While walking the aisles of the downtown Culinaria today you could not avoid the impression that corporate heavyweights were in town. Whether it was their crisp professional attire, taller than average heights, or the way they were all testing out the computer gadgetry in the food lines, it was clear this group was on some sort of field trip/fact finding mission.
Indeed they were. I asked a staff member what was up, whether there was a corporate meeting or gathering of grocery execs, and she said there was. Grocery professionals, colleagues from different companies around the eastern 1/3 of the US, were in St. Louis, checking out Schnucks stores with a particular interest in its Culinaria, urban grocery store model.
Cleveland and Kansas City have "Constantinos" markets, St. Louis has "Culinaria" and more and more old urban centers are getting their own cool varieties of downtown, full-service grocery stores. It's a sign that sustainable, urban-centered living is on the rise.
Standing in the Kaldi's line, I saw a friend of mine who lives 30 miles away and works downtown leaving the store. The Arch may be the symbol of St. Louis, but Culinaria is quickly becoming her crossroads.