by Sarah Fenske
When Jason Paul and Thomas Eversmann co-founded Cherokee Street's Little Dipper (2619 Cherokee Street; 314-625-3230), it was the culmination of decades of friendship. The pair met even before they were high school students in Collinsville, Illinois, played in bands together and even shared a Hammerstone's connection: Eversmann bartends at the Soulard bar and grill, while Paul worked for years for soap business owned by the Hammerstone family.
But while the friendship remains, the partnership is kaput: Paul confirmed to Riverfront Times yesterday that Eversmann has left the restaurant.
Befitting a several-decades friendship, however, the split could not be more amicable.
"We're still involved in a few things together," Paul says. "We still play music together. He was just overextended between his real estate stuff and his job at Hammerstone's. And he wasn't going to say anything about it, so I brought it up to him." Eventually, that conversation led to Eversmann admitting that he just didn't have time to do everything he needed to do.
Paul has been the chef of the tiny sandwich shop, while Eversmann ran the front of the house and kept the books. So the menu won't change in light of the split -- but the hours will. Instead of being open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, Paul says, he's begun closing at 4 p.m. (He'll still reopen on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. to handle Cherokee's weekend crowds.)
"As this stuff started to unfold, I took a close look when we were making the bulk of our money," he says. "We're a sandwich shop, and that doesn't always translate well to dinner. We were starting to see an increase in those hours, but it was people grabbing an early dinner, a quick dinner. No one wants to sit down there for dinner with their loved one."
Last week, the first week without Eversmann, Little Dipper sales were down about 20 percent, Paul says. But it's hard to know whether to blame the nasty weather or the decreased hours. He'll continue to monitor the situation, and may adjust accordingly.
In the mean time, Paul admits, "Not having Thomas here obviously sucks for me." He's found himself with new appreciation for all his partner used to handle, from running errands to doing the books.
"I have a real learning curve with that stuff," he admits. "I really understand now why I liked doing the cooking."
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