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Checking in with Juno Bridal proprietor Claire Ketterer

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News Uncategorized  Truville wedding gowns Theia wedding gowns Leanne Marshall Laudae wedding dresses Juno Bridal Claire Ketterer    When I first met Claire Ketterer, the charming, savvy proprietor of Juno Bridal in March 2017, it was opening day and she was comfortably optimistic that her shop would be a hit.  Some might have questioned her decision to locate the business at 4432 Olive Street, several blocks removed from the CWE’s main retail/arts district, but that hasn’t stopped brides-to-be from finding her. As Ketterer laughed and said when I visited again recently, “You’re not going to walk by a bridal salon and say, ‘I think I’ll pop in and buy a wedding dress.’ ”

When Juno Bridal opened, Bowood Farms was the only other retail establishment located east of Walton Ave. on Olive. Then late this summer St. Louis Art Supply opened at 4532 Olive, and Bowood Farms has just opened “Holliday,” located across the street from Cafe Osage and the garden center. The new shop offers an expanded selection of unique goods that customers have come to love.

All signs indicate that Ketterer’s early confidence was well founded and over the last 1 3/4 years the business has grown to be a huge success. Customers find Juno Bridal on the wedding planning website The Knot, on Instagram, by word of mouth—someone’s sister or a friend is a fan, or because Juno Bridal carries a particular designer’s gowns. Coincidentally, Ketterer, a former nurse, has many clients who are nurses at BJC.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News Uncategorized  Truville wedding gowns Theia wedding gowns Leanne Marshall Laudae wedding dresses Juno Bridal Claire Ketterer

Juno Bridal carries what Ketterer describes as unconventional wedding dresses, from boho-inspired styles to more classical selections created by a collection of 10 designers.  Most of the designers are based in the U. S., though one is located in Budapest and two are in Vancouver.  This is trunk show season at Juno Bridal. The website has a description of what a trunk show is and the complete schedule for the next couple of months.

It’s suggested that the search for the perfect wedding dress start about 8 months before the big day. The initial appointment at Juno Bridal lasts about 1 1/2 hours, and after the dress is chosen it takes time for the gown to be fashioned, shipped to the store, and then followed by fittings.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News Uncategorized  Truville wedding gowns Theia wedding gowns Leanne Marshall Laudae wedding dresses Juno Bridal Claire Ketterer

Wedding dresses range from $1,200 up to approximately $3,500.  Ketterer pulled a few of her clients’ favorites, including Laudae’s “Jasmine,” $1,925, the petal dress shown in the opening photograph.

In the photograph above left: Leanne Marshall’s “Gabrielle,” $3,370. Marshall is the winner of Season 5’s Project Runway.

Right: More brides are asking for long-sleeved dresses such as Truville’s “Allanah,” $1,995.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News Uncategorized  Truville wedding gowns Theia wedding gowns Leanne Marshall Laudae wedding dresses Juno Bridal Claire Ketterer

Left: New York-based designer Theia’s “Nima” $2,250, features a gown with a beaded bodice.  Right: There is a variety of traditional wedding veils to choose from at Juno Bridal or,

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News Uncategorized  Truville wedding gowns Theia wedding gowns Leanne Marshall Laudae wedding dresses Juno Bridal Claire Ketterer

a selection of rhinestone & ribbon hair vines, which range in price from $150 to $400.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News Uncategorized  Truville wedding gowns Theia wedding gowns Leanne Marshall Laudae wedding dresses Juno Bridal Claire Ketterer

In addition to building her wedding dress business, Ketterer has started tinkering with scents and dabbling in making her own perfumes, $32, and candles, $16, above. She’s given “The Juno Lab” perfumes names such as Good Juju, Fig, Yeah and Love Struck—bride or not, who wouldn’t want a little spritz of that?

The other big news at Juno Bridal is that Claire is engaged.  She and her fiance are living in the neighborhood and “loving it.” The wedding is scheduled for next fall, and the bridal shop proprietor hasn’t yet decided which gown she will wear, there are too many gorgeous possibilities.

Juno Bridal is open Tues., Weds., Fri., & Sat. from 11 to 7, Sun. from 11 to 5. The shop is closed Monday and Thursday. Book appointments online or email claire@junobridal.com.

West End Grill & Pub celebrates 10th anniversary

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  William Roth West End Grill & Pub Neill Costello Henry Arciniega Gaslight Theater Benet Schaefer Actors Studio

Any time I mention The West End Grill & Pub, people have something wonderful to say about it. Whether it’s the outstanding mussels (which I’ve been told patrons insist NEVER be pulled from the menu), or the welcoming atmosphere at the bar, WEGAP has been a favorite neighborhood haunt since it’s debut 10 years ago.

Knowing two of the four owners, CWEnders William Roth and Neill Costello (the other two are Henry Arciniega and Benet Schaeffer), it was not surprising to learn they are celebrating their 10-year anniversary by hosting a Friendsgiving next Wednesday, November 21. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the event will benefit No Kid Hungry, a national nonprofit campaign working to solve problems of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  William Roth West End Grill & Pub Neill Costello Henry Arciniega Gaslight Theater Benet Schaefer Actors Studio

 

WEGAP’s Friendsgiving dinner menu includes roasted butternut squash salad, roasted fresh turkey with mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts-bacon stuffing, cranberry relish, and pumpkin pie for dessert. The cost is $39 per person ($10 will go to No Kid Hungry).

To reserve your seat at the table, please call 314-531-4607.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  William Roth West End Grill & Pub Neill Costello Henry Arciniega Gaslight Theater Benet Schaefer Actors Studio

The restaurant is open daily for lunch, dinner, and brunch on Sunday. (View the menu here). When I stopped in for lunch recently, I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious house-smoked trout niçoise salad, $10.95, shown above.

The West End Grill & Pub hosts weekly events including Trivia Night on Mondays from 7:30 to 9, Steak Night on Tuesdays where each week a different cut of beef is offered at a special price, wine specials on Wednesday, and Oyster Night on Thursdays from 4 to 7 at the bar.

The restaurant adjoins the Gaslight Theater which makes it a perfect place to enjoy dinner before an Actors’ Studio or Cabaret performance, and gather at the bar afterwards to raise a glass to the performers you just watched on stage.

Succeeding in the restaurant business is extremely difficult, but it appears West End Grill & Pub has found the secret sauce. Here’s to many more anniversaries.

West End Grill & Pub, 354 N. Boyle, Open Sun. 11 a.m. to midnight, Mon. to Sat., 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., (314) 531-1607.

A seasoned Golden Grocer adds more spice

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer

Golden Grocer’s proprietor John LaRico, above, added a welcomed jolt of energy to his business last year when he hired dynamo Leah Cruz as manager. At 37 years in operation, Golden Grocer is one of the oldest businesses in the neighborhood. New Market Hardware tops the longevity list at 104 years. Left Bank Books comes in second at about 45. (LBB was located in U. City in its early years.)Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer

Golden Grocer opened in 1975 in a lower level space at 17 S. Euclid (underneath what is now the BBQ Saloon). LaRico soon expanded into an adjoining space where he opened a shoe store called The Foot Pleaser. In 1979-80 the business relocated and expanded into a 10,000 s.f. space at 4733 McPherson Ave., where Centro is now located.  LaRico asked if I remembered “Bern-Rico” which he opened next door, where he stocked everything Golden Grocer didn’t—meat, seafood, imported beers, wines, and a special counter for fancy cigarettes and cigars. There was a lobster tank, and a chef from Italy who prepared foods to go behind the deli counter. Other than the smokes, this sounds pretty wonderful, doesn’t it?

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer   Golden Grocer’s manager Leah Cruz, above, opened Vega Deli in Chesterfield and, in 2010, Pura Vegan in DeBaliviere Place at Pershing & Belt. Cruz created the raw foods served at Pura Vegan. She sold that business in 2012 (Pura Vegan Organic Cafe & Yoga is still open) and moved to California for a few years before returning to St. Louis and joining the team at Golden Grocer.

Cruz’s specialties include organic and gluten-free meals, desserts, and drinks. In the photograph above she’s holding a tray of her delicious homemade vegan, gluten-free chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. She is considering offering cooking classes at Golden Grocer in the future.

In addition to her work as a caterer and chef, Cruz has been a health, nutrition and wellness coach for the past 10 years. She became a vegan 20 years ago after learning she had cancer. She cured herself of the disease and has been cancer-free ever since. Cruz now counsels people with health issues, helping them switch to a healthy plant-based diet. She also offers reasonably-priced 3, 5, & 7 day meal plans which can be ordered a day in advance and picked up at Golden Grocer. You can learn more about the meal plans and her services on her website: Love ‘n Light Wellness.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer

One of the first things LaRico and Cruz collaborated on was the addition of an open kitchen and juice bar. They are now able to host events, giving local chefs and others in the community an opportunity to introduce their own natural foods and health and beauty products to the public. Information about an upcoming event can be found at the end of this post.

On the Monday I visited, Cruz had prepared a vegan, gluten-free menu for Meatless Monday. Usually Adina (not photographed) prepares the food on Mondays and for Taco Tuesdays. Food service is available from noon to 5 p.m., or until they sell out. A sample Meatless Monday menu follows:Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer

Ray Jon, above, runs the Juice Bar where he offers herbal drinks, smoothies, tonics, teas and juice cleanses.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer

Since the store has been rearranged I have rediscovered the herbal foods section, above, which is a great, inexpensive resource for loose tea, a large variety of dried herbs, and dried edible flowers such as lavender and rose buds.

This Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. Golden Grocer will host a Local Vendor International Pop-Up featuring Cruz’s Love ‘n Light Wellness and Cuisine, Theatre De La Rue, Adina’s Vegan Cuisine, Juicebox Rejuventation, Supreme Raw Organic, herbal smoothies, juices and elixirs, and Art by Carrie.

Golden Grocer, 335 N. Euclid, open Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer   Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., (314) 367-0405.