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Restaurant Owners In Ferguson Unite, Seek To Return To Sense Of Normalcy

Sauce Magazine

While the turmoil in Ferguson has switched from the death of Michael Brown to the police presence and now back to Brown, the area's residents are trying to return to a sense of normalcy.

Among them are several locally owned restaurants and businesses, which are "vital to communities," said LigayaFigueras, executive editor of Sauce Magazine, for our monthly SoundBites segment.

Many of the restaurants along Florissant Avenue in Ferguson decided together to close on Monday.

"We just wanted everybody to focus on them and not on us being open," said Mike Lonero, who owns Ferguson Brewing Co., Cork Wine Bar, Vincenzo's Italian restaurant and the Corner Coffee House. 

Since then, though, restaurant owners said the community response has been positive.

"Employees have been, I mean, fabulous," Lonero said. "They don't have to come in, but they've been choosing to come in. I haven't had one employee call and say they won't be here because of the situation. They're proud of where they work and they're proud of the city they work in."

Jerome Jenkins, who owns Cathy's Kitchen Restaurant & Diner with his wife, Cathy, said a group of residents created their own restaurant crawl earlier this week.

"There was a group of ladies that live in Ferguson that made the conscious decision — they started at 8 in the morning, and they ate something at every restaurant on this street until 9:30 at night," Jenkins said. "That just shows you that the residents were determined to make sure that everybody on this street stayed open and succeeded."

Jenkins is opening a second restaurant on Florissant Avenue in March, J&C Barbecue and Blues.

In addition to restaurants, Figueras said the Ferguson Farmers Market will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

Straub's grocery store, where Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden works, also has set up a memorial fund for the family.

Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.