NewsThe NorthSider

Trap Run showcases north side, raises funds for Sara-Lou cafe

THE VILLE – On Saturday, north St. Louis residents did a run- or walk-by of some of the good things completed and developing in the area.  Imagine a race with a route specifically designed to take runners past drug houses and other dens of crime.  That’s what is known as a “trap,” and the Trap Run seeks out those spots which were once “traps” and have now been renovated or restored into something positive.  

“There are so many buildings that have been torn down, so we want to make sure we save some and bring them back to their original grandeur,” run organizer Michael Burns said. 

This was the second year of the Trap Run, sponsored by Northside Community Housing Inc., was held in partnership with the first-ever area Conscious Fest, which took place near the corner of N. Sarah Street and Evans Avenue. 

The run (and walk) started there. It then proceeded south on Sarah, then east down Washington Avenue to Vandeventer Avenue, then east down Page Boulevard back to Sarah. That was the one-mile route. 

Those opting for the three-mile run kept north on Vandeventer, turning east down St. Louis Avenue to Sarah for a straight shot to the finish line.

That route took runners and walkers past the former Sara Lou Cafe in The Ville. The cafe, which opened in 1945, was known in its heyday for shrimp, tarter sauce and socializing. It closed in 2002 due to structural damage and unaffordable repairs.   

Burns, who is also a developer and president of NCHI, is currently planning the redevelopment of the eatery. Funds raised from the run are earmarked toward the stabilization and renovation of the former bustling cafe. 

“We know how important it was to the St. Louis community, especially, historically, with residents years back,” said Burns, who grew up right down the street from the Sara Lou Cafe. 

Caroline Washington Moore, who also grew up nearby and ran the three-mile race, seconded Burns’ sentiments.

“It was great; we have a lot of fond memories walking up there for our parents and treating ourselves on the weekend,” Washington Moore said. “I hope it encourages more black restaurants in the area.”

So does Burns. He said bringing back the Sara Lou Cafe would bring a level of pride to the neighborhood. 

Burns has also came up with a microbrew called Sara Lou Brew. Civil Life Brewing Company is brewing it, and it will soon be available in stores. Sales of the brew, too, will benefit the building fund. 

“It tastes amazing,” said Nay’Chelle Harris, member of Young Friends of the Ville. “It was good to see craft beer at the event and in our neighborhood – you usually have to go somewhere else to get it.”

At the run, Burns also previewed some other items that may show up on the menu: shrimp and grits, and chicken and waffles. 

The event and run also served up plenty of “trap music” along the race route. 

Calling the event a trap run and playing trap music, Burns said, was meant to attract diverse residents and flip the negative connotations of the music. 

A trap house is usually defined as a place where illegal drugs are sold, and drug dealers could get trapped there by the police and go to jail. Then there’s trap music, which usually is very bouncy and catchy.  

“I really liked the music throughout the race. It helped to motivate runners,” Washington Moore said. 

Burns said, “We put a different twist on it and brought positivity for a family event that included local businesses and black entrepreneurs. It was very diverse, and people left happy and smiling. And it was trouble-free.”

Bill Beene Bill Beene was born and raised in north St. Louis. He has been a journalist for 12 years. He enjoys cooking and roller skating. He lives in the historic Ville neighborhood.

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