The development boom in Forest Park Southeast continues, with Golden Grocer taking over and rehabilitating the former K9 Athletic Club building at 4501 Choutaeu Ave. Currently operating in the Central West End, the Golden Grocer offers plant-based food and smoothies, as well as a food subscription service intended to make consistent healthy eating easier.
The Golden Grocer will expand their operations with their Forest Park Southeast location, slated to open in October of this year. Plans include 2500 square feet of space with 18 foot ceilings to accommodate a cafe and bulk section, which will include bulk herbs and spices. They will also offer produce, grocery, and beauty aisles to complement the cafe. Their website also includes that their space will be open to various vendors offering plant-based food, adding a unique element to the open-concept space. Developments in St. Louis that operate with more than one food vendor are rising in popularity, from the City Foundry to Urban Eats in Dutchtown.
The Golden Grocer is extensively rehabilitating the building on Chouteau, as can be seen in the rendering above, contrasted to the old structure depicted just below. This location has been something of an eye-sore for the neighborhood, which effectively served as the entry to the community from the Central West End and Barnes-Jewish Hospital complex on Taylor Ave.
Much like the Drury buildings falling into disrepair closer to Kingshighway, this property has presented a false image of the Forest Park Southeast and Grove neighborhoods. They contrast the thriving retail corridor on Manchester, which is seeing new commercial and residential spaces added at an incredible pace. This addition to the neighborhood will begin to resolve these contrasts, while also contributing to the character the the community with a unique and modern offering.
While the Golden Grocer represents a new healthy offering to FPSE, it also introduces a Black-owned business to the neighborhood under the leadership of Jamila Owens-Todd. There are concerns, many of them reasonable, about the segregation of wealth in St. Louis. Forest Park Southeast and the Grove have enjoyed incredible growth, and seeing that at least in some way that the fruits of that success are shared in the community is something to be proud of in a neighborhood with a rich heritage of diversity and pride. Owens-Todd is also utilizing a local designer, Mwanzi Co., to bring about her vision for this space. This is the kind of local, neighborhood-level development that thriving neighborhoods should seek out and welcome.