ST. LOUIS — J.W. “Trip” Straub can't remember the last time his family opened a new Straub's Markets store. Then again, he has an excuse.
“My mother was pregnant with me when we opened our Town-and-Country store, which was the last new one we opened,” Straub, who today is vice president of the four-store, family-owned specialty retailer, told SN in a recent interview. “And I'm 40.”
When the Beatles have more recent releases than you have, a new store is big news. And that's just what Straub's hopes to accomplish when it opens the doors at a fifth location next summer.
Located in Ellisville, Mo., the 40,000-square-foot store will be the first new Straub's since 1966, and by far the largest in the chain.
The new store will provide Straub's with opportunities to expand its offerings. New features planned for the space include a 150-seat, in-store cafe and a cooking school. The cafe will include a gelato bar, a wine bar and a coffeehouse atmosphere, according to Straub.
“Our current stores are in the 10,000- to 15,000-square-foot range, so being able to have enough space to do eat-in is big,” said Straub. “We have some outdoor space at our stores, and it's pretty popular, but we have never had enough space for indoor seating.”
Straub said food and event offerings in the new store will build upon the retailer's reputation for specialty/gourmet foods and fresh meats. That reputation has been building since Straub's great-grandfather launched the business in 1901.
Straub said he drew inspiration from visits to speciality retailers around the country and will incorporate “the best of everything I've seen,” into a store with appeal to St. Louisans.
Straub said the delay between new store builds had much to do with finding the right location.
“We're still a very small company, and so we don't want to guess wrong on a location,” Straub said. “A lot of people in town, even the Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, can put up a store a few years before they think it may mature, because they have the deep pockets to sustain that.
“For a small company like us, we really had to make sure we had the right location and had done our due diligence.”
The new location is part of a mixed-use development known as Fountain Plaza. Median household income within a one-mile radius of the site is $96,000, according to developer Centrum Properties, Chicago.