Jen Kaslow wants to bring a dog-friendly cafe to University City.
If Jen Kaslow gets her way, the corner of Midland and Olive in University City will become a dog and coffee lover's dream.
Kaslow, who owns Meshuggah Cafe (6269 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-726-5662) in the Delmar Loop with her husband David, submitted a proposal to University City's Department of Community Development to turn the blighted lot into the Dog Cafe, a gathering spot for coffee lovers and their furry friends. Their business plan was in response to the city's request for proposals to rehabilitate the city-owned lot and its existing building as part of the overall Olive Boulevard redevelopment effort.
For Kaslow, the opportunity is the realization of a dream. "I've had dogs my whole life, and when I moved here from Colorado, I found that St. Louis wasn't really conducive to bringing your pet with you to places," Kaslow explains. "There are limited places here where you can take your dog off the leash. Coming from Colorado, my dog was with me all the time, and here you can't do that."
The Kaslows were the sole respondents to University's request for proposals, which centered on the 1.64-acre lot at the northwest corner of the intersection. The city acquired the lot via its Tax Increment Financing Commission.
The couple envisions the lot and accompanying building as a coffee shop, dog park and community garden that will "satisfy dog owners seeking a place to spend time with their dog(s) in a comfortable, social setting." They hope to offer "numerous amenities for dogs and owners," including an extensive beverage menu, local baked goods, possible beer and wine offerings, dog obedience classes, coin-operated dog washing, a water feature and a viewing deck.
"We're thinking big, and if we have to, we can scale back," says Kaslow. "The whole back area is a flood plane, so we want to flood it and make it a big swimming area for dogs. We also want to do an outdoor s'mores area with a fire pit, have live music and turn the other part of the land into a large community garden."
The next step for the Kaslows is to participate in a public meeting this evening to discuss their proposal with University City residents. They will meet with the city council at the end of the month and also have to get additional bids from contractors to determine if their project is economically feasible.
But though the project remains tentative, Kaslow is optimistic. "We're far enough down the road with this that if it comes back as not being cost-prohibitive, we're excited," she says. "As long as we are going to be this crazy, we might as well go for it."
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