Meet Chris Goodson, founder of Fields Foods

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  Joe O'Toole Fields Foods Chris Goodson

Few would argue with CWEnder Chris Goodson (photographed with CWEnder Gwen Sims) who describes himself as a risk taker. Opening a 9,000 s.f. grocery store at the corner of Delmar and Euclid was risky business, but the decision was not out of the ordinary for Goodson, the founder of Fields Foods. Two other stores (and soon to be a third) are in neighborhoods Goodson describes as having few if any options to purchase fresh foods.  Though Aldi is at the corner of Kingshighway and Delmar, Goodson said, “We are not in competition with nearby grocers, we are filling a need.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” Goodson continued, “I want to make a profit, but I also want to help bridge the divide and drag the excitement from the CWE’s central corridor across Delmar to Fountain Park and beyond. This corner is the definition of diverse and we want to be part of that.”

Fields Foods is also committed to hiring employees from the neighborhood who can walk or take the bus to work.

During our meeting in the store’s dining area, Goodson added that Cullinan Properties, who renovated 625 N. Euclid (Fields Foods is on the ground floor) were fabulous to work with. The renovation of what is now called Lofts@Euclid into 87 apartment units was top-notch and now includes a tenant-only entry to the grocery store, touting the tongue-in-cheek (I hope) possibility of picking up a latté and hot breakfast sandwich or rotisserie chicken dressed in your pajamas. Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  Joe O'Toole Fields Foods Chris Goodson

Getting into the grocery store business was not on Goodson’s radar when he, his wife, and 4 daughters lived in Lafayette Square years ago (they have since moved to the CWE). He got into development fixing up abandoned churches and converting them into condos, and then tackled the renovation of the former City Hospital which was slated for demolition. The main hospital building was converted into 104 condominiums, an event space, a rock climbing gym and a facility for a catering company.

Goodson soon realized that the surrounding area, which includes the Darst Webbe housing project, lacked basic amenities such as a grocery store, and this might be a deterrent to the success of his project.

“Black, white, rich, or poor, everyone wants the same things. A roof over your head, food in your belly, and a feeling of safety,” Goodson said. Fields Foods, his 38,000 s.f. foray into the grocery store business in Lafayette Square, which opened in 2014, brought an amenity to an area that was blighted, and spawned the expansion of the business into other neighborhoods. A second Fields Foods opened earlier this year in Downtown West, followed by the recent opening of the CWE store, and very soon a 4th Fields Foods will open on the site of a former lumber yard in Dogtown.

Over the years Goodson has given back to St. Louis in other ways as well. In 2005 he was appointed to the Board of Police Commioners by Governor Matt Blunt, and he served on the board of the city’s Land Clearance Reutilization Authority for 20 years. He is currently a member of the 22nd Circuit Judicial Commission appointed by Governor Parson. Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  Joe O'Toole Fields Foods Chris Goodson

The CWE store was designed to evoke an old-fashioned corner grocery. The main section includes fresh produce, including lots of organic selections, a large carryout section, cheese case and a small selection of bulk foods.  There is also seating in the front window or at a counter (see top photo). Basics are toward the back of the store, see below left.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  Joe O'Toole Fields Foods Chris Goodson

Fields Foods’ CEO Joe O’Toole was able to fit everything the 38,000 s.f. Lafayette Square store stocks in the 9000 s.f. CWE store, just in smaller quantities. Goodson said that Fields Foods is known for its wide selection of craft beers.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  Joe O'Toole Fields Foods Chris Goodson

Most of the items in the middle of the store’s take-out section are made on site. Alpheia, above, is the pastry chef whose specialties are cakes and sweets for any occasion, see display case below. As you can see in the top photo, there is a coffee bar, beer on tap and wine available by the glass for those inclined to sip while they shop.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  Joe O'Toole Fields Foods Chris Goodson

Meet Glenn, a Fields Foods butcher, above. The store makes several flavors of seasoned bacon and sausages. I understand the chicken wings and rotisserie chickens are hot items at the CWE store.

 

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  Joe O'Toole Fields Foods Chris Goodson

Fields Foods has a large selection of wines, liquor and the aforementioned craft beers.

Improvements to come: Awnings have been ordered for the windows along Euclid and Delmar, which will help identify the store; parking should be available once again on the lot directly across the street on Euclid; and Fields Foods will be accepting food stamps (EBT) any day.

Cullinan Properties and Fields Foods have done a masterful job bringing new vitality to the southwest corner of Delmar and Euclid. There is a lot going on north of Delmar too. I have been reporting on that progress over the past year. If you missed one of those recent posts, read it here.

Fields Foods, 625 N. Euclid, (314) 944-2940. Open 7 days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

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