact business, civic, and philanthropic initiatives for

the betterment of the St. Louis region. When committed business

leaders work together for the greater good and future generations,

the results can be remarkable. That’s what drives the Regional

Business Council, a consortium of CEOs representing 100 of the

region’s largest and most influential employers. These

companies have a tremendous impact on the economic

health of the St. Louis region, employing more than 120,000

of its residents and generating more than $65 billion

in revenue. With its business, civic, and philanthropic

mission, RBC members work together to influence progrowth

and pro-business public policy, develop diverse

professional talent, advance school reform to educate

all youth, fill skills gaps in our workforce, consult with

key leaders on issues around crime and safety, and give

back to the region through community engagement and

investment. They’re pooling their energy, enthusiasm,

and skills to help change the face of the region. It’s an

exciting challenge, and that’s their business.

109


STLife // Difference Makers

Chef Vince Bommarito, Jr., Chief Culinary Offi er at Butler’s Pantry

Butler’s Pantry

New Venue, Same Promise of Quality.

Meet 18Rails | The Venue @ City Foundry STL,

Built by Butler’s Pantry.

18RAILS.COM

Rooted in tradition but known for innovative catering and event

design, Butler’s Pantry is who St. Louis has counted on for premier

catering and event solutions since the company’s inception in 1966.

Through elaborate private dinners for few to festivals for thousands,

Butler’s Pantry’s vibrant and diverse team of event professionals are

masters of their craft and the creators of memorable celebrations.

Butler’s Pantry’s deep commitment to St. Louis is defined by the

more than 40 preferred venues in their portfolio and six brands

within the family. As a company, they have always been invested

in the future of St. Louis; that is why next year, second-generation

owner of Butler’s Pantry, Richard Nix Jr., will open the doors to the

region’s most exciting new event space: 18Rails | The Venue @ City

Foundry STL.

18Rails | The Venue @ City Foundry STL will explore event experiences

like never before with unrivaled innovation—transforming a

former electric company into a chic-industrial space. Ideal for any

size gathering, guests will enjoy the multi-functional space, located

directly off of the highly anticipated Food Hall.

The culinary experience will feature five-star innovative

menus from chef Vince Bommarito, Jr., chief culinary

officer at Butler’s Pantry. Previously the executive chef at

a James Beard Award finalist restaurant, chef Vince will

combine his experience, expertise, and passion for creating

seemingly impossible culinary offerings at 18Rails with

never-before-seen food stations and a la carte offerings.

The space is completely versatile with a captivating entry,

statement vestibule providing extra convenience, and an

‘Instagram-able’ backdrop for share-worthy moments.

The expansive venue accommodates up to 700 guests,

cocktail-style (with optional pre-function division). It features

an entire wall of windows, original I-beams, plenty

of character, and the most innovative audio visual effects.

18Rails, conveniently located in the heart of the City

Foundry development in Midtown, was once the center

of industrial activity, sitting near a hub where 18 rail lines

connected St. Louis to the rest of the country. The branding

for 18Rails pays homage to the area where City Foundry

is located. The number 18 references the year that Saint

Louis University was founded in 1818, and the convergence

of the rail lines signifies that St. Louis is the “Gateway to the

West.” Although inspired by the past, 18Rails | The Venue

will offer ample free parking, state-of-the-art technology,

and many modern conveniences.

110


Saint Louis Science Center

Connect with Curiosity

SLSC.ORG

With the mission “to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology

learning,” the Saint Louis Science Center strives to inspire the next

generation of scientists, engineers, explorers, and problem solvers.

One of only a few free nonprofit science museums in the country,

the Science Center serves more than one million people each year,

making it one of the largest science centers in the U.S. and abroad. The

museum features more than 700 interactive experiences in 10 galleries,

as well as GROW, an indoor-outdoor agricultural science exhibit; the

iconic James S. McDonnell Planetarium; Boeing Hall; and the five-story

OMNIMAX® Theater, which features science-related documentaries,

as well as periodic feature-length IMAX films.

The Science Center regularly partners with national organizations,

including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

and the Smithsonian Institution. In 2016, the Science Center was named

a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate, the first organization to receive the

designation in the St. Louis area. The organization is a member of the

Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) and has a long

history of holding leadership roles within ASTC. It is also accredited by

the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and of the 1,070 museums

currently accredited by AAM, it is one of only 31 science museums

nationwide to hold that distinction.

The Science Center is open to all, inviting curious minds

from all backgrounds to explore, create, and share new

ideas through informal and interactive experiences. The

organization helps people discover the genius in themselves

and others with award-winning educational programs,

exhibits, and attractions designed to challenge and connect

people—from students and scientists to children and adults.

In addition to the informal education activities that

take place at the Science Center campus, the organization

provides hands-on opportunities in the community in a

number of ways, including the Youth Exploring Science

(YES) program. Using an informal learning environment

and project-based education in science, technology, engineering,

art, and mathematics (STEAM), each year the

YES program helps approximately 200 teenagers grow

professionally and academically, preparing them for college

and successful careers.

By creating a place and programs where everyone can

discover together, the Saint Louis Science Center is forging

the future of the region. It’s putting St. Louis at the center of

science and science at the center of a more connected world.

111


STLife // Making a Splash

Making a Splash

I

f you’re looking for an example of St. Louis’ vibrancy,

look no further than the shadow of the Arch, where

the Gateway Mall has seen a dramatic makeover in recent

years. Just beyond the renovated grounds of Gateway Arch

National Park, Kiener Plaza has been transformed into a 1.9-

acre green space and gathering place, replete with fl wering

trees, shaded footpaths, café-style seating, a bike parking

grove, a playground, a woodland garden, and interactive

water features. Two blocks west, Citygarden (pictured) is an

urban oasis, where kids splash amid sculptures and parents

find scenic respite. On any given day, you’ll see St. Louisans

and visitors of all stripes—families, sports fans, foodies, newlyweds—gathered

at the heart of the city to unwind, refl ct,

and celebrate.

112

Photography by Kevin A. Roberts




HOW INNOVATION, IMAGINATION, AND MOMENTUM ARE FUELING A REGIONAL RENAISSANCE

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