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Aug 21, 2014
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Early Morning Drinking at Joyce's Corner
By Steven Fitzpatrick Smith
Posted On: 03/04/2002   

Early morning bars are not uncommon in St. Louis. Many bars in the industrial areas of town attract a healthy crowd after the third shift, and it is typical to see a watering hole open at 7am. But there's at least one bar that goes right to the job site for some.

Inside the central corridor of Soulard Market, tucked in near the butchers and spice shop and bakery, is an unexpected, non-traditional drinking establishment called Joyce's Corner‹a peddler of spirits that offers one of the city's most interesting bar experiences. You don't need bartop trivia machines or pool tables when you can buy Amish candies or a live chicken while drinking a beer.

The distinctive sign, fluorescent lights, and the absence of bar stools (a ledge in the hall serves as the "bar" during the commotion of Saturday morning shopping) are part of what makes the place different. But it's the bustle of the market itself that adds a whole new dimension to the social millieu of Joyce's.

Soulard Market is an anachronism in some ways, with the domination of supermarkets, yet it thrives as vital resource. It is very rustic, yet it continues to fulfill its mission of providing food to the public. The poor can get food at a greatly reduced price, yet the affluent flock there because of the rich selection and quality of what's offered.

Like the market shoppers, the patrons of Joyce's Corner begin to gather early in the morning, some for a straight jolt of caffeine from a morning cup of joe, others opting for coffee that offers a little extra octane with a shot of Irish Cream. The clientele is the kind of diverse crew you'd expect in Soulard. A young professional pressed-shirt Soulard resident may be sipping a spiked coffee while commiserating with a disheveled, bearded produce hauler, who's knocking back a cold Busch before the onslaught of the morning rush. Even the popular guitar/banjo street performer who hangs out at the end of the northwest wing, has been known to take advantage of the liquid inspiration for his performances. Because of the bar's unique location, the livestock salesmen or the hawking produce men are part of the bar's atmosphere, even if they are not imbibing.

In addition to draft and canned beer, the Corner offers "afternoon style" drinks like pina coladas, daiquiris and margaritas at reasonable Soulard prices. And crowds of market shoppers‹as well as off-duty vendors‹flock to Joyce's to order from the bar's selection of brats and eggs. (There's also a brisk business in lotto tickets.)

There is something very right about being able to have a bar experience‹sipping on something that gives you an extra kick‹while you enjoy the busy life of Soulard and do your marketing. It's a pleasant, harmonious contrast, typical of Soulard Market, and of this bar, where everyone is welcome.

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