A new generation of entrepreneurs has invaded the inner-ring St. Louis suburb of Maplewood, and they have created one of the region’s most compelling collections of shops and restaurants, topped off by some unusual nightlife options. Geographically, we’re talking about just a few blocks, mostly along Manchester Road (7100-7400) and mostly on the south side of the street. The main shopping drag features a parking lot behind the storefronts where you can ditch the car and proceed on foot. Be sure to turn the corner at Sutton Boulevard for even more. But let’s start with breakfast.
Foundation Grounds gets the day going in its colorful, welcoming space with a large menu of locally sourced breakfast items, plus smoothies, coffees, espressos, lattes and cappuccinos.
Time for some retail therapy. The shopping here leans toward personal grooming and comestibles with a few outliers tossed in for variety.
At the far east end, Bee Naturals offers the Bee Naturals line of skin-care products for men, women and babies made with natural ingredients and intended (by their nurse creator) to have a specific therapeutic purpose. Plenty of gift items, and honey, too.
Maven specializes in its own line of hand-made, small-batch bath, body and candle goods using environmentally-friendly components and no paraben. Founder Kate Bethel, who began making soaps as wedding favors, goes in for memorable scent names like Little Black Dress, Don Draper and Cheap Date.
Men can get in on the act at Roughneck Beard Company, offering the complete—and I mean complete—product regimen for a full, lush, soft, vibrant, beautiful beard. Founder Brad Jackson blends, bottles and packages his full line of oils, balms, soaps and waxes and sells them both online and in his tiny storefront on Manchester Road.
With personal grooming under control, the palate seeks pleasure, and Maplewood is nothing if not a gourmand’s playground. Exhibit number one: Larder & Cupboard, purveyor of specialty foods from the St. Louis region, across the U.S. and around the world: crackers, liquor, preserves, sausages, cheeses and more.
Vom Fass (the Germany-based retailer with 300 stores around the world) specializes in liquid assets: oils, liqueurs, vinegars, spirits, whisky and wine, which you can sample before you buy. By all means, sample. The shop also hosts wine tastings, cooking classes, Scotch tastings and much more.
What Vom Fass is to liquids, Penzeys is to spices, offering an encyclopedic selection of pure spices, spice blends, spice mills, mugs, jars, books, herbs, extracts and more.
Kakao Chocolate makes and sells a splendid variety of, you guessed it, chocolates, in all its many forms and flavors. Great gift-hunting for those chocolate-loving friends.
You can score both baked goods and fair-trade coffee at the shared space of Great Harvest Bakery/La Cosecha Coffee Roasters. Turn the corner from Manchester onto Sutton and find two of the city’s favorite treateries: Pie Oh My! and Strange Donuts. Indulge.
Outside the personal grooming and comestible categories, Maplewood offers superb leather goods made on the premises at Sole Survivor, new and used books in the popular Book House, and fine art at Hoffman-LaChance Contemporary.
No visit to Maplewood should pass up the outstanding (and affordable) jewelry at The Silver Lady, the most recent expansion of the long-successful shop in the Central West End. Look here for bold, stylish designs you won’t find in malls.
Hungry? Options abound, but we can recommend Reed’s American Table, Maya Café, Acero, The Muddled Pig Gastropub and Schlafly Bottleworks, the rather large microbrewery that takes its food as seriously as the beer (plucking produce from its own garden and constructing seasonal menus to prove it) and hosts a variety of special events, like art fairs and farmers markets.