Sunday, November 25, 2007

Evolution of 97203

The heart of the 97203 district is along Lombard between Fiske and the ‘village’ of St. Johns. While there have been a few neighborhood gems – the beloved Mexican grocery store with restaurant in the back room, the St. Johns movie theater, the St. Johns bookstore, and Tulip pastry shop, there are WAY more of the KFC/DQ/Gas station/car dealership type places.

Last Saturday night, R & I attended the grand re-opening of Genuine Imitation, a small art gallery formerly located in Old Town specializing in pop art. After meeting the owner, Vincent, and his wife Cassie, I was so thrilled I could hardly speak. This is exactly what St. Johns needs: a low-key, unpretentious, hip space (that would also make a kick-ass party venue) full of wonderful fresh art. We bought some fab postcards from this local artist (, mingled a bit, had some wine, and listened to the DJ-ed music. It got me thinking about how many changes in the neighborhood have happened since we moved in just over a year ago. In that time, we’ve had the openings of…

  1. James John Café (downtown St J)
  2. Ladybug Organic Coffee (downtown St J)
  3. Legong gelato/dessert/wine (downtown St J)
  4. Little Red Bike café (Lombard & Fiske)
  5. Pastrycat (Lombard and Buchanan)
  6. Encanto New Mexican restaurant (Lombard and Portsmouth)
  7. Leisure pub
  8. It’s a Dog’s Life doggy daycare (downtown St J)
  9. Refind – fun, kitschy estate sale-type housewares (Lombard & Buchanan)
  10. U.S.E.D. – nice used clothing & household items store (Lombard & Ida)
  11. Atomic Daylight – designer clothing (downtown St J)
  12. Genuine Imitation (see above)

On the negative side, we’ve seen the addition of Christie’s – a crappy, pseudo-Denny’s restaurant that is mere blocks from our house. However, the good outweighs the bad.

Add these to Trixie’s Beauty Bar, Anna Banana’s, Proper Eats, John St. Café, Tulip Pastry, Greg’s Gift Store, and Orleans Candle Shop, and you’ve got some good stuff all within 1.5 miles of each other. The neighborhood is really coming along and I’m incredibly excited.


LeLo in NoPo said...

I haven't been to Used or Refind yet, but will soon. Have you been in to either?

I love Ladybug Organic Coffee: such a great space, and delish coffee.

I'm still holding out for Christie's to get it together. Knowing what that building used to be, and the potential it still holds, I hope they make it work.

What do you think is going on at Fishwifes? It looks like something is in the works there...

sarah said...

I popped my head into Refind & chatted with the owner last week. She's found some really cool stuff (at amazingly low prices) and she is planning on hosting craft classes in the upstairs portion. She's taking suggestions for classes now if you want to influence them...

What did Christie's used to be? In fairness, I've only been there once. But it was so bad, I can't bring myself to even give it another shot.

Haven't noticed anything at Fishwife - do you think it's being replaced by something?

Anonymous said...

Yeah St. Johns! I used to go to mississippi for good food and drink, now I don't have to leave the "village" My favorites are Proper Eats for a tempeh rueben, a movie at the St Johns cinema then beers or coffee at Anna Bannanas next door. I do wish we had a bit more retail thats NOT used, we could use a good outdoor store for those of us who like to hike/ski etc...

cassie said...

thanks so much for your kind words about our gallery. i randomly stumbled across your blog while surfing the internet today. we have a new show opening feb 9th. hope you can make it!
oh, and i'm putting a link to your blog entry on our blog:

thanks again!

sarah said...

thanks for the comment, cassie! looking forward to the next show - we will definitely come to check it out.