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Meet St. Louis
37 minutes | Sep 20, 2021
Listener Favorite: StilL 630
StilL 630 is hidden in plain sight in Downtown St. Louis. The craft distillery is housed inside a former fast-food restaurant, but when you open the doors you're greeted by the team creating some of the best spirits in the entire country. Owner and founder David Weglarz started Still 630 in 2012 and since then has won award after award for their whiskeys, gins, and rums. Weglarz joined us on the podcast to chat about starting a business from scratch, their experimental spirits program, and how the collaborative nature of the St. Louis food and drink scene continues to lift everyone across the city.
30 minutes | Sep 13, 2021
Episode 157: Old Vienna and Red Hot Riplets
When I first moved to St. Louis, there was sort of a hidden gem in the snack world. It was a kind of local secret known as Red Hot Riplets. Now 10 years later, it’s no longer just a local delicacy. Over the last decade, Old Vienna, the makers of Red Hot Riplets, have expanded their reach, and their flagship chips have become a treat craved by people across the country. Things really took off when the company began selling products online, and suddenly the Red Hot Riplets seasoning was being shipped as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. From there there were shirts, flags, and even shower curtains with the logo emblazoned on it, all of which ship around the U.S. We sat down to talk to Elisha Shaffer, who has been with Old Vienna for 18 years. We chatted about the nearly 100- year company history, the big changes that made their products so popular, and what it’s like to watch a St. Louis staple grow into a sensation. She also tells a few stories of just how far customers have gone in the past to get their hands on Red Hot Riplets, and teases the return of a product that has been missing for a few years.
37 minutes | Aug 30, 2021
Episode 156: Lion's Choice
Our guest this week is Lion’s Choice CEO Mike Kupstas, and beginning tomorrow (Tuesday), they will have a limited-time collaboration with St. Louis staple Crown Candy Kitchen. It’s a team-up by two St. Louis favorites- yes, Lion’s Choice is from St. Louis- and It’s frozen custard, bacon, and only available for a couple of weeks. Mike sat down with us in the Brentwood location to talk about the history and pride behind St. Louis’ homegrown fast-casual restaurant, a restaurant chain he believed in so much he agreed to come out of retirement to be its CEO. We talk about how they make such a good sandwich every time, what goes into creating such a reliable experience every time you eat there, and where the franchise hopes to go next. The Crown Candy collaboration begins Tuesday, August 31, and will run for two weeks, so if bacon and frozen custard sounds like your thing, make sure you don’t miss out. If you just want some roast beef, there are Lion’s Choice locations in Illinois and Kansas, and plenty in Missouri, and if you live in the St. Louis area, there’s almost certainly one within a few minutes of you.
52 minutes | Aug 23, 2021
Episode 155: Edera and the Koplar family
Opened during the pandemic in 2020, Edera- which means Ivy in Italian- is the second restaurant from the Koplar Group. After owning and operating Scape for more than a decade, the family decided it was time to update the concept in the Central West End, and bring a different feel to the neighborhood restaurant. The first person you’ll hear from is Bob Koplar, who along with his brother Sam, has followed in the family tradition of taking big swings and making them work in the city they love. The Koplars are responsible for a few St. Louis staples, including the building of the Park Plaza Tower in the 1920s, which is known today as the Chase Park Plaza, the founding of the KPLR TV station, and the revitalization of Maryland Plaza. Bob talks about what that legacy means to him, Edera’s place in that story, and of course, brags about what he says is, hands down, no contest, the best patio in the city. We end our episode with head chef Andrew Simon, who sat down with us during crunch time to talk about balancing a menu that fits different types of diners, as well as keeping consistent experience while continuing to evolve and elevate the dishes people associate with Italian cuisine. Edera is open Tuesday through Saturday starting at 5 p.m. The dining room is open until 9 p.m. during the week and until 10 on the weekends, but they offer late-night pizza and cocktails on their patio until midnight Friday and Saturday.
41 minutes | Aug 16, 2021
Episode 154: Rootberry
More plants, more people, more often. That’s the goal of St. Louis’s newest food delivery company, Rootberry. Launched this summer, Rootberry delivers plant-based meals to your doorstep, no subscription required. For Marc Connor, Co-Founder and President of Rootberry, that last part was critical. The company- whose food I can personally say is delicious- and I’m mostly a meat-eater- doesn’t want to force anyone to change the way they eat. They just want to make it easier for people to eat plant-based meals, however often they want. Marc sat down with us to talk about why they believed they could build a company like this in St. Louis when so many others would try to start on the coasts. He also talked about the choice, and the fight, to do things a little slower and with a little more care, because they want to run their business based on ideals, and what it takes to make plant-based meals delicious and deliverable. For First-time customers who are listeners of Meet St. Louis, there’s a special offer if you want to try Rootberry. Through the end of August, if you enter the code MEETSTLOUIS at checkout, you’ll get 15% off your order. And if you do, you may just meet Marc in person. Even though he’s the president, he still hits the road routinely, delivering Rootberry meals himself.
35 minutes | Aug 9, 2021
Episode 153: Apotheosis Comics
For Martin Casas, owner of Apotheosis Comics, community has been at the forefront of his entire career. After years in politics, searching for leaders who could put on the cape, he decided to go directly to the people. Apotheosis opened in 2017, and since then has served as a spot for comic fans young and old, whether they are newcomers or connoisseurs. But for Martin, it’s always been about more than just a business. he adopted St. Louis as his new home, and has dedicated years to bringing the community together however possible. The combination bar and comic book shop is the epitome of that philosophy. It’s not only a gathering place for people of all ages, but Apotheosis hosts reading events for kids, organizes food drives, and Martin is always looking for however else his business can lift St. Louis up when it needs a hand. When COVID hit, they had to completely change their model, but the community they’d welcomed so openly came to them. Through social media, business grew so much that they’ll be opening a second location this month on Cherokee Street and Jefferson, in the location where Foam used to be. Martin joined us to talk about the growth of comics and graphic novels in pop culture, building a business on beliefs, and what it’s like to put on the cape- even as a small business owner. For comic book fans, a big date is just around the corner. August 14th is Free Comic Book Day, and Apotheosis will be ready for customers of all levels of comic fandom. Then a week later, their new location will have its soft opening. Head down to Cherokee and Jefferson to check out the new space, and maybe discover something new to fall in love with.
32 minutes | Aug 3, 2021
Episode 152: Urban Harvest
This week, we aren’t going inside, we’re going up on a rooftop. We sat down with Urban Harvest’s Jamie Wallace at their rooftop garden downtown to talk about the fight to bring sustainable food to St. Louis as well as strengthen the community as St. Louis grows together. Urban Harvest started in 2011, and now has more than a half dozen locations across the area, providing fresh produce to those without access, and working to create a network to help with food assistance throughout the city. As executive director, Jamie talked about education programs as well, helping to teach those who want to learn how to create sustainable urban gardening and spread the word throughout communities who want to build their own. Oh, and if you grow at home and find yourself asking “what are we going to do with all these vegetables?” Well, there’s an app for that. If you want to check out the farms, you can go any Saturday morning from 9-11:30. If you’re looking to start your own garden, there are some handy how-to guides on their website UrbanHarvestSTL.org. There, you can also learn more about how you can help, either by donating or getting involved yourself. There’s also a list of upcoming events, the soonest being a sit-down dinner hosted on their rooftop garden downtown August 7.
34 minutes | Jul 26, 2021
Episode 151: City Foundry STL
We are just weeks away from the long-awaited opening of the massive food hall at City Foundry STL. As part of St. Louis’s continued downtown rebirth, the Foundry is drawing national attention, even being mentioned in a Time Magazine article that named St. Louis as one of the world’s 100 best places. The Food Hall is perhaps the best symbol of the spirit of St. Louis, with 20 restaurants cooking cuisine from all over the world sharing one massive space and letting diners explore the diverse food scene in our city all in one room. We sat down with Susie Bonwich, the director of operations for the City Foundry Food Hall, to talk about what the space means to the city, what will come next now that it can finally get open to the public, and her pride in playing a part in St. Louis’ recent revitalization. If you are eager to check out the Foundry Food Hall, you’ll soon get your chance. The public will be able to explore the offerings on August 11, with 11 tenants serving food. From there, tenants and activities at the massive site will only grow as St. Louis continues to make its downtown a destination spot.
38 minutes | Jul 19, 2021
Episode 150: Seoul Taco | David Choi
How much would you gamble on an idea? For David Choi, founder of Seoul Taco, the answer was everything. Just out of college and working three jobs, he took his whole bankroll and went to the East Coast hunting for a food truck. What followed is a success story that took him from truck, to restaurant, to restauranteur, and recently featured Busta Rhymes on a stage celebrating a decade of success. David joined us from his new home in Chicago to talk about those last 10 years, and Seoul Taco’s growth from a novel concept in St. Louis’ emerging food scene to a multi-state franchise that has captured the attention of food-lovers everywhere. He talked about growing slow and growing smart, but also the unshakeable support our city gives to those starting out in any industry, and how that allows those willing to risk it all the courage to do so.
29 minutes | Jul 12, 2021
Episode 149: Missouri Botanical Garden
This week, we're actually going somewhere different. Not a brewery or a small business, but a beautiful oasis in the heart of St. Louis. The Missouri Botanical Garden has been around for more than 150 years. Established in 1859 and continuing to evolve right up to today, it is a living, breathing symbol of the city’s history; from the Civil War through its second worldwide pandemic. The beauty of the grounds, located on Shaw Boulevard, draws thousands of visitors annually, and the behind-the-scenes research discovers hundreds of new plant species every year. We sat down with Cassidy Moody, who has helped tell the Garden’s stories for more than five years, to talk about all the things visitors don’t see behind the scenes, the mission to keep pushing conservation efforts forward, and what it’s like to work in the most beautiful place in the city every day. Currently, the Botanical Garden is hosting Origami in the Garden, a sculpture exhibit running through October, along with Origami After Hours, through August. Japanese Festival returns this year and will be held September 4-6. If you want to volunteer- and what better way to spend some free time- you can check out opportunities at MissouriBotanicalGarden.org
43 minutes | Jul 5, 2021
Episode 148: The Greek Kitchen
For Lisa Nicholas-Kandel, the route to owning her own restaurant started small- with just a batch of Baklava. The classically trained dancer always liked cooking, but she never saw it as a professional path she was destined to walk. Then one day she made her now-husband Joe her Baklava, and he was so in love with the dish he told her, "You’ve got to sell this." Before long they were in several stores, and the couple was driving as far as Columbia to deliver it. From there it was one stroke of fate after another until the couple was in their current space on Kirkwood road. Lisa and Joe sat down to take us through the whole journey, from her time at Olympia, to Joe’s time running TJ Cinnamons locations and all the steps up to now- including all the hidden challenges customers may not know COVID caused. We also talk about how Joe finally got her to write down her recipes, and one of the strangest breakfast dishes you’ve ever heard of. You can always drop in for a taste og Greece at their Kirkwood location, and coming soon, a new spot just minutes away from the restaurant. Coming this August, the renovated Kirkwood Schnucks will unveil a new food hall, featuring The Greek Kitchen, Shaved Duck, and upcoming podcast guest Seoul Taco. Lisa said they won’t have the entire menu they offer at the full restaurant, but many of diners’ favorites will still be featured. The location off Manchester Road will also feature clothes from previous guest, Arch Apparel.
2 minutes | Jun 28, 2021
Welcome back to the Meet St. Louis podcast, the show taking you inside your favorite bars, breweries and small businesses. I’m your *producer*, JJ Bailey. I’m happy to report that since our last episode, Alexis is officially a new mom, and she, her baby boy, and her husband are all happy and healthy. As she begins her new adventure, she is taking a bit of time away from work to focus on family- as we all would. So, for a short time, I will be your host. Allow me to explain...
28 minutes | Jun 21, 2021
Episode 147: Fritz's Frozen Custard
The heat and humidity have arrived in St. Louis and that means summer traditions are here. For so many of us, that means frozen custard. This week we are taking you inside the family business of Fritz's Frozen Custard. Brothers Adam and Bryan Fritz are second-generation owners. Their family business started back in the 1980s when their pregnant mom had a big craving for frozen custard. Almost 40 years later and that decision to open a business has helped shaped summers for hundreds of families. With five locations across St. Louis and St. Charles County, you're not far from a Fritz's Frozen Turtle, the favorite among so many regulars. The Fritz brothers share what running a family business is like, the secrets behind frozen custard and their hopes for the future, including expansion and growth.
32 minutes | Jun 16, 2021
Episode 146: Katie's Pizza and Pasta
At Katie's Pizza and Pasta, family is everything for chef and owner Katie Collier. The restaurant would not have gotten off the ground without the support and push from her husband Ted and the help of generous donations through a Kickstarter campaign. Katie's love of Italian food and cooking is thanks in large part to her mom who moved to Florence for work and Katie followed. The introduction to the restaurant world comes from her aunt, restaurateur Zoe Robinson, who gave Katie her start in the business. And throughout this episode, you can hear how much Katie's dad played a role in shaping her life. He was her best friend, and his influence helps shape her live every day. In this long-requested episode, we sat down at the Rock Hill location of the popular Italian restaurant to talk family, food, failure, and frozen pizza. Katie shares the ups and downs of her career and the big dreams for the future.
28 minutes | Jun 7, 2021
Episode 145: Long Row Lavender Farm
About one hour outside of St. Louis, you can transport yourself to a lavender-scented oasis. Located in Wright City is Long Row Lavender. Tracy Smith and her family started the farm more than a decade ago as a way to connect with nature, but over the years, not only has the lavender grown, but so has the business. The start of June is peak lavender season, with those purple blooms shooting out of the ground. But it hasn't always been easy, Tracy Smith shares the adventures of growing a non-native plant here in the Midwest, and how they learned to incorporate it into everything from the lattes and the cookies in their cafe, to the bath and body products in their shop. And don't worry, even after lavender season ends, there are new things popping up. From zinnias to sunflowers, there's always something blooming, as is the Smith's family desire to create a destination for families to visit.
35 minutes | Jun 1, 2021
Episode 144: Companion Kombucha
Tom and Tricia Nieder looked at each other one day in 2014 and decided, "Lets start a kombucha company." Back then, kombucha, a fermented tea, was huge on the coasts but slow to make its way to the Midwest. Fast forward to today and you can find Companion Kombucha on store shelves all over St. Louis and around the region. They brew the craft kombucha in Overland and have continued to grow and expand. Tom joined us on the podcast to talk about the other side of craft brewing in St. Louis, how to make it at home, and why despite the growth, he loves getting out to the farmer's market each weekend to share with the more hesitant why COM KOM is different from other kombuchas.
34 minutes | May 24, 2021
Episode 143: Purina
Since 1984, Purina has been a pioneer in helping improve the lives of animals. It was founded by William Danforth as a feed company for farm animals, and for more than a century, it's called St. Louis home. Now, it's one of the largest global pet companies, but that hasn't stopped their commitment to St. Louis. From being the first founding partner for the new MLS team St. Louis City SC to giving back, it's a brand that means a lot to our city. So what's it like to work for a company like Purina? We sat down with longtime employees Dan Smith and Dr. Sheri Smithey, both leaders in research and development at Purina. We talk about innovation, the process of creating some of the products that have changed the lives of pets and pet owners, and the joy of working for a company where every day is bring-your-pet- to-work day.
35 minutes | May 17, 2021
Episode 142: Made. by Lia
Lia Weber grew up baking cookies alongside her grandmother and she has a distinct memory of making a lemon meringue pie around the age of 12. Many years later, she still makes a version of that pie, although this one is all made from scratch and flies off the shelves of her Florissant bakery: Made. by Lia. While baking has been a part of her life since childhood, it wasn't until she was crowned "The Next Great Baker" on TLC's hit baking show that her career took off. Business grew over the years until finally she knew it was time to cross another dream off her list, opening her own shop. COVID-19 delayed the spring 2020 opening but when she opened her doors in the summer, the community came out to support her in droves. Now they're busier than ever and as a mom of two young children, Lia is learning to balance the home and work life. It still leads to 16 hour days in the kitchen, but those hours are filled with love and passion. She continues to dream big, hoping to create a cookbook, a TV show one day, and right now, a new title: The Greatest Baker. It's an online competition taking place right now that could lead to thousands of dollars that Lia hopes to invest back into her employees and her Florissant community. Voting ends May 20, Vote for Lia: https://greatestbaker.com/2021/lia-holter
31 minutes | May 10, 2021
Episode 141: Golden Gems
The banners read, "It's a damn good day to give a damn," the coffee mug reads, "gutsy little lady," and the rainbow keychain reads, "you're magic baby." Each of the items inside the cheeky homegoods shop Golden Gems are meant to inspire and empower. That was the goal for sisters Amanda Helman and Susan Logsdon when they started the business as a side hustle. Now it's grown into their full-time jobs and they've grown so much they are moving out of their shop on Cherokee Street to a bigger location on Locust Street in Midtown. The sisters sat down with us to talk about growing a passion project into a career, the pivot into doing more wholesale, learning how to ask for help and what it's really like working side by side with your sibling. Golden Gems plans to open this summer on Locust, joining a growing number of new retail and restaurants in Midtown Alley.
30 minutes | May 3, 2021
Episode 140: Friendship Brewing Company
Brian Nolan has been brewing beer since college, well before the internet was filled with how-to guides. But it wasn’t until decades later that he would turn his passion project into a career; and it wouldn’t have happened if not for a push from his friends. Hence, the name Friendship Brewing Company. Now, the craft brewery located in Wentzville is celebrating five years in business. They’re one of the many breweries pushing the craft beer industry westward in the St. Louis area and they have big plans to expand their brewing operations as well as build the first craft distillery in St. Charles County. As a Wentzville native, founder Brian Nolan shares his ups and downs and his hopes for the future.
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