by Nancy Stiles
Barry Kinder returned to St. Louis a few years ago after a stint in London as a musician. He was happy to be back, but he missed just being able to walk to the corner store and pick up fresh produce and everything he needed to make a healthy dinner. He began rehabbing buildings in St. Louis, and the idea to open such a place began to take root. After more than five years, he's finally opening East Grove Provisions at 3101 Arsenal.
"The main thing was to take a corner market and, like in Europe, have fresh produce, fruits and vegetables, and of course beer and wine and all that," Kinder tells us. "Basically sell provisions rather than go in there and get cigarettes and a bag of chips. That's what started it."
In addition to his musical skills, Kinder was a line cook and even a sous chef for years in London, which inspired him to add a lunch counter to the market. The menu will focus on sandwiches, soups and salads -- well-made classics, like a meatloaf sandwich or a turkey club.
He also hooked up with Red Fox Bakery, which helped him build a fire-brick oven in the back, where Red Fox will bake fresh bread. Grove East will also retail other Red Fox items. Kinder has installed some booth seating for the lunch crowd, influenced by places like Crown Candy Kitchen.
"It is something that I've wanted to do -- it's just always stuck in my mind since coming back to St. Louis," Kinder says. "I'm a single dad, and having something in the neighborhood that I could cook that's healthy [is important], rather than having to go to one of the big-box stores. That's always been a bit frustrating."
Kinder says licenses have delayed Grove East Provisions' opening, but right now all he's waiting on is signage. He has applied to the city's facade program for some help paying for it, but after three months waiting, he may just have to do it himself. Either way, Grove East Provisions will open in April, hopefully in the next two weeks.