by Nancy Stiles
Sister Cities Cajun and BBQ (4144 South Grand; 314-875-9653) opened in Dutchtown in June 2013, but they've got a second storefront that lays unused. Owners Travis Parfait and Pamela Melton plan to open the other 1,200 square feet as a bar -- albeit one where you shouldn't feel obligated to "get hammered."
"We're really trying to be involved in community development in this area. We live by Carondelet Park," Parfait says. "Look at Cherokee Street two years ago. We're trying to be as active in the development of the [Dutchtown] community as possible."
Unfortunately, Parfait doubts they'll have their liquor license in time for Mardi Gras -- a bummer since Sister Cities is a Cajun restaurant. The name comes from the couple; Melton is from St. Louis and Parfait from New Orleans, two cities that have obvious ties.
Parfait actually just inked a deal with his father to run fresh shrimp straight from his uncle and cousin's boats in Louisiana. He says it will go straight from the gulf to the truck to Sister Cities -- no processing plant in between. Sister Cities is also now accepting Bitcoin, one of the few places in town to do so.
"We're just trying to break the mold a little bit. We wanted to have a place that we enjoyed to go," Parfait says. "We want it to be an attractive place to be."
The bar itself is constructed out of old hardwood doors from around St. Louis, and they've enlisted a local artist to paint map of the mighty Mississippi on the top. "The Mississippi is kind of the lifeblood of North America, even pre-Europe," he says. "We have a boat on the Mississippi and we spend every moment on it we can."
Look for the bar to open in the next two weeks -- three weeks, tops, Parfait says. In the meantime, come for the authentic gumbo and Cajun food. You'll find no "pseudo-Cajun" at Sister Cities, and that's just the way Parfait likes it.