Just a few short years ago, when I worked as an intern at Dutchtown South Community Corporation, a humble coffee joint (Java Joe's) and a pair of small antique shops were about all that a once vibrant stretch of Meramec Street could claim. The one true anchor of the business district was Winkelmann's Drug, a pharmacy open since 1913 at the southwest corner of Meramec and Virginia. Java Joe's closed for good soon after I completed my internship. While I'm not 100 percent certain, I believe the antique shops are by appointment only, or have random hours otherwise. The street was clearly not at its best.
Today, the story of Meramec, and the overall outlook of the street, is much different. A dedicated group, the Downtown Dutchtown Business Association, or DT2, is working to attract businesses to the neighborhood commercial district. So too is recently elected 25th Ward alderman Shane Cohn.
The Java Joe's space, and, I believe, another short-lived coffee shop, gave way to Urban Eats, Dutchtown's best little cafe and hangout spot. Urban Eats is cozy and has an innovative concept: couture wraps and pizzas. Their food is made to order and exactly to your liking, from the type of bread on up. They also have a really nice retail shelf of Dutchtown and St. Louis-related items. Urban Eats must be given credit for infusing Downtown Dutchtown with the right energy level and a sense of creativity and community all at once.
Twice Blessed Resale Shop, across the street from Urban Eats, is a not-for-profit store run by the folks behind Our Lady's Inn, which serves homeless women in the St. Louis region. The staff is friendly, its wares somewhere between free and dirt cheap, and its profits help keep the shelter afloat.
Twice Blessed Resale Shop
Another newcomer to Downtown Dutchtown is the Virginia House, an art gallery sheltered in a diminutive brick Dutchtown storefront that was vacant for quite a while.
UPDATE [5/21/10]: Reader Maude has informed this blog that the Virginia House is no longer an art gallery, but will soon be home to a boutique produce market, which will accept EBT and WIC! Awesome! Reader Dan tells us not to fret over Virginia House; they're looking to expand because their first two events were too big for their space! All around great news!
Pre-renovation shot, from their Facebook page.
And post-renovation, shot in artsy Polaroid, also courtesy of the Virginia House Facebook page.
Here's a nice photo of the outdoor gallery space as well:
The newest kid on the block, though, is Refabulous, a consignment shop. Definitely worth a visit for its incredible prices and great selection of men and women's clothing, the owners are delightful as well!
I have a pretty trustworthy feeling that we'll see more movement on Meramec quite soon.
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