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Trio Of Restaurants Impacting Urban Renewal In Botanical Heights

A successful urban neighborhood is made up of several components, some of which are schools, restaurants and residential housing.

During the 1970s, when business owner Joe Edwards opened Blueberry Hill in The Loop, University City experienced a certain measure of renewal.  The well-known restaurant remains an anchor for that stretch of Delmar Boulevard.

Current examples of urban renewal through new restaurants include Cherokee Street and the Carondelet neighborhood in South City.

Botanical Heights is a near Southside St. Louis neighborhood, located just north of the Shaw neighborhood near I-44.

Formerly known as McRee Town, the once blighted neighborhood is experiencing improvement in recent years.

Chef Ben Poremba is the co-owner of three establishments that recently opened at the intersection of Tower Grove and McRee Avenues: Olio, a wine bar, Elaia, a fine-dining restaurant, and Chouquette, a patisserie.

Olio is located in a former gas station and Elaia is in a restored 1890s brick home.  The two buildings adjoin via an interior corridor.

For our monthly Soundbites segment in partnership with Sauce Magazine host Steve Potter spoke with Poremba, Brent Crittenden, of Urban Improvement Company, and Ligaya Figueras, a senior staff writer for Sauce Magazine.

The magazine’s food reviewer, Michael Renner, said of the restaurants, “At Elaia and Olio, urban renewal is admixed with renewed emphasis on worldly wines and foods of different cultures. Exquisite, indeed.”

Related Information

Olio – 1634 Tower Grove Ave., Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., Sundays from 11 a.m. to midnight

Elaia – 1634 Tower Grove Ave., Tuesday through Saturday, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m

Chouquette – 1626 Tower Grove Ave., Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m

Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.

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