Our First Trip to a Soda Shoppe

*Memories documented by DSLR and iPhone.

From those who know me well, they will be the first to tell you that I am 100% an old soul. So it probably won't come as a surprise to you that Blake and I and two of our dear friends, Clayton and Kelsey, coordinated a trip to St. Louis about a month ago based solely around visiting a vintage soda shoppe.

When we arrived at Crown Candy Kitchen, the oldest soda shoppe in St. Louis, there was already a line out the door. People were smiling and chatting cheerfully as they waited to enter. A musician sang and played near the crowd, gently swaying and bobbing his head to the beat. The sounds of Jamaica drifted through the chilly winter air, warming all of us up a little. Crown Candy Kitchen originated in 1913, and they are famous for their sundaes and BLTs. We all knew right away that we were eager to try those two menu items.

Inside was all 1950's vintage. A large glass counter full of homemade candy greeted us first, followed by small white booths for seating, and finally the soda counter. This place truly brings out your "kid-at-heart." It was a bit overwhelming to make a final decision on what we would like to try, because everything in the candy counter and everything on the ice cream menu board looked amazingly delicious! But after we reached our little cozy corner booth with the old jukebox, we ordered BLTs and Crown Sundaes to split. Kelsey and I had to split our BLTs because they were so big!

After lunch we decided to visit a few of the breweries around STL, starting off with Schlafly. The tap room was inviting, with large windows that allowed the natural sunlight to pour in. We ordered sampler rounds of drafts to taste a little of everything. I was a huge fan of the coffee stout, while everyone else enjoyed the wheat drafts and IPAs. The lounge at Schlafly was the perfect place to chat and catch up!

Next, we headed to Charleville. This brewery originated in Ste. Genevieve, where Clayton and Kelsey are from...so it was only fitting to visit a slice of their hometown! When walking inside, everyone was smiling and wearing Hawaiian shirts. They told us that they had just finished up a luau, and many of their signature drinks for the day were Hawaiian themed. Maui is my home away from home, so I was really looking forward to taking in the atmosphere. Film footage of a surfer was projected on the west wall, and I especially loved the industrial emerson light bulbs suspended from the ceiling. Lazy summertime music played overhead, while distant sounds of the skee ball machine in the game room clanked and dinged in the background.

It was on to The Hill for dinner. If you have never been to The Hill, it is a small community filled with Italian restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and mom and pop shops. It is colorful and charming and 100% authentic. We chose Charlie Gitto's for supper. This restaurants felt very sophisticated and classic, with dim lights and a warm atmosphere. The waiters moved about the room like clockwork, flowing to and from tables gracefully. Guests were all smiling and chatting, and I often heard the clanking sound of wine glasses. Most of us ate pasta for dinner, while Blake enjoyed pizza. It was truly the best pasta I had ever ate!

The day ended with decaf coffee and tea at Kaldi's Coffee. We were sad that our day-trip had come to an end and that we would soon be heading home, but it had been a wonderful day: full of great food, stories, laughter, and new memories made!

Kelsi Kliethermes