St. Louis' 250th birthday isn't the only milestone of the year: Plenty of area businesses are celebrating 25, 50, 100 or more years of service to local customers. We congratulate them on their decades of success!
New Market Hardware Co.
Since 1914, New Market Hardware Co. has been providing supplies and tools in the Midtown area. Owner Steve Schneider explains that the century-old business came into his family by way of Oscar Brand, who purchased it from the Dugan brothers in the mid-1920s. Later, Brand sold the business to his sister, Bess, and her husband, Harry 'Dutch' Schneider (Steve's grandfather). Schneider says his father, Gene, joined New Market Hardware shortly after World War II, and he has been involved since 1981.
Unique photos of 'Dutch' can be seen around the store. "He was the deputy athletic commissioner for the state of Missouri for a period of about 15 to 20 years; it was more of a figure-head title, but it did require that he go to all the sports venues for wrestling and make sure they were in compliance with licenses and the like," Schneider says. "He always made sure to get plenty of pictures of himself with all of the different wrestlers."
When thinking about the future, Schneider says that his business—like any other business—has to constantly reinvent itself to stay relevant to its customer base. "In our case, our customer base is primarily commercial and industrial customers," he says. "And they don't have a lot of time to send their people all over town to procure supplies, so they rely on us to come up with the materials that they need to get their jobs done in a timely fashion." New Market Hardware maintains multiple delivery drivers to make sure customers receive much-needed supplies as quickly as possible.
"Most other hardware stores tend to be mostly self-serve, and we try to have a sales person help each person that comes in to the store," says Schneider. "It's a little more expensive to operate that way, but…it helps to develop a more personal relationship with our customers."
Saint Louis Club
The Saint Louis Club is ringing in half-a-century later this year. Helane Bernath, the private dining club's director of marketing and membership, says the anniversary celebration will be one of the biggest events the club has ever held. All three floors will hold food stations, such as a sea island buffet and a pulled-sugar station, as well as live music. Five guests chefs will be in attendance, offering exciting culinary experiences for all invited.
A Saint Louis Club 'museum' will be displayed on the 14th floor, and will contain information about the founders, the club's beginnings and the like. The evening will wrap up with a balloon drop, complete with prizes. Bernath says that gala chair, Dr. William Sasser, and his committee have been working on this celebration for the past year.
The Saint Louis Club underwent a major renovation in recent years, but still maintains the traditional, luxurious ambiance members would expect, Bernath says. Thanks to its location atop the Pierre Laclede Center, members and their guests always enjoy sweeping views of St. Louis. The anniversary event is scheduled for Oct. 18.
On March 1 of this year, Ladue Florist celebrated 35 years under its present leadership. Current owner Marianne Przetak purchased the shop in 1979, but the business was started in the early 1960s by Dorthy Borgers. "I've worked with so many wonderful customers over the years, and have met so many lovely people," Przetak says.
Przetak recalls a memory that particularly stands out among the 35 years of business. "Several years ago, when the Saint Louis Art Museum hosted Art in Bloom, the theme was the 1904 World's Fair. Our staff created a 9-foot floral clock that was reminiscent of the clock that was planted in Art Hill at the World's Fair," she says, adding how rewarding it was to see her staff work together to create such a fabulous result.
"Over the past 35 years, Ladue Florist has included many different personalities, and we've all learned a lot from each other as we worked hard together," Przetak says. "I'm grateful to all the individuals who contributed to our growth and success. The future continues to be challenging. We continue to strive to provide superior service, quality products and an exciting shopping experience—and to stay connected with our regular customers, and find new ones."
The Art of Entertaining, 20 Years
Ann Lemcke was working with her brother at his catering company, Butler's Pantry, when she began to notice a lot of requests for small orders, such as a single casserole. "The small stuff wasn’t something we did," Lemcke says. "I knew immediately maybe this would be a good fit for me."
Lemcke opened The Art of Entertaining in 1994. "I started with myself, a chef and a dishwasher." Originally, the store sold items for entertaining, as well, such as platters and candles. "Very quickly, I found out nobody wanted those things, and that they wanted food. The food part started growing and the other part went to the wayside," she explains. "Here we are, 20 years later, and we have 18 employees and we sell our food in three different stores." In addition to catering, the company offers carry-out breakfast, lunches and dinners.
The Art of Entertaining's current location in Webster Groves is easy-to-spot, thanks to its unusual color: pink. "When I first painted the building pink, I had people who literally took a petition through the neighborhood saying, We want that color changed," Lemcke says. The petition was unsuccessful—apparently, one man even explained that her white bean chili was too good to petition against—and Lemcke says the color really got people talking about her company.
Lemcke notes that most of her staff has been with the company for more than 10 years. "I feel really fortunate to have a wonderful staff who really cares about the product, the Art of Entertaining and people having a great meal. My success is not just because of me, that's for sure." The official anniversary is Oct. 21. Lemcke says the company will offer promotions, tastings and giveaways throughout the entire month.
Other area businesses celebrating a milestone anniversary in 2014 include:
McCarthy Holdings, Inc., 150 years
Bethesda Health Group, 125 years
Forest Hills Country Club, 50 years
Left Bank Books, 45 years
Sunshine Drapery, 45 years
Abeles and Hoffman, P.C., 35 years
The Fitness Edge, 30 years
Café Manhattan, 25 years
St. Louis Rotisserie Restaurant & Catering Co., 20 years
Growe Eisen Karlen LLC, 5 years
St. Louis Fetal Care Institute, 5 years