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The Scoop: South Grand, Clayton restaurateurs and community regroup after day of tension, protest

November 25th 04:11pm, 2014



Restaurants and businesses in the South Grand district are cleaning up after sustaining damage late last night, Nov. 24, following the protests near Interstate 44 and Grand Boulevard. People assembled in the Shaw neighborhood there after St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch delivered the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Volunteers gathered today to collect paint and supplies to decorate the boarded up businesses, encouraging people to support their community through patronage and online donations.

Natasha Bahrami, owner of Cafe Natasha’s, located at 3200 S. Grand Blvd., said nine of the restaurant’s windows were shattered around 12:40 a.m. Bahrami said she was across the street at the time of the incident. “We have too many windows and it was a prime spot to get hit,” she said. “Mom and Dad are a little bit hurt about it, and of course, I am too, but we’re going to make it through this one.”

Bahrami said the support from community residents and the Tower Grove East Neighborhood Association was overwhelming. “As I was coming across the street, (TGENA members) were already coming to clean up the glass,” she said. “The support we felt immediately made me feel better.” Although the restaurant is currently boarded up, Bahrami said Cafe Natasha’s would will be open for business today.




Dave Bailey, who opened his second Rooster location last month at 3150 S. Grand Blvd., said people also broke 10 or 11 large windows at the restaurant, though nothing was stolen from inside. “I boarded up the entire façade (this morning.) I really didn’t want to,” he said.

Rooster closed an hour early last night, but despite the damage, doors opened this morning to welcome diners for breakfast. Bailey plans to resume business as usual unless circumstances warrant otherwise. “We’re getting quite a show of solidarity from the neighborhood,” he said. “If we have to close early, we will make that call on a nightly basis depending on what’s going on … Obviously the safety of my staff is my primary concern.”

MoKaBe’s, located at 3606 S. Arsenal St., served as a safe space for Shaw protestors, where they gathered before and during the protests. Calls for comment to MokaBe’s were not immediately returned.

Other restaurants that reported damage include Baida at 3191 S. Grand Blvd., Saint Louis Bread Co. at 3114 S. Grand Blvd., Basil Spice at 3183 S. Grand Blvd., and King & I at 3155 S. Grand Blvd. While all are open for business today, some may close early depending on circumstances today.

Meanwhile, Clayton restaurants are regrouping after many closed doors early yesterday, pending the grand jury announcement at the courthouse in their community. The Wheelhouse co-owner Stephen Savage closed his sports bar after lunch service yesterday, citing safety concerns for customers and employees. “Staff and customers: they are the two most important aspects of our business,” he said.

Chef-owner Gerard Craft noted similar concerns when he opted to close Pastaria and Niche, both located in the Centene building in Clayton, along with his two CWE restaurants, Brasserie and Taste. “It’s really important to keep all our employees in mind. We have close to 200 employees that live in all parts of St. Louis. Whether protests or difficulty getting around, there were a million reasons to close,” Craft said.

After a night of tension and unrest in Ferguson and St. Louis’ Shaw neighborhood, Pastaria and Niche remain closed today, Nov. 25, along with other restaurants in the Centene building, Cantina Laredo and Kakao. Other Clayton business district restaurants closed today include The Crossing, Bocci Bar, Mad Tomato, Half & Half and Companion.

Some Clayton eateries did open today, including Barrister’s, Avenue, Barcelona, Sauce on the Side, Remy’s and Five Star Burgers. The latter kept its regular hours of operation yesterday as well. “I’m not one to close my doors. I think it’s important to stay open,” said owner Steve Gontram. “I’m not going to fold under pressure and close my doors … I’m going to stay open and be a business that serves the community and, of course, be cautious and lookout for the safety of my employees.”

While the Thanksgiving week is typically one of the busiest of the year for restaurants, several owners noted that business had slowed in the week’s leading up to the grand jury’s decision. “We’ve had fewer pre-Thanksgiving orders than in the last 10 years,” said Companion owner Josh Allen.

After much discussion among themselves, most Clayton restaurateurs anticipate returning to regular hours tomorrow, Nov. 26. “We’re all in it together,” Allen said.

Click here to read how the Ferguson community regrouped after yesterday’s events.


Catherine Klene and Ligaya Figueras contributed to this report.




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