The Sketchiest Square Beyond Compare – Imo’s Pizza #113

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2014-05-30-19-41-28There are just certain things about living in St. Louis that all St. Louisans can relate to – enjoying toasted ravs, being asked where you went to high school, and of course Imo’s pizza. There’s just something about that thin crust and Provel cheese that you either love or you can’t stand, but you’d definitely know that unique combination anywhere.

So after starting our trip with an ice cream parlor, and then taking a little detour into city beautification land, Mercutio Krispytreats and I were ready to end our evening with a carry-out pizza from Imo’s because who could pass up such an opportunity?

2014-05-30-19-41-18Currently there are 96 or so Imo’s stores around the St. Louis area, but it all started with Ed and Margie Imo’s first pizza shop on Thurman and Shaw, where the cake was conveniently placed. Before getting into the pizza business, Ed and Margie had no prior knowledge of how to run a pizza shop but knew that the one thing St. Louis was definitely missing was a pizza delivery service. So in 1964 the first Imo’s pizza location was born and for a long time it was only open in the evenings for delivery or carry out. But with the success of their delivery idea and their signature thin crust and Provel cheese, Ed and Margie were able to open more and more pizza shops and serve us all the delicious pizza that seems to somehow signify St. Louis even to out-of-towners.

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Cake #113 at Imo’s Pizza 

With all this glorious pizza knowledge in mind, and hungry bellies, Mercutio and I figured we’d find the cake, snap a few photos and then call in a pick-up order for our dinner. But because neither of us had ever been to the original Imo’s location, we thought finding the cake would be the difficult part, and per usual with cake hunting, we had no idea what was really in store for us.

We were feeling pretty good about things as we circled the intersection of Thurman and Shaw as we scouted out both the cake and a good place to park the car. After our customary selfies with the cake and general admiration of the artwork, we jumped back in the car to place the order for our dinner, which turned out to be such an easy task that we also had that part accomplished before we even left the cake in our rear view mirror. Now all we had to do was drive to the location, pay, and pick up our food and then be on our merry way, free to go home and enjoy the end to a great cake hunt.

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Cake #113 at Imo’s Pizza

We put the Imo’s location into the GPS and started in that direction, and things were going great until the GPS started having us make turn after turn after sketchy turn, and we started to get suspicious. We chalked our suspicions up to our rumbling bellies and patiently turned back to the GPS. But when we kept making circles and weren’t any closer to pizza heaven, we knew something was up. Finally, with thoughts of abandoning our pizza dreams dancing in our heads, Mercutio said he thought he can get us there from memory and we began again.

Thankfully the gods of Provel cheese were on our side because just a few minutes after Mercutio took over the directions, we saw the most beautiful sight: an Imo’s sign fast approaching. Once inside, we practically threw our dollars at the cash register as we hurried out the door with our pizza prize. Getting home was a snap, and once we hit the front door, only seconds stood between us and Provel cheese goodness, and it really all did seem worth the wait.

Destiny Is Calling Me – Brightside St. Louis #112

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2014-05-30-19-33-29Coming from an ice cream cake,

And we’re doing just fine

Gotta, gotta be quick

Because we wanna see it all.

It started out with plan

How did it end up like this?

It was only a plan. It was only a plan.

Now we’re on to our second cake,

And it’s a pretty sweet thing.

Brightside St. Louis,

Where clean-up is king.

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 Cake #112 at Brightside St. Louis 

Ok, that’s enough of that. If you haven’t caught on yet, I was attempting to employ a sweet play on words for Cake #112 at Brightside St. Louis using the lyrics to The Killer’s song Mr. Brightside, but you know, a Cake Monster can only be so creative for so long🙂

So silly lyrics aside, Brightside St. Louis is one local not-for-profit that you’ve probably seen the efforts of without even knowing it. Located just a few blocks away from the Botanical Gardens, Brightside was founded in 1982 by former Mayer Vincent Schoemehl and G. Duncan Bauman, who was the publisher of the St. Louis Globe Democrat, in response to a survey taken of St. Louis residents who felt that the biggest problem with the city was that it was too dirty.

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 Part of Brightside St. Louis’ Demo Garden

In order to staff this initiative (originally called Operation Brightside) to clean up the city, volunteers for the project were asked to each sign up 10 additional volunteers who were then in turn asked to sign up ten more volunteers and on and on and on. Now, more than 30 years later, volunteers are still making St. Louis a cleaner place by collecting trash, removing graffiti and offering seedlings for area residents and volunteers to beautify their little part of St. Louis.

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 Cake #112 at Brightside St. Louis

So while my attempt at being witty may have failed just a little bit, the mission and efforts of this awesome not-for-profit certainly have succeeded in making St. Louis a cleaner place to live, as well as providing a fun Demo Garden for Mercutio Krispytreats and I to stomp around in before heading to our last cake of the day.

 

 

 

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 Cake #112 at Brightside St. Louis 

 

 

“Life Is Uncertain…Eat Dessert First” – Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream #111

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Cake #111 at Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream 

As I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing I love more than pulling up to Mercutio Krispytreats’ curb, barely stopping the car, and telling him to get in because we are headed off on an adventure. And for this cake hunt, the plan was no different.

With both of us safely in the car and ready for adventure, the first stop on our mini cake hunt was at Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream on Big Bend Road in Webster Groves. This first cake stop was both strategic and will power challenging because I knew that the cake itself was actually inside the ice cream shop, so I had to both make sure that we were planning to arrive at the location when the shop was open, as well as try and resist the temptation to sample every single flavor of ice cream they serve, which seemed next to impossible.

An award-winning ice cream shop, Serendipity opened in 2003 and since then has been serving St. Louis with delicious homemade ice cream made with local ingredients. The owner of the ice cream shop, Beckie Jacobs, also supplies ice cream and other dessert deliciousness to area restaurants, which is a pretty awesome gig for a relatively new ice cream shop.

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Cake #111 at Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream 

On the afternoon of the cake hunt though, Mercutio and I did our best to hold ourselves back from the mountains of ice cream staring at us, and fight the growing crowd of ice cream lovers for a spot next to the cake for our customary selfie – which I will admit, I was having a difficult time of, awkwardly looking off into the distance instead of at the camera! But when all was said and done (and photographed) and I learned of the ice cream shop’s motto: “Life is uncertain…eat dessert first,” I thought it was pretty serendipitous (😉 ) that we had stopped there for our first cake of the day.

 

The Vinyls May Be Vintage, But The Music Is Still My Jam – Vintage Vinyl #110

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Sweet Baby Miles in his Halloween costume circa 2012

Take it from this Cake Monster, the best way to end a long cake hunting trip is with a cake stop at a place that always makes you smile. And for me and Miles James, that place is Vintage Vinyl on the Delmar Loop.

Miles and I have a long history with the Loop, going back even before we were fearless cake hunters. When I lived in Maryland Heights, I would sometimes take Miles with me to the Loop dressed in his Halloween costume, even if it wasn’t Halloween time, just to see how many people would stop and pet him and smile and say how cute he was. During these trips, Miles and I were frequent visitors to the last stop on our cake hunt for the day: Vintage Vinyl. Miles, in particular, is a fan of the the free concerts they host in front of their store on Record Store Day.

With all the greatness Vintage Vinyl has to offer the Loop, I was not at all surprised that they were chosen as a cake location, and when I went to look up a little bit more about their history, I fell a little bit more in love with the location.

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Cake #110 at Vintage Vinyl

The idea for Vintage Vinyl – a place that was run by music lovers for music lovers – started in 1979 as the brainchild of Tom Ray and Lewis Prince. To kick start their idea, they decided to start used bringing records to the Soulard Farmer’s Market to sell. With the income from those sales, they bought more and more records and pretty soon they had sold enough to buy a really real store where they could sell their records. Their first store on Delmar was only 400 square feet and their inventory soon outgrew their space, so they moved to a second location, still on Delmar, that was 1000 square feet. And after a few years at this second location, they again needed to expand so they finally settled on their current location at 6610 Delmar, and with an awesome marquee out front, you can’t miss it! (PS this is just my condensed version of their history, if you need a good laugh, check out the owners’ version of their history; it’s ridiculously good).

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Cake #110 at Vintage Vinyl

And true to form, a snazzy place needs an equally snazzy cake, and the cake that was chosen for this location did not disappoint. This one was super sparkly and very fitting for its designated home.

So even though Miles and I did not go inside the store on this particular outing, I myself have been a frequent shopper at this location, including one memorable trip the day after Thanksgiving when I was at work and only had a half an hour for lunch but HAD to have all of the Incubus catalog on vinyl which had just been re-released at certain record store locations across the country. So I left the office, drove to Vintage Vinyl, snatched up everything Incubus I could find, and made it back in just enough time to thank my lucky stars that I work so close to one of the chosen few stores that was selling those records before returning to work. That was a pretty good day, and it was made entirely possible by the guys at Vintage Vinyl.

Put a Little Moon in Your Rise and Shine – Moonrise Hotel #109

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Cake #109 at the Moonrise Hotel 

Just like a lot of great nights out, this particular cake-venture ended with a trip to the Delmar Loop. In 2014, the year of the Great Cake Hunt, the streets of the Loop were absolutely flooded with cakes from the University City Lion Gates when you first enter the Loop to the Regional Arts Commission almost at the end of the street. Plus the first ever intentional cake hunt that Miles and I embarked upon took place on a cold winter’s night in the Loop.

But since the cake-putter-outer people decided to place the cakes in increments instead of all at once, Miles and I found ourselves once again in the Loop looking for cakes we hadn’t seen. The first of these on this excursion was at the Moonrise Hotel, which let me tell you, is a pretty stellar place.

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Cake #109 at the Moonrise Hotel 

The Moonrise Hotel was opened in 2009 by a man named Joe Edwards who wanted to revive the Delmar Loop and bring in more colorful and exciting attractions for visitors. As part of this, he decked out the Moonrise Hotel with a lunar theme and created specialty rooms that are described as “quirky,” and much like the Cheshire Hotel, revolve around a theme, which in the case of the Moonrise Hotel, is famous St. Louisans from Josephine Baker to Tennessee Williams.

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The Moonrise Hotel 

Inside the Moonrise Hotel is the modern American restaurant Eclipse and of course, the famous Rooftop Terrace Bar which seems like a great place to imbibe some liquid courage to confront your fear of heights. And you can’t miss the fantastically enormous sculpture of the moon at the top of the hotel which when seen at night rivals the actual moon itself in terms of awesomeness.

Here Is Where They Brew the Beer – Schlafly Bottleworks #108

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Cake #108 at Schlafly Bottleworks

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Cake #108 at Schlafly Bottleworks

St. Louis has a pretty good reputation for producing some pretty delicious adult beverages (did you know Pearl vodka is from St. Louis??), but in particular we have some pretty spectacular breweries – two of which were homes to cakes on my lovely cake-venture.

The first beer-tastic location that was home to a cake was Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood. And not only does this location boast some delicious food and drinks (obviously), but it is also St. Louis’ first new production brewery to open since Prohibition ended. Say what? Curiously enough, Schlafly’s other location, the Schlafly Tap Room downtown, was the first new brewpub to open its doors in Missouri after Prohibition, and those doors have been open since 1991. Not too shabby!

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Cake #108 at Schlafly Bottleworks

I’ve driven past the Maplewood location a few times, and each time I’ve driven by, the place has been packed. I’ve yet to step inside for a look around, but I heard they give a pretty spectacular free tour, and I’m all about spectacular free tours!

And even though I’m pretty sure he won’t ever be invited inside, Miles James was made a life long fan of the place when, after he stood so nicely for a picture with the cake, someone reached through the gate of the outdoor seating area and rewarded him with a french fry. For a chubby little pug, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Don’t Be a Fool, Stay in School – The College School #107

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Cake #107 at The College School

After Miles and I put some distance between ourselves and the Stage 5 Clinger we encountered at the Shrewsbury MetroLink Station, we headed to The College School in Webster Groves, and I have to say, this place was pretty neat for a number of reasons. The first of these was immediately evident as soon as we rolled up to the cake, which was right in front of the parking lot. And what was that awesome thing, you may ask? Well it was a super duper neat-o sign that was standing right next to the cake explaining the significance of that location. Hold up! What? That’s right! So instead of having to wonder why this lovely location was chosen as a cake home, it was all right there in blue and white! Perfection!🙂

2014-05-17 16.07.05And what did this glorious sign tell me about the location? Well, you can enlarge the picture of it that I took on the trip or you can read this quick summary: Basically The College School is a private, independent Pre-K through 8th grade school that values out of the box thinking when it comes to education. So even though the main campus for the school is in Webster Groves, where the cake was placed, they regularly take field trips to St. Louis landmarks, educational centers and sometimes even just take some time to explore nature to expand the educational experiences of the students. Seriously sounds pretty legit to me.

So not only was this location highly rated by me for its usage of an informative sign, but I also give it props for promoting the value of education. I also learned, after some additional research, that The College School was actually founded as a branch of Webster University in 1963. Since then The College School’s curriculum and buildings have increased as more and more educators have come to the school and expanded its horizons.

Plus any cake location that is free of distractions and others who do not appreciate the cake-hunting life, is a win in my book. And how could you not love the cake’s sweet brick pattern? Definitely one of the more memorable stops in my book.