Posts Tagged ‘Grand Center’


Activity in Grand Center

March 30, 2010

The Intersection of Art and Life has been off to a great start this year.  Kota Fire Grill is open and with the same ownership as Triumph Grill I have faith that it will outlast its location’s recently previous tenants.  Around the corner at 3526 Washington, a new hair salon, Salon Edge Hair and Tanning is open, with a Jewelry Store, Grand Center Jewelers, and a Computer Repair shop, Virtual Technologies.

3526 Washington

This retail space is a great addition to Grand Center and I wish these businesses success.  Luckily they will be able to take advantage of added traffic from the City Diner @ The Fox which although behind schedule (what isn’t) appears to be well on it’s way to opening.  Today I saw this public announcement about a neon sign for the new diner.

Extremely exciting.  Another recent move to Grand Center was made by the Veterans Affiars Dermitology Clinic to the retail space in the Continental Life Building on Olive.  Today when I went to take a picture of this new office I found an even better picture @ Grand and Olive.

Cobblestones and Streetcar Track peeking through the street on Grand and Olive

The history of Grand Center is its greatest asset in my opinion and I think this is one pothole the city should not repair.

Also underway is work on the new location of Sweetie Pie’s on Delmar.  I’m very glad to see that the ugly facade is being removed to expose the brick building.

New Sweetie Pie's

Seeing the work here actually started is really great, particularly so soon after the initial announcement.  I hope we see the same kind of swift action getting work started on renovating the Beaux Arts Building (Carter Carburetor Corporation @ 711 N. Grand) to be the home of Grand Center’s new Arts oriented Charter School (the Grand Center Arts Academy)

I am very happy to hear about this new Grand Center Development and think that another school in the area (there are already at least 2 in Grand Center) will be great.  2010 is looking pretty nice for Grand Center and I can’t wait to see these latest projects reach completion.


Sweetie Pie’s: Coming to Grand Center!

February 26, 2010

From the St. Louis Business Journal and the St. Louis American:  Sweeetie Pie’s is opening up a third location (not including the Granite City restaurant/bar/nightclub Sweetie Pie’s Easton Delmar in Grand Center!

Future Home of Sweetie Pie's

This is wonderful news for all of us because Grand Center needs more activity and Sweetie Pie’s is delicious!  Governor Nixon even came down to the Sweetie Pie’s location in the Grove for the announcement.  Pretty cool.  Check out this Living St. Louis video on Sweetie Pie’s.  As soon as I watched it for the first time I went straight down Manchester and got myself some of that Mac & Cheese.  If you haven’t been, you really should go.

UPDATE: This month’s St. Louis Magazine has a great interview with Robbie Montgomery, Owner of Sweetie Pie’s.

UPDATE 2: This project hasn’t had any activity for some time now and may be dead.


The Best Steak House

February 5, 2010

The Best Steak House, with its prime location (on Grand “across from the Fox“), delicious food, reasonable prices (shown after tax on the menu boards) and otherwise wonderful experience, is my favorite place to eat.

St. Louis Restaurants

Best Steak House in Grand Center

As a SLU student I would sometimes eat lunch at the steak house and then return for dinner.  When I discovered the Chicken Gyro, I met one of my best friends.  At my most recent job, I had a Monday, Wednesday and Friday Best Steak House Lunch set up that ran for months.  My coworkers and I would play a game where we would try to finish an entire steak dinner and then stay awake for the rest of the shift.

Steak and Chicken Plate - 10 dollars after tax

I accidentally covered up my steak with the Texas toast for this picture but there really is a six ounce rib-eye under there and the meal did actually cost just ten dollars.  More commonly I get the chicken sandwich baked potato daily special which comes out to 5.85 with tax – Incredible.  If possible, save room for dessert.  German Chocolate cake, Carrot cake and Baklava are my favorites here but if you’re too full after eating one of those steak dinners, I’d recommend simply looking around the room at the excellent collection of historical photographs of the neighborhood.  This history lesson is expanded upon a little more by Living St. Louis:

According to the small ammount of additional information I have been able to find online, The Best Steak House on Grand is a remnant of what was once a larger trend in the United States.  Luckily, from what I have read, we are left with the Best of the Best Steak Houses.  A reviewer of The Best Steak House on Broadway in Chicago gave a brief history of the business model:

Once upon a time, “Best Steak Houses” littered big cities and small towns across America. They weren’t part of a chain or a franchise — they were just cheap places to get a steak, baked potato, and the ubiquitous Texas toast.

This reviewer “John B.” went on to give the Chicago eatery a terrible review demonstrating to me that what our Best Steak House has to offer is truly unique in the year 2010.  In many ways, Grand Center owes the increasing stability it now has more to the Steak House than to the Fox Theatre or Powell Hall.


Ghost Sign on Centene Center for the Arts

January 27, 2010

Today, while reading Misfit Stream, a great River des Peres resource (there is so much information out there about this river), I stumbled upon a historic photograph with a familiar looking building – the Continental Life.

Olive looking towards Grand in the 1960s(?)

Just above and to the left of the bowling pin on the right side of this photo is a painted sign for the INTL ASSN of Machinists.  This same sign is still visible today on what is now the Centene Center for the Arts.

Centene Center for the Arts - Grand Center

Although it is quite faded, the wording is still fairly legible at the right side of this photo.  The harsh juxtaposition of a busy, dense, street with one that is now all but abandoned is a little bit sad, but it should inspire us to restore Grand Center into an area that better reflects its Grand history.


ArtHouse and the Grand Center Inn

January 12, 2010

Visiting the Rabbit in Strauss Park yesterday reminded me of a couple other projects in Grand Center that I was curious about.  The first was ArtHouse.

Art House Site

I first saw this advertised on Washington at least a year and a half ago (news broke over 2 years ago judging from this post on Ecology of Absence) and still haven’t seen any work done on the actual site.


This map makes the area look pretty busy (Grand Center does have a lot to offer but the map still seems misleading), but I noticed two of the dots right next to ArtHouse (9 and 25) are listed on the key as “Planned/Proposed” – fairly exciting.  Green dot  number 9 is listed as “Grand Center Performance Park (proposed/planned)” but I found no other credible references to this project.  It’ll be interesting to see if it ever materializes and I really hope it does.  The spot at Grandell Square and Spring could really use something.

Future site of a Performance Park?

Green Dot number 25 on the ArtHouse map is a spot that I have already seen put to good use in The Light Project.  It is the shell of the Church of God in Christ and is listed on the map key as “Spring Church and Garden (planned).”  This project is also referenced as “benefit[ing] from the Grand Center, Inc. Revolving Loan Fund” on Grand Center’s Website (under “Neighborhood Assistance Program”) where it is refered to as the “Church of God In Christ/Urban Garden.”  Last time I got a good photo here it looked like it was very much a part of the “Urban Garden” that makes up far too much of St. Louis City.

Urban Garden

Although I haven’t noticed any work on either of these two parks, a very exciting new addition has made it to this corner.  The Grand Center Inn, located in the renovated Meriwether Mansion, has finally opened beating out several other planned hotels in the area (Metropolitan building before Pyramid folded, Old Missouri Theater Building, Grand and LindellNew SLU Hotel, etc).  Despite the fact that the building appears to have no sign identifying it, it has earned a couple of positive reviews and has a pretty good looking website.

Grand Center Inn

Grandell Square is a great street and I am thrilled to see progress made and hear about possibilities that lie ahead.  The Sun Theater just up the street would be incredible to see renovated but it a treasure even in its current condition and sports some impressive ghost signs.

Eastern Facing Ghost Signs on the Sun

On Grand at Grandell Square is the Grand Public Art Plaza, a cool project which has had a couple of set-ups.  The current one is pretty cool with propellers and mirrors.

Grand Center Public Art

Grand Center is a very cool place and its Northern end around Grandell Square is really starting to look good.  I’m excited to see more progress.


Strauss Park’s Earth Rabbit

January 11, 2010

When I first saw this rabbit in Grand Center it was a little after Easter last year and I assumed that the rabbit was a temporary installation for the holiday.  Of course I was forgetting that Grand Center is the intersection of Art and Life.

Strauss Park Earth Rabbit

I was inspired to mention this piece here because of KETC and youtube.

Grand Center really needs more art projects but I love the few that are already there.  I have a few more photos of the rabbit here.


Grand Center Restaurants

December 22, 2009

Today I noticed on Sauce Magazine’s blog that a new Restaurant is to take over for Reggie’s Backstage at 522 North Grand in Grand Center.  This would be the third restaurant to move into this location since I was really introduced to Grand Center about 3 or 4 years ago.  I remember when the Tuxedo room opened (Late 2006) it seemed to be such a great thing for the neighborhood.

The Tuxedo Room

It was one less vacant storefront on a stretch of Grand that should be full of life.  Unfortunately, The Tuxedo Room did not last long.  I ate there once and was very unimpressed with the food (apparently I wasn’t the only one), so when it closed I hoped that was the reason.  Then Reggie’s Backstage moved in and seemed to be doing alright.  Their operating schedule was still based almost solely off that of the Fox Theatre, but the Fox really does bring most of the traffic into the area.  When I saw a sign on the door this summer saying that it was “temporarily closed” I wanted to stay optimistic but couldn’t help but worry.  Did Reggie not learn from the mistakes of Mr. Tuxedo?  Today I did some Google searches and found that Reggie’s had planned to close for 3 months and then reopen as an R&B venue but sadly something must have prevented this from happening. I hope the St. Louis Rhythm & Blues Preservation Society can still accomplish their goals and would love to see them reappear in Grand Center.

Grand Center Spring 2008

Luckily there are more optimistic St. Louisans willing to give this excellent location another chance and I wish Kota Wood Fire Grill success.  I hope they keep the Reggie’s Backstage sign up (unless they get a new one of their own!), but it is sad to see that the sign was only relevant for a short amount of time.  I think this will be a great opportunity for Grand Center to really take off.  The renovation of the Woolworth’s building appears to be a huge success and the murals on the Metropolitan Building really make the block seem more friendly.

Murals on the Metropolitan Building

In addition to Kota opening up, we also have The City Diner at the Fox which should be open by the end of the year in the Humboldt Building.  These new restaurants on Grand, along with delicious anchor of the block that is The Best Steakhouse, will provide for a diverse and delicious variety of dining options.  Now all we need is something to replace W. M. Shakespeare’s Gastropub in the location formerly occupied by Gary’s Restaurant.  Maybe another Art Gallery?

Update:  Grand Center now has a website for its restaurants!  But where is it listing the Best Steak House?