Neighborhood Spotlight: Benton Park

Every month I, Patricia Kilbride, vow to take on and explore a new neighborhood of this quirky, vibrant, beautiful city and bring my reporting back to the you, the young and upcoming of St. Louis. The ultimate goal? To expose the hidden gems this incredible city has to offer, and motivate all of us, whether born-and-raised St. Louisans, or transplants like myself, to break out of our comfort zones and explore all the wondrous nooks and crannies this place has to offer.

I first came upon Benton Park in the days of my (f)unemployment. When I was bored and restless I took long meandering bike rides around South City, and one day I came upon this cozy little neighborhood nestled beside an adorably petite park: Benton Park. The historic brick homes of the neighborhood stack alongside each other, one consecutive block after another. The halcyon charm of it all still makes me swoon. Despite its residential reputation (the neighborhood originally served the demand for housing employees of the breweries) Benton Park is sprinkled with some of St. Louis’ most delightful dining, drinking, and dilly-dallying destinations. If you’re looking for a cozy community to wander, Benton Park may just be the place for you.

1. Blues City Deli

One word comes to mind when I recall my trip to Blues City Deli: AUTHENTIC. Are you over chain sub stores? Look no further than Blues City, where the staff is happy and helpful, and the sandwiches are classic and crave-worthy. Don’t let the line deter you - it moves quickly, and the grub is worth it.  If you're feeling adventurous try one of their famous Italian po' boys, like the Muffuletta. (Vegetarians, don’t fear, they have a whole menu section for non-carnivores too).


Picture the eclecticism of City Museum, mixed with the comfort of your favorite dive bar. Venice Cafe is weird, yet cozy, blaringly vibrant, yet mellow and welcoming. My friends and I went for happy hour on a Friday and the deals were phenom - basic beers and mixed drinks all under $2.50 (CHA-CHING). There is live music every night, plus, the woman behind the bar suggested a revisit in the warmer months when the large patio opens-up out back, complete with The Jerk Shack, “famous for jerk chicken since 1989.” You know I will be back here come May.

3. The Lemp

The Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center, or more coolly know as just “The Lemp,” is an experimental arts and music organization adjacent to Cherokee Park. Just a block from where the ole' Lemp Brewery sits, the space doubles as a performance venue and art gallery, and operates as a non-for-profit (music to my ears). You won’t find booze at their performances, but you will meet passionate fans and experience raw musical talent in a stripped-down environment. Check out their website for upcoming gigs!

4. Shameless Grounds

A standout from most of our favorite trendy coffeehouses, Shameless Grounds distinguishes itself with a strong socially progressive stance. The coffeehouse prides itself on being a “sex-positive” environment. No, that does not mean they welcome ~adult behavior~ within the shop, and yes, I recognize that this might not be everyone’s cup of tea (pun intended). But the ultimate message is this: Shameless Grounds is a warm, safe, and radically inclusive environment that serves to foster and promote conversation, community, and acceptance (something we could all use a bit more of). I recommend checking out their sizable free library containing everything from saucy erotica to enlightening academic literature, and picking up some free condoms on your way out.

5. The Mud House

Brunchers, rejoice for this South City dining haven! Students and real-worlders alike should make the pilgrimage to the corner of Cherokee and Illinois to caffeinate and carbo-load at this laid-back coffeehouse extraordinaire. Breakfast is served all day (need I say more?) and its eclectic vibe is guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing.

6. Benton Park

There’s no Benton Park neighborhood without Benton Park. Though it’s quite chilly outside, and our window of outdoorsy time has significantly shrunk, Benton Park should be on everyone’s list for a springtime visit. Fun fact: Natural limestone caves are hidden beneath the park and neighborhood (originally where brewers stored beer!). Rumor has it that, before it was sealed off, an entrance to one cavern used be in the park! Who wants to go spelunking!?

Neighborhood Spotlight: Downtown

Neighborhood Spotlight

Ya’ll ready for this? Introducing Full Circle’s newest blog series: Neighborhood Spotlight. Every month I, Patricia Kilbride, vow to take on and explore a new neighborhood of this quirky, vibrant, beautiful city and bring my reporting back to the you, the young and upcoming of St. Louis. The ultimate goal? To expose the hidden gems this incredible city has to offer, and motivate all of us, whether born-and-raised St. Louisans, or transplants like myself, to break out of our comfort zones and explore all the wondrous nooks and crannies this place has to offer.

St. Louis is an unusual city in that “Downtown” isn’t the obvious place to live, socialize, or work for many young people. In fact, I might go so far as to argue that if it weren’t for the Arch or Busch Stadium many of us would rarely go Downtown. As I drove down Locust Avenue with my Full Circle supermodels we lamented the abandoned lots and empty warehouses. The architectural dignity and character of many of the historic brick buildings is contrasted by their state of neglect. But don’t fear: Downtown is on the rise.

For a good part of the last fifty years a major revitalization effort has been underway to regain the spirit and bustle of a hoppin’ Downtown. Amazing bars, restaurants, and tourist attractions alike are popping-up on the reg. Want to check out this neighborhood on-the-rise, but not sure where to start? That’s what I’m here for. I researched and personally visited all of these hotspots and am bringing my recommendations back to you.

1. Alpha Brewing

YUM. The beer here is unique and delicious. I recommend getting a flight of the Beta brews. I had never tried a sour beer before, but I think I have a new favorite beverage. On top of that they have this rad loyalty program: the more beer you drink, the better prizes you win. Rumor has it that on your 1000th (yes ONE-THOUSANDTH) beer, the brewery will throw you a free kegger. Start drinkin’ folks!

2. CityGarden

As someone who works at an Art Museum, the thought of children climbing on sculptures horrifies me. This was before I checked out CityGarden and rediscovered the absolute joy of just climbing on stuff. Why did we ever outgrow playgrounds? Whether you’re looking to crawl into a bronze head, discover a new artsy space, or just want a chill spot for a picnic, I highly recommend visiting the CityGarden.

3. St. Louis Public Library

Regardless of whether or not you like books, you need to check out the Saint Louis Public Library Downtown. The building is honestly breathtaking – and even though it’s over 100 years old, it’s totally decked out with wi-fi and our usual 21st century amenities. Also – I’m not sure how many of you have forgotten how a library works, but the stuff is FREE. You can just borrow books, movies, music, etc. for FREE. Say goodbye to your Kindles, Netflix, and Spotify. Go to SLPL!

4. Schlafly Tap Room

You can’t live in St. Louis and not take pride in Schlafly beer. Whatever your opinion on beer is, Schlafly as a brand rocks, and the Tap Room downtown has seen it all. When they opened in 1991, their beer was only available on tap at this one location. Now it’s blown-up, and people from coast to coast are guzzling down Schlafly. My personal fave: Grapefruit IPA. Check it out and all their other varieties at this Downtown gem.

5. Start Bar

Cancel whatever you're doing this weekend and go to Start Bar, STL’s newest adult arcade. Immediately upon entering my friends disappeared into the sea of arcade games. When I caught up with them they appeared to be in childhood bliss, eyes glued to the neon screens. I experienced the same moment of nostalgic joy when I saw the Nintendo 64 lounge areas. This place is every 90’s kid’s dream. Oh…and there’s a bar.

6. The Gateway Arch

Cliché, right? But actually, the Gateway Arch is incredible. At 51 years old the Gateway Arch remains the tallest man-made monument in the Western hemisphere (take that, Washington Monument). Not only is it just physically impressive, but the arch itself is also an engineering masterpiece.

Even today the monument is still inspiring innovation: the Arch grounds, including the Museum of Westward Expansion, are currently undergoing massive renovations to make the National Park (yes, it’s a National Park) and the museum a more open, interactive, and accessible experience. BONUS: next month CityArchRiver is unveiling an awesome new ice skating rink (for the first time ever) during “Winterfest at the Arch.” SO, if you haven’t been down to the arch in a while go check it out, and give it a thank you from all of us for putting our lil’ Midwestern city on the map.

As my models and I left, following an afternoon of laughs and significant civic pride, we lamented the misconception of Downtown. There is SO much happening on those city blocks that goes unrecognized. So people, GO DOWNTOWN!


Esther Koh: A Traveling Innovator

Esther Koh is a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis where she studied Environmental & Energy Science and Finanace. St. Louis has been her home for 5 years now, but she was raised throughout Asia and Europe before coming to the United States. Currently, Esther works as a research biologist at AB Biotek, a division of AB Mauri and will be back at WashU in the Spring to start her Master's Degree in Chemical Engineering. Esther's love for culture shines through in her vibrant personality. Full Circle sat down with this Young & Upcoming and learned about her nomadic past and love for our diverse city. 

Social Handles: LinkedIn - Esther Koh

why you?

I am some of the true diversity that people talk about. I think the biggest strength in my life is my open mindedness. I have moved around to different countries, and my family is multiracial and multicultural. My background helps me meet new people or new groups without having certain stereotypes. I think this makes me unique, and it has helped me through my journey. When I moved here I was by myself, and I really had to reach out and ask people for help. I would love for St. Louis to try to attract more people like me, people who are open to inclusion and diversity.

why now?

Well, it's my first year after college. I think that's always a special time. I'm now in the real world, and there is nothing holding me back. At first it was really difficult transitioning from a college student to a full-time working adult who has to take care of herself. The first day I moved to my new apartment I was just thinking, "I don't know what's going on, and I really hope I can make it." It was a little scary at first, but now that it has almost been a year I am loving the freedom. I feel like the true owner of my life right now, and I can build whatever I want. 

why stl?

To me, St. Louis is the perfect city (besides the public transportation). I love sports. Sports are a big part of my life, and St. Louis is a great sports city. I love the outdoors. Missouri overall has so many hiking trails, and St. Louis has Forest Park. The people here are just friendly. I like the art scene. I LOVE the food scene which is one of the reasons why I love the Central West End. I think there is a great combination and balance of everything that I want from a city. Some people say it's not as vibrant or dense as New York or San Francisco, but I think there's a benefit to that. You don't feel as trapped here or the pressure to be a certain way. You can be who you want to be!

why full circle?

I feel like keeping young people in St. Louis is the beginning and end of everything for the city. It's what drives the growth and innovation. Full Circle is making partnerships with corporations and connecting students which will make a big difference. I was surprised by how many great companies are in the city. I didn't find this out until I starting working on my senior project at WashU. It's essential to build the bridge between the amazing STL companies and the young talent in this city. 

Making the most of the 9-to-5 grind

Hooray, we’ve entered the world of full-time jobs! Most of the time we can pay our bills, buy groceries, and even spend money on sporadic social outings – congrats, we’ve made it!

For those of us working 9-to-5, there are tons of things to be excited about: financial independence, not to mention recognition and compensation for our talents. But, as the magic of landing our first “adult job” wears off we’re stuck with eight-hour days of staring into a computer screen, doing tedious tasks that feel less than awe-inspiring, and evenings feeling drained from responding to supervisors’ and co-workers’ demands. Truthfully, work sometimes just feels like a big ole’ soul-sucking dementor. Fortunately, many 20-somethings feel the same exact way.

To help save your soul here is some advice you didn’t ask for. Kayla, who spent the past year working in the St. Louis tech world, Mariana, a spunky artist and university employee, and I, Patricia, an assistant at a non-profit, are here to offer up insights into keeping your cool while working the 9-to-5 grind.

1. Focus on the good parts of the job

Everyone has parts of their job that they simply don’t like. But hopefully there are a couple parts of your job that you do like. Focus on the good parts. Ask your supervisor to give you more assignments in that realm. Chances are if they value your work they’ll want to make sure you’re challenged in order to keep you around.

2. Network

Okay, so this gig might not be your dream job, but make the most of it while you can. If you’re lucky enough to be in the field of your choice network and get to know your superiors. Ask them about their careers – I guarantee they’ll be happy to chat about their life stories (because who doesn’t like to talk about themselves). In exchange you’ll get some invaluable guidance regarding your own career and really important connections that may come in handy down the line.

3. Keep the venting to a minimum

Complaining about your job to roommates, family, and friends, might seem like the obvious way to blow off some steam, but too much venting isn’t a good thing. If you’re finding yourself in full-winded rants about how Becky in accounting jammed the printer, you’re probably taking things too far. According to my therapist who sees too much of me, venting actually leaves people feeling aggressive and promotes negative thought patterns, which, in short, makes you a pain in the butt for those around you. Kayla’s take: “Distancing myself from upsetting situations usually does the trick. Reading a book, going to the gym, or playing with a friend’s pet helps me get my mind off of work.” And a personal footnote: numbing acts like drinking, netflixing, or eating can feel super fun, but don’t really help you process feelings.

4. Take what is yours!

Mariana says: “Don’t feel guilty taking the breaks and perks that you deserve. Sometimes I feel guilty taking my vacation time, which is ridiculous.” If it’s a benefit you’ve earned, treat yo’ self. That includes taking lunch breaks, sick time, and, yes, especially vacation time. You’re no use to anyone if you’re a brain-dead over-worked zombie.

5. Remind yourself that this is only your first job

Your first job is just that, a starting point for the rest of your career. It’s not going to be perfect, so take a deep breath. Mariana’s advice: “Remember, getting our first 9-to-5 job is an accomplishment. Be proud of that.”

6. Socialize after work

I am terribly introverted. And a lot of the time nothing sounds better after a long day of work than vegging on my couch and binge-watching Girls. But don’t do it! Mariana: “Make plans for fun things to do after work so you have something to look forward to. It’s so easy for me to come home after work and feel like blah. Plan ahead so you can’t bail.” Humans need socialization; it reenergizes us. So just promise me you’ll do it even if you don’t always want to, okay? It’ll make your day feel more complete and satisfying.

7. Get inspired!

If there’s ultimately no way work’s going to spark your fire, find something outside of work to get involved with. St. Louis needs the energy and participation of its young energetic citizens, so get involved in the community, work on something that feels bigger than yourself, and work to make St. Louis an even better city to live in.

Mayor Slay Welcomes Young Change-Makers to Discuss Our Beef and Toast to Being Part of The Solution

By Diana Zeng

When asked what Beef And A Toast is about, we revealed that this civic engagement program was born out of frustration. Frustration with the fact that as students and twenty-somethings, we’re told that the problems in St. Louis are over there. Or that they aren’t that bad. Or that things are so bad that we should get out as soon as possible.

Mayor Slay's welcome at last night's Beef And A Toast: Be A Young Change-Maker said a lot about this city. St. Louis is a place where you can make a difference. As long as you're willing to listen and learn, you can get close to the issues and to the people leading the change. You can find yourself a part of the change. Frustration during this election cycle, in particular, has been sky high so we wanted to channel that into self-empowerment. With Young Friends of Downtown, we brought together students, recent graduates, and young talent to T-REX from near and far to connect on the topic of change. No matter what our backgrounds or professions may be, we can all find ways to make a difference in our local communities paving the way for change on the national and global scale.

Our panelists exemplified how change and community engagement come in many different forms - through photography and storytelling with Lindy from Humans of St. Louis, through policy and entrepreneurship with Jake from St. Louis Strong, and through advocacy and support with Caroline from OCA, St. Louis. Most of all, everyone in attendance proved something even greater. We recognized that every city has its issues and opportunities to make an impact, and St. Louis is no different. But what sets St. Louis apart is how it welcomes young people to take part in changing its future - and it's a city brimming with the young talent to do just that.

Attendees had the opportunity to follow up with the organizations on the panel and register to vote if they haven't already. If you would like to learn more about the organizations, check out Humans of St. Louis, St. Louis Strong, and OCA, St. Louis.

Get in touch with Full Circle at if you would like to get involved or support their initiative in building a more economically vibrant and inclusive city.

DJ Chris Brown: Offbeat Engineer

DJ Chris Brown is evolving into one of the top DJs in the St. Louis area performing at places like Wheelhouse, Three Sixty, and other STL favorites. Chris is originally from the Chicago suburbs, but has lived in the St. Louis area since attending college at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Chris graduated from SIUE with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but his love for music and skill as a DJ put him on a path much different than his formal education degree. Full Circle met up with Chris and talked about how he's taking the STL DJ scene by storm.  

Social Handles: Website - & Instagram - @deejaychrisbrown

why you?

The fact that I am a full time DJ, and I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I think it's interesting that I can always go get a mechanical engineering job, but it's not something that I think I want to do. I like what I do now, and I am good at it. Right now I am part of two national booking agencies. One is called Scratch Music Group, and they're out of New York. The other is DEFTAL, which is located in Vegas. I am also part of a local booking agency. I have a large client base that ranges from sororities to cruise ships. I also recently received St. Louis Magazine's A-list award. My motto is to never be satisfied. I want to meet more people, make more connections, and create new possibilities for others and myself.

why now?

I have finally found my stride. The past two years have been really good. I have been DJing for 10 years, from the time that I bought my equipment until now. When I first started pursuing DJing as a career, it was a struggle. Now, I think that my hard work is paying off. I have met a lot of really cool people, and I have built strong relationships. A lot of the old DJs that I've looked up to are starting to see me as a peer, and the new crop of DJs that are coming up view me as someone with experience that they can ask questions to. I now have valuable advice to give, whether it be creative suggestions or advice on how to drive business.

why stl?

I am from Chicago, and I love Chicago. St. Louis has often seemed small to me, and I have found it challenging at times because of limited opportunities. But the fact that it is small has helped me in my career. It has allowed me to build better relationships with the people I work for, which I appreciate a lot. I've thought about leaving St. Louis but every time I do, something better happens. Something new comes along and that makes it exciting to be here.

why full circle?

I like the idea of Full Circle, a group of young people bringing young people together. The networking aspect of that is very appealing. It's not often that I get to meet young people of sound mind at work. Having the opportunity to learn something or perhaps teach something to a peer is exciting to me.

Austin Smith: Skyscraper Enthusiast

Austin Smith is an upcoming senior at SLU majoring in Business with a double concentration in Entrepreneurship and Economics. He is also part of the Service Leadership Program, which means he completes 300 hours of service over his 4 years at SLU. Austin is a St. Louis native who is not afraid to take risks when he is truly passionate about a cause. Full Circle sat down with Austin right outside of SLU's campus to talk about his entrepreneurial spirit and his mission to spread that spirit throughout the St. Louis community. 

Social handles: Twitter - @austinmilesmith & LinkedIn - Austin Smith

Why you?

I'm working on projects within the SLU community and in the Greater St. Louis community of entrepreneurship. At SLU, I have been pushing creating an entrepreneurial environment for students over the past year and a half. I want students to believe that anyone can be an entrepreneur, not just the entrepreneurship majors or people like Mark Zuckerberg. Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to current resources which for me means perseverance. It's people who want to make a difference and don't care that it might not seem like a good idea, but they are going to make it happen anyway. That mindset can be applied to business, but it can also be applied to nonprofits, politics, or a social movement. There are so many things it can be applied to. I want to introduce this to students at SLU. I have done this by helping to re-brand SLU's entrepreneurs club. It was just me and one other student in Spring 2015 and now, Fall 2016, we have a major event with up to 200 students in attendance. We are also starting student run businesses through an organization called Billiken Ventures, and the university will actually invest in our organization to start these student run businesses. I have also been pushing for an innovation center where students can work on problem solving and fostering new ideas. In the community, I work on a few different projects on my own. One is a product development company, and I also work with a medical company out of SLU's MEDLaunch accelerator program.  

Why now?

I simply have the drive. I don't think being young is a reason to hold back and try to wait for an opportunity. I want to pursue the opportunity myself. I see things that need to be changed, or I see things that would be a neat business or experience, and instead of saying "that's something that I would like to do later in my life," I just simply think "I'm going to do that now." Being young doesn't change my drive to make the world a better place.

Why STL?

St. Louis has a lot of challenges, but to me they are opportunities. Opportunity for growth when it comes to business and the lives of the people who live here. It's the perfect place to be if you want to make a change. If you go to New York or L.A. you might not be able to make as big of an impact. In St. Louis we are struggling both economically, politically, and in many other ways. Our generation gets the opportunity of making this city a better place and leaving our mark on the world in the process.

Why Full Circle?

Full Circle is beautiful because it creates the connections between young people. Young people have the drive to make the changes in St. Louis. There is so much value in the collaboration of two people who have the same drive but different expertise who take up the challenge of making St. Louis a better place. Teams combine the best of individuals, and that's what Full Circle helps with. 


Liz Gerard is a Junior Investment Research Analyst at the Commerce Trust Company, a lover of all things Cherokee Street, and an inspiring member of theTEDxGatewayArch team. Liz moved around frequently while she was growing up and attended a total of three high schools. She has lived in St. Louis for 6 years, the longest she has continually lived in one place, and is committed to making St. Louis even better. Full Circle chatted with Liz in the Central West End to talk about her connection to St. Louis and her determination that never lets a challenge pass by (which includes assembling any piece of Ikea furniture).

Social handles: Instagram - @liz_a_girard & Twitter - @midwerestless


I come from a unique background. I moved often during my childhood and rarely felt like I had a hometown. My mother got sick when I was in middle school, and I was fortunate to have grandparents who adopted me. I was in the foster system for several years before moving to college. When I reflect on it, I'm proud to have built my life here without much parental support. As far as where I am now, in addition to working at Commerce, I'm on the TEDxGatewayArch team. I do marketing and social content for our annual conferences. I'm also active in the Benton Park West neighborhood organization, which is where I live.


Right now is an exciting time for me because the world is my playground. I've been figuring out where I fit in and what I have to contribute, and the process is so rewarding. Sometimes I'm reminded that I have so many options. I could pick up and move my life anywhere because I'm young and I don't have a lot of financial commitment to St. Louis, but it's also exciting that this is the longest I've been in one city.


I love St. Louis because I feel like you can do a lot with a little here. It's nice to say that there is a place for people like me in St. Louis. The entrepreneurial community is very welcoming and the people that choose to stay here believe in the city and want to see it grow. I've thought about going to San Francisco or Seattle, but I wonder, what is my place?, what can I bring to this city?, and I haven't been able to justify moving anywhere else.


Full Circle makes you feel like you have more at stake. You're more invested. When I moved here, I never associated the city with innovation of technology. St. Louis has recently gotten a lot of negative media attention. I'm glad Full Circle is exposing young people to what is really here, beyond the media's perspective. 

Megan Magray: Freelance Photographer

Megan Magray is an upcoming senior at Wash. U. majoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with a double minor in English Literature and Communication Design. She is currently a TV Development Intern at Coolfire Studios and a Photography Intern at ALIVE Magazine. Megan grew up in Tampa, Florida, but was drawn to St. Louis because of the region’s friendly Midwest vibe and fell in love with its creative business environment. Full Circle sat down with Megan at Kaldi’s Coffee, a spot she visits often to edit photos, to learn more about this Young & Upcoming photographer.

Chi Doshi: Nerd with aspirations to be Iron Man

Chi Doshi is a recent alum of Saint Louis University, a fan of Cardinals baseball, Blues hockey, and yes, even Rams football. He just celebrated his one year anniversary at Boeing as a structural loads and dynamics engineer. Talk about adulting! Full Circle sat down with Chi at the Saint Louis Science Center, the place where Chi begged his parents to take him every Sunday as a child, worked at for three summers, and may have even sparked his love for engineering, to get to know this Young & Upcoming STL native.

Introducing Beef And A Toast, A Fun & Funky Twist to Civic and Student Engagement

Introducing Beef And A Toast, A Fun & Funky Twist to Civic and Student Engagement


No meat involved, but there will be a toast!

We're rolling out Beef And A Toast as a series for young people to get to know the city and have an honest and intimate discussion with the people leading the civic and social changes they're passionate about. Every city has its issues, or as they're lovingly called, opportunities. St. Louis is no different, and it's a city that wants you at the center of these opportunities to make an impact. Your voice and actions matter, and this city knows it.

12 Local Gems in St. Louis To Explore Before You Graduate

12 Local Gems in St. Louis To Explore Before You Graduate

This city is full of hidden gems that we explore on our CITYTREKs, but with graduation just around the corner, we made a bucket list for you to explore on your own. These local establishments are run by people who love this city and make up St. Louis’ charm and grit. Even if you're graduating, it's never to late to get to know St. Louis!