Would you stand in line for up to two hours to eat at a restaurant? Would you be willing to take on a challenge of drinking five malts in 30 minutes, just to get them free and “bragging” rights? Well, then Crown Candy Kitchen in Old North St. Louis is for you.
Actually, Crown Candy Kitchen is a place for anyone with an appetite for good food and an appreciation for nostalgia. We took on the “challenge” of standing in line with other tourists – as well as locals – for a chance to eat at a place recognized on national television as the home to great food and ice cream.
People have been known to stand outside as long as two hours for a chance to sit down and have a meal and dessert at the home of St. Louis’ oldest soda fountain. Crown Candy Kitchen opened in 1913 and has been a crowd favorite ever since. Luckily, our wait was to be about 30-40 minutes. As we neared the entrance (we could actually see people inside), one of the servers came out and asked for the next party of two. Guess who that was? Yes!!
We squeezed our way through two lines to our table. One line was for people waiting inside for their table. The second line was for to-go orders, including candy and ice cream treats. People getting takeout orders will go across the street to eat at a small park with picnic tables.
I can see why people have to wait to dine inside. There were 14 booths that sat about a total of 42-45 people. It’s a bit cramped.
The place is full of nostalgia. Walls are lined with old signs and St. Louis memorabilia, including a St. Louis Blues’ hockey stick.
One half of the restaurant has the confectionary, selling homemade chocolates and candy, and the soda fountain. People really like their ice cream and chocolates, because Crown Candy Kitchen was doing some bang-up business on that side.
Our lunch was worth standing in line for. Lisa had a turkey sandwich. I had the turkey special, which came with a slice of bacon, tomato, lettuce and the bread was topped with mayo. We both enjoyed our sandwiches, but neither could finish them. We suggest splitting meals.
We did find room for dessert. We were told we had to try a malted drink. So, we ordered a strawberry malt to split. The server brought out two 8-oz glasses. Then, she brought out a silver shaker and poured the malts into the glasses. Oh, were they tasty! It had to be one of the best shakes I’ve ever had! Then, as we neared the end of our glasses, I looked and saw more in the shaker. Wowza! We definitely got our sugar rush that afternoon.
Remember the drinking challenge I mentioned? You can try to down five 20-oz malts in 30 minutes. If you succeed, you get them for free. If not? Pay up, bro! Adam Richman tried it once on “Man vs. Food” on the Travel Channel. Food won that one.
The area the restaurant is located in is unique. It’s undergoing rehab after falling on difficult times. It looks like people are moving new businesses into the area, to help rejuvenate it.
“Jamaica Ray” entertained would-be diners as we waited outside in line. He played metal drums, giving a Caribbean sound to CDs he played.
“Ray” also creates mannequins of sorts. They are characters that he sets up around Crown candy Kitchen. They’re not like store mannequins, but more life-sized pillow characters.
A clown either entertains or scares people.
A police officer “directs” traffic in the area.
A family is waiting for the next bus, across the street from Crown Candy Kitchen.
“Ray” is even joined by a couple of “buddies” as he performs.
A few buildings south of Crown Candy is a chess park. I love the idea of playing chess outdoors. It just screams “large city” to me.
We had a great visit to not only Crown Candy Kitchen, but to the area of Old North St. Louis. We’d do it again. Nothing beats a malt at Crown Candy Kitchen. When in St. Louis, check it out. You’ll enjoy.
For more information on Crown Candy Kitchen, please visit its website at www.crowncandykitchen.net.
If you’d like to learn more about the restoration projects in Old North St. Louis, check out www.facebook.com/ONSLRG.