Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The sleeping union station

Almost two years ago, I wrote about the decline of food locations in the St. Louis Union Station.  http://tasty-magazine.blogspot.com/2011/09/loss-of-good-food-places-in-union.html It is much of the same but perhaps a bit better now.  I am sure that everyone has some memory of going into Saint Louis Union Station and seeing it busy with shops, shoppers and restaurants.

One of the worst sites, is seeing a large sign indicating an area known as Pullman Market, which was opened in 1881 by the Pullman Palace Car Company.  The  market was used as an open air market for items and foods for travelers to get on the way to their train and their journey.  As I wrote about last year, I complained at how the station was THE place to go and be at the time.  Now, it is empty.  I know that the manager of PR emailed me and felt that I was basically performing treason against St. Louis by suggesting that this "world visited landmark" actually be nothing but a flea market, homeless shelter and a hotel on the far end.   But that is what it is, or was.  St. Louis Union Station really is not a world visited landmark and with nothing there that anyone would be willing to visit or see from anywhere around the world, even 15 minutes away, I just feel like it has been betrayed by the owners.  The owners and people who run this place have the ability to make it THE place to go, once again, but choose not to.

Anyway, this time, I did notice some changes.  First of all, the hotel last year was a chain hotel and now the hotel is called "The Union Station Hotel", which is fine, I guess.  They still have the ballrooms and they still have the rooms overlook most of the interior and exterior of the station.  I think that it is a cool idea and maybe someday I'll get a room and see what it is like in there.
There is a nice sign up now, saying what food places are inside and the fudgery is still there, albeit operated by a single person who does not singing or dancing.  Here is the thing though, Landry's Seafood House and the Hard Rock Cafe' are outside of the station.  They are technically within the parking lot of the Union Station.  So, you don't even have to go inside.  I don't see this as a boon to the station because if they want people to come through, now they can stay outside and not even come in.

The Einstein Bros. Bagels place is no where near the other food areas but on the first floor, near the hotel rooms and mainly for the people staying at the hotel.  But all of those other places are located in the food-court area, on the second floor.  There are a few places to the one side and then chairs and tables on the other side.  What I saw, was no one eating there.  I saw some people sitting near each other chatting and on their cell phones.  I saw a group of workers gathering trash from the trash cans.  I even saw four homeless people setting their luggage aside and playing cards on a table.

The best place there is gone:

Nothing else could ever take the place of O.T. Hodges chili parlor.  Even the Hooters which was on the top floor is gone.  How does a Hooters go out of business?

The problem I have, which I expressed last time, was that it seems as if no one wants to do anything to make this place a better place.  If you want to attract families and people to the hotel, then make an attraction there.  The old, historic but homeless and trashy union station is not an attraction.  No one comes to St. Louis to see Union Station.  They come for other things now.  I'm just torn because the station is beautiful:
I just feel like offering some consulting services for like $1,000 and then give them some ideas guaranteed to fill the center and make it a thing again.  Does anyone still go to inside the union station for food?

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