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Blues City Deli: Oasis for good times

23 February 2012 No Comment

If anyone has noticed the increasing prevalence of Blues City Deli stickers on vehicles around the St. Louis area, it can be easily explained: the place is wonderful.

While I think of BCD as a warm, inviting place where I can check out amazing musicians for free and drink hoppy beers for “keepin’-it-real” prices, it is really a combination of elements that sets this place apart from other establishments in our great city. St. Louis has a long, storied history of being a beacon that enables aspiring (or established) blues musicians to prove their mettle in front of passionate blues lovers. BCD perpetuates this decades-long tradition by offering live music every Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon.

I’ve been to BCD around 12 times in the past 18 months, and each visit was during a live music performance. Not that it wouldn’t be a wonderful place to hang out otherwise, but since I go out very infrequently I plan around these experiences. I’ve never been disappointed by the music being played there, and it is ALWAYS a different act playing. The music covers so many styles and eras … and it is always a far-out party! Though it is very crowded at times.

It genuinely feels like a special oasis as evidenced by any otherwise calm, uneventful Thursday evening being instantly transformed into an energetic, authentic live music experience in St. Louis city as soon as you hit the corner of McNair and Victor Streets. The entire Benton Park area seems to have undergone an infusion of business development and community support, which is awesome.

I really appreciate a business owner like BCD’s Vinny Valenza, who is constantly tending to his customers and is just a super friendly guy. He seems to love throwing out shirts and gifts to his patrons during shows and is hands-on with everything. Bumper stickers are easy to acquire as well!

Usually, I see many of the same faces when I hit this place, a likely result of tremendous neighborhood support by folks that just love good times. Besides live music and a dynamic setting, BCD obviously offers food … and it is remarkable. Huge sandwiches for $5-7, and the variety is enough that you could order differently for months. Like the food, the beer options are also varied. High-quality and inexpensive. On one recent Thursday, I enjoyed Double-IPAs for $2 each! That is crazy stuff.

I generally don’t see why places have beers priced so high. I’ll drink four $2 beers, but maybe 1-2 $4 beers when I go out. The more customers buy (and drink), the more tips for the staff, the happier the crowd … and the likelihood of food purchases rises exponentially.

BCD also often has local breweries on hand for tastings during live music performances, which is another cool move by Vinnie. I wish other local businesses would take notice at this dynamic business model and follow suit. You may lose a little profit margin, but the loyalty of your customers and employees will ensure longevity and prosperity for many years. Blues City Deli rocks, man!

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