"Crown Candy is a St. Louis institution -- we've got to get there before the lunch crowd," Steve Patterson told me (for more on Steve, see my previous post). It's located in a North St. Louis neighborhood that features of mix of decaying properties and empty lots. But also signs of hope.
One constant beacon has been Crown Candy. Its loyal customers have never abandoned it -- as I could tell by the line waiting in front of us when we arrived at 11:30 -- and Crown Candy's never abandoned the neighborhood.
Steve and I split a hefty banana malt, and talked about the area. Steve lived in this part of town for quite a few years after arriving in St. Louis. As we walked out the door after lunch, we ran into Jane Smith who works for the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, an organization that has worked on neigbhorhood housing rehab.
[after our conversation, Steve took me to see some of the rehabs and new housing in the neighborhood; the two photos below should give you a sense of the type of housing that's going up]
But one big eyesore is what sits right across from Crown Candy: the 14th street pedestrian mall, built during the pedestrian mall craze of the 1970s. You can take a look at "activity" on the mall in the photos below.
All second floor space in the rehabbed structures will be residential, with the first floor designed so that it can be converted to retail if there's future demand for this.
One key element is putting the street back in. Steve feels this "de-mallification," as he put it, is essential to bringing life back to the street.
But one thing I'm confident about -- those banana malts will still be outstanding!
p.s., I received an email from St. Louis artist Jane Linders. She attached a copy of a "cyanotype" of Crown Candy that she did, and graciously is allowing us to post it. As with all of the photos & illustrations we post, if you click on the image a larger image will open.