St. Charles Main Street business owners taking matters into their own hands to keep people safe

FOX Files

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – North Main Street St. Charles is quiet and quaint until about 11 p.m. when it’s lately turned into something that resembles Mardi Gras.

We’ve shown you how busloads of people from the St. Louis area pile into the streets to wait in line to get into the dance clubs. Those clubs agreed Wednesday to temporarily suspend dancing and their DJ music to quell the crowds.

All three dance clubs are within sight of each other in a section of North Main between Jefferson and Clark. Woven in between them are businesses, amid the late-night chaos, offering alternative entertainment.

One of them is opening Friday – an alcohol-free entertainment venue called The Mocktail Lounge.

“There are a lot of millennials who are choosing this over alcohol-fueled bars, purely for health reasons or for school reasons,” said co-owner Jessica Lener. “They don’t want to wake up hungover.”

Lener, who’s a registered nurse, partnered with biomedical engineer Brandi Schmidt. They met at a 12-step program.

“It was really getting frustrating not having anything fun to do with that nightlife feel; music, food, something tasty to drink,” Lener said.

They’ll offer all of the above in their 1940s style sober lounge.

“We are really here as a welcoming, safe, fun place for people to be able to come where they don’t have to be around alcohol for whatever the reason,” she said.

About a block away, you’ll find Novellus, which is in their second week of operation.

“We’re not looking for a bar crowd. We’re a restaurant that has a bar, not a bar and restaurant,” owner Joe Ancmon said.

Ancmon said upscale old-fashioned cocktails—sometimes smoked—are just part of what they offer.

“We’re looking for a dining novel experience,” he said. “We do serve alcohol, but we do it responsibly. Something we’re not selling for a bucket for $5.”

He believes a diverse palette of businesses can shake North Main Street’s reputation as a party zone.

“We’re not done yet. We’re looking for a couple other adventures on Main Street as well,” Ancmon said.

Other changes to combat the floods of people coming from St. Louis include music limitations. Music will have to be turned down to what’s called “restaurant-level volume” starting at 11 p.m. every night. To make up for the added restrictions, St. Charles is now allowing more people inside establishments in the three-block stretch of North Main from Jefferson to Clark, increasing capacity restrictions from 25 percent allowed inside to now 50 percent capacity.

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