ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - The largest event held in Forest Park in more than a century has come to a close. In terms of traffic, parking, and safety, Fair St. Louis was a big success, but for businesses around the park, success was mixed.
Coffee Cartel Employee Jason Douglas says, “We did think it was going to be more chaotic because of the parking situation and everything, but they handled it and planned pretty well, so people just had to do more walking.”
All the extra foot traffic translated into big business for the Central West End coffee shop. Douglas explains, “They stopped by with their families and purchased lots of ice cream, lots of coffee drinks and everything, so we had a lot more traffic than usual.”
For the Cheshire Hotel, located near the southwest corner of Forest Park, the fair’s new venue couldn’t have been better. “The hotel was sold out all weekend long, so it was just a tremendous opportunity for us to be part of the community and be part of the events over at the fair. It was fun,” explains Tom Duca, Vice President of Restaurant Operations at Lodging Hospitality Management.
The Restaurant at the Cheshire had a food booth at the fair, and customers at the Restaurant and Basso were offered complementary Fair St. Louis parking. Duca adds, “This week at the restaurants, we actually doubled our sales from last year.”
But business wasn’t booming everywhere. At Sasha’s Wine Bar in DeMun, General Manager Kevin Bilhorn says they didn’t get the huge influx of customers they had hoped for: “It definitely affected business in the in-between times, when you knew the fair was really going on through dinner and things like that. We definitely got really nice pops afterwards, and filled up late night, which is always fun to see on a Friday or Saturday night.”
Other area business owners said the same thing, and felt the road closures were partially to blame.
Despite these complaints, traffic around the fair was mostly smooth. And for many area residents, the fair in Forest Park was a convenience they’d love to see again. Dogtown resident Peter Wiss says, “I think the city of St. Louis did a great job. I prefer it here, definitely.”
In terms of next year, it’s likely the Arch grounds will still be under construction, so fair officials hope to hold Fair St. Louis here in Forest Park again.
They’ll make the official announcement sometime within the next few months.