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Dining St. Louis - A Fine Restaurant Guide
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Dining St. Louis
Restaurant News
January, 2006

St. Louis Restaurant Guide to fine dining establishments with news about restaurant openings and special events. Restaurants are listed by area for your convenience.

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New Restaurant in Lafayette Square Receives $1.5 Million Investment
ST. LOUIS, (PRNewswire), January 8, 2006 - Soda Fountain Square, a new neighborhood soda shop and diner located in the historic Lafayette Square neighborhood, has received a $1.5 million investment from Advantage Capital Partners. The start-up funds will be used to support Soda Fountain Square's operations while it establishes a solid customer base in the St. Louis community.

Located at 1801 Park Ave., Soda Fountain Square serves breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Sundays. It features a diner-style menu including sandwiches, blue-plate specials, and breakfast all day. For dessert, the restaurant offers a wide selection of old-fashioned ice cream sodas, milkshakes, malts and floats, plus other dessert options.

Soda Fountain Square is owned and operated by successful entrepreneur Bethany Budde, who also operates the nearby Sqwires Restaurant and Market.

"The Lafayette Square area has been a great location for Sqwires, which opened five years ago, and the neighborhood has welcomed Soda Fountain Square warmly," Budde said. "With Soda Fountain Square, our goal is to provide exceptional service in a fun, family friendly environment. This financing from Advantage will enable us to introduce the St. Louis area to our classic but trendy restaurant with a refreshing, laid-back atmosphere and delicious meals."

Advantage made its investment in Soda Fountain Square through a small business investment fund established last year with private capital raised in connection with the federal New Markets Tax Credits program. The program is designed to stimulate growth and job creation in targeted communities by providing much-needed private investment capital, financial counseling and other services.

"Advantage Capital Partners is proud to invest in this business, and help the continued resurgence of the Lafayette Square neighborhood," said Jeremy Degenhart, senior associate at Advantage Capital. "We expect this fun restaurant experience to do well and bring customers from throughout the region to an exciting area near downtown."

Restaurant Trends Focus on Convenience, Health and Nutrition, Energy
ST. LOUIS, (SLFP.com), January 1, 2006 - Restaurant industry sales are expected to reach a record $511 billion in 2006, according to the National Restaurant Association's 2006 Restaurant Industry Forecast. The projected annual sales would mean a 5.1 percent increase over last year - and a total economic impact of over $1.3 trillion. It's the first time the industry's sales will cross the half-trillion dollar mark.

"With more than $1.4 billion a day in sales, the restaurant industry's share of the consumer food dollar is nearly 48 percent," said Steven C. Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association. "In the year ahead, the restaurant industry is poised to set a record - over one half-trillion dollars in direct sales. It will also mark the industry's fifteenth year of consecutive real economic growth. As one of the nation's most aggressive job creators, the industry will employ 12.5 million people in 925,000 locations."

In addition to the economic impact, the 2006 Restaurant Industry Forecast highlights the following trends:

  • Heightened focus on health and nutrition. Nearly three in four adults (72 percent) say they are trying to eat more healthfully in restaurants than they did two years ago. More than half of all operators, in both the quickservice and tableservice segments, reported greater customer demand for items such as entrée salads and bottled water now compared to two years ago. Also, majorities of operators reported that items like wraps, pitas and tortillas are more popular than two years ago.

  • Restaurants as homes away from home. With growing demand from plugged-in Americans accustomed to operating in a 24/7 society for amenities such as televisions and wireless Internet access, look for restaurants to bring more of these features to the table. Twenty-seven percent of adults surveyed by the National Restaurant Association said they'd likely use wireless Internet access if their favorite tableservice restaurant offered it. The percentage rose to 52 percent for adults aged 18 to 24.

    Table-top televisions spark interest as well. One in four adults surveyed said they would watch a small television at their table if their favorite fullservice restaurant offered it.

  • Increased attention to energy efficiency. Higher energy prices will force belt-tightening among some restaurant operators as well as consumers. A majority of operators anticipate higher energy expenses that will eat more of their bottom line next year. In addition, a majority report they have updated refrigeration, air conditioning and heating systems in the last two years, which will help contain cost pressures.

  • Demand for convenience. Thirty-four percent of adults say purchasing takeout food is essential to the way they live. Whether they're looking for a quick drive-through or a hot meal delivered to the car to take home, consumers will escalate their desire for convenience. Consumers readily embrace convenient services operators offer: curbside service, drive-through, delivery and takeout. Watch for more fullservice restaurants in 2006 to go more aggressively after the takeout and delivery markets.
Among the major segments, sales at fullservice restaurants are projected to reach $173.4 billion in 2006, an increase of 5.2 percent over 2005. Fullservice operators are optimistic about the economy, as a solid 69 percent of fine-dining operators, 59 percent of casual-dining operators and 48 percent of family-dining operators indicate that they expect their sales in 2006 to be higher than in 2005.

Quickservice restaurants are projected to register sales of $142.4 billion in 2006, a gain of 5 percent over 2005. Consumer demand for convenience and value will continue to drive growth, while operators continue to face stiff competition from grocery and convenience stores.

Economic growth is expected in all nine U.S. regions, with all regions also projecting job growth in 2006. The five top regions in terms of sales growth remain in the West and the South. These regions continue to have the fastest growth in local economies, disposable income and population. The restaurant industry in Nevada will have the highest sales growth of any state, followed by Arizona, Florida, Colorado and Texas.

"As the industry grows, so will the number of career and employment opportunities in the foodservice industry - by 2016 there will be an additional 1.9 million jobs available in U.S. restaurants," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Association's Research and Information Services Division.

"Even with the challenges of rising energy costs and major hurricanes in 2005, the nation's restaurants are entering 2006 with a solid performance and optimism about the future," said Riehle.

Dining St. Louis: Special Spotlight

Phantom of the Grand Ole Opry
Phantom of the Grand Ole Opry
January through April 2006
A long time ago ... In a city, far, far away ... named Branson...

Millions of people flock to the Grand Ole Opry House to see Tammy Whino's one woman show, "Stand By Your Man - Even Though He's a No-Good Worthless Drunk, Who Lives Off Your Royalties." Poor Tammy can't live on her royalties, which is why she's still performing instead of retiring to the Bahamas with her own stash of botox. Tammy's temper tantrums got her thrown out of the Golden Nugget in Vegas, so Wayne Newton banished her to Branson. Here, amid the fried chicken, line dancing and dinner theatre, Tammy is the Queen of the Grand Ole Opry. Or is she?

There are rumors that the Orpy is haunted. Some say that Elvis Presley himself, the King of Rock and Roll, isn't really dead. After rehab at the Betty Ford Clinic, he emerged clean and sober and vowed since he had conquered Rock and Roll, it was now time to conquer Country Western. But after Elvis made his debut, he ate a peanut butter and jelly doughnut laced with ...? Did he survive? Could Elvis be lurking beneath the catacombs of the Opry? When Tammy Whino is found murdered, many suspect Elvis.

So, ya all come down and help Kenny Rogeers, Dolly Pardon and all your favorite country western singers as they try to apprehend Tammy Whino's KILLER. Perhaps the Phantom of the Grand Ole Opry will be revealed to the audience, uh-huh, uh-huh.

Make your reservations now; it would be a CRIME to miss out on this much FUN! Call the Bissell Mansion Restaurant and Dinner Theatre at 314-533-9830 or 1-800-690-9838.
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Archived Restaurant News:

• Belas Artes Connects People & Cultures Through Coffee, Food and Art
• Spirit of the Vineyards Comes to Washington Avenue
• Taste of St. Louis Returns to Downtown
• Americans Too Busy for Lunch
• T.G.I. Friday's Introduces New Spanish-Language Menu
• Sammy Hagar Adds St. Louis to List of Locations for Cabo Wabo Cantinas
• Missouri Botanical Garden's Café Has Reopened With New Name and Look
• Sportservice Celebrates 75 Years of Peanuts, Popcorn and Hotdogs With Baseball Fans
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Moore Design Group St. Louis Fine Restaurant Guide® is a feature of the Saint Louis Front Page. The sole purpose is to disseminate news and information about restaurants in the Metropolitan Saint Louis area. Text or graphics may not be copied, rewritten or distributed in any manner whatsoever without written permission. For more information, contact editor@slfp.com All rights reserved world wide.© 1997 - 2006 Moore Design Group.

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Bissell Mansion Restaurant and Dinner Theatre
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