Black Culture in the Gateway City
By Darralynn Hutson
St. Louis is the perfect place to relax and recover from the craziness of our unpredictable world. My daughter and I recently enjoyed a three-day adventure around St. Louis filled with good food, fun attractions, and shopping. During our visit, we were able to experience the Black culture and entrepreneurship throughout the city. Here are some spots you must visit in “The Lou.”
The Angad Arts Hotel is rich in colorful imagery. Each room has a designated color palette depending on the mood of its patron. The celebration of art and local talent can be seen in every inch of the property. My green room featured a number of specialty items like an umbrella, reading chair, and bold painting above the bed. The green represented my mood for a wealth of new adventures throughout the city. We also took the time to visit the numerous art exhibits throughout the hotel.
If you are looking for a good steak, stop by Prime 55. Prime 55 originally marketed itself as St. Louis’s new sexy restaurant experience, but the atmosphere has a homey vibe to it. The promise made by Orlando Watson and Tony Davis, co-owners and childhood friends, to their staff to continue to generate income for them and their families drove them to stay open during the hard times of COVID-19.
Relax with a peaceful yoga class with The Collective STL. The husband and wife team have created a safe space on the old north side of the city for Black folks to come and experience their yoga practice authentically. Offering classes, fresh veggies from their garden, and warm apple cider, this studio was a true breath of fresh air.
Pharoah’s Donuts in downtown St. Louis is the perfect spot for breakfast. Co-owners and father-daughter duo Amon Aziz and Syeeda Aziz-Morris have been bringing Pharaoh’s Donuts to close to 50 gas stations and corner stores in Missouri and Illinois for over 20 years. Their assortment includes old-school favorites like glazed donuts, cinnamon rolls, apple fritters, lemon-filled donuts, and more!
If you are interested in a perfect mixture of flavors from Tunisia, Mexico, and America, all plated into scrumptious breakfast and brunch dishes with refreshing cocktails, then the Egg is your place. Co-owners Lassaad Jeliti and Mengesha Yohannes (also co-owners of Bar Italia restaurant) seem more like brothers than business partners who work tediously to create a family atmosphere at their restaurants.
Get your shop on at Honey’s Child Plus Size Boutique! Owner, Letitia Young opened her boutique nine years ago and it became St. Louis’s first plus-size boutique. Honey’s Child was named after Young’s mother who, after the death of her husband, raised her children to be the best and lead by example. Her business has grown so rapidly that she’s created an online distribution center inside the CIC Building to house her current inventory and process her online orders.
BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups has been a part of the St. Louis downtown scene for more than 50 years. The kitchen makes hot catfish nuggets, the bar serves cold Budweisers, and the stage feeds your soul with your favorite R&B jams from the ’90s. The cover band Love Jones played the night I visited and belted out tunes by Jill Scott, Eric Benet, and Erykah Badu.
Olivia Ridgel, owner of C. Oliver Coffee + Flower Bar, celebrated her first year in operation in September. Decked in floral prints of soft pinks, white and yellow, Oliver’s Coffee + Flower bar is too adorable for words. Six months pregnant with her first child, yet still committed to carving out her own safe space, Ridgel created this coffee house because she didn’t feel comfortable anywhere else.
Catch up with Steve from the famous St. Louis Steve’s Hot Dogs. We enjoyed delicious hot dogs topped with bacon, cheese and hot peppers. Serving hot dogs with names like bacon, bacon Jamaican, prince Akeem, and donkey burger, Steve’s flavor-filled comfort food became a huge component to keeping his block afloat. Owner and operator Steve Ewing stated that he learned a lot about himself and learned how his hard work would contribute to the success he has seen during COVID-19.
Please support these local and black-owned businesses. You’ll be sure to feel the culture of St. Louis within these establishments.