Chiefs fans: Things to do in St. Joseph, from a brewery to Cuban eatery and speakeasy

The Frederick Village is emerging as a destination for people looking for a day trip in St. Joseph, Missouri

The Frederick Village — around Ninth to 25th streets on Frederick — is emerging as an entertainment district. in St. Joseph, Missouri. It's a destination for locals to gather and for out-of-towners on a day trip.
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The Frederick Village — around Ninth to 25th streets on Frederick — is emerging as an entertainment district. in St. Joseph, Missouri. It's a destination for locals to gather and for out-of-towners on a day trip.

The Kansas City Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph is drawing thousands of spectators and breaking attendance records.

Fans have until August 15, when camp wraps up, to check out the Chiefs at Missouri Western State University. But after a day of soaking up some Mahomes magic, fans can take a break — and avoid backups on the interstate — by taking in some what St. Joseph has to offer.

Attractions include a Cuban restaurant with a basement speakeasy (in a former bank building), a large craft brewery featuring St. Joseph memorabilia, and an urban market, heavy on Amish goods. The town, which entertained thousands of visitors two years ago for the full solar eclipse, has lots of options.

The Frederick Village — from about 9th to 25th streets on Frederick Avenue — is emerging as an entertainment district. And near City Hall, it is an entrance to downtown St. Joseph.

Where to go in Frederick Village:

The Cafe Belle Epoque, 1141 Frederick Ave. Nearly two dozen years ago, Olin Cox opened a bed and breakfast in a former St. Joseph mansion (circa 1885) that he called Whiskey Mansion Inn. He had a small cafe there, and it became so popular it broke out on its own just a few blocks away in 2018.

The Cafe Belle Epoque (French for beautiful age) is open for lunch, dinner and Saturday brunch. It features a farm-to-market menu (salads, soups sandwiches and entrees), nothing fried, and almost nothing frozen (just a small freezer for ice cream and the like).

The dinner menu includes such entrees as white lasagna with lemon, basil and artichoke; Italian meatballs (with pork and beef) and marinara sauce; crustless quiche; and the Keto (goat cheese-stuffed chicken medallions).

Sandwiches include a baked chicken breast on a house-made baguette with green apple slaw. Bread is baked at Whiskey Mansion Inn.

Cox also owns the block on Frederick that includes Friedrich’s Market and soon a home decor store, Bee & Thistle, scheduled to open in early October.

Friedrich’s Market, 1139 Frederick. Whiskey Mansion hosted a “pre-order, pickup Thursday” farmers market on its front porch that was the root of what is now Friedrich’s Market.

Nicole and Dan Radke opened the urban market in October 2017, sourcing items from local growers, butchers and particularly from the Amish community in Jamesport, Missouri.

Its shelves are stocked with soaps, dog treats, fresh eggs, Chicago-style popcorn, roasted sunflower seeds, sweetened toasted coconut, animal crackers, white chocolate caramel corn snack mix, granola, hominy grits, pickling spice, brandied peaches, cherry salsa, a variety of taffy and jams, as well as Whiskey Mansion breads.

Currently it is using spent grain from the two breweries across the street: River Bluff Brewing Co. for its Union Lager Spent Grain sourdough and Liberty Cap Brewing Co. for its Oatmeal Stout sourdough.

It has an outdoor market that runs from 8 a.m. to noon on the first Saturdays of the month through Oct. 26, featuring a vendor. And The Cafe Belle Epoque then hosts live jazz music from noon to 2 p.m. in the restaurant.

River Bluff Brewing, 1224 Frederick. The craft brewery opened nearly a year ago.

“We’re trying to introduce and grow the craft brew scene in St. Joe,” said Edison Derr, a partner in River Bluff with Chris Lanman. “We try to do things stylistically correct with just a little twist but not anything so outrageous that we scare anyone away.”

Derr fell in love with craft beer while living on the East Coast. When he moved to St. Joseph in 2013, he took up home brewing as a hobby. His home just happened to be on the upper floor of a duplex that was owned by Lanman, also a home brewer. They started planning a commercial craft brewery for St. Joseph.

Meanwhile, Lanman went to Virginia to help his brothers open two Basic City Beer Co. breweries.

“The love of beer formed our friendship, and after that the love of beer formed the brewery,” Derr said.

River Bluff Brewing offers such beers as River Bluff Union Lager, Upstream Wheat, Speedliner IPA (Speedliner boats were made in St. Joseph), Ray’s Citra Pale Ale (named after Lanman’s father), Blacklion Stout (named after the Irish hometown of Derr’s father-in-law) and Melon Baller IPA.

The brewery features St. Joseph memorabilia, including neon signs from the old Olympia Lanes bowling alley and a Speedliner boat.

“We’re just trying to encourage other entrepreneurs to come to the area so St. Joe can continue to grow,” Derr said.

Where to go in downtown St. Joseph

Mod Podge Boutique & Design Studio, 624 Francis St. Casey Wallerstedt founded the company nearly a dozen years ago, offering clothing and accessories, baby items and “whimsy decor.”

“It’s a great shopping experience for someone who wants something real artsy and something different,” she said.

Many items just bring out the smiles — from flamingo luggage tags to a skirt made out of Kansas City Chiefs neckties to felt house-slippers shaped like sheep and swans.

1785 Restaurant, 513 Francis St. Kansas City cardiologist Francisco Lammoglia opened 1785 Restaurant in downtown St. Joseph in March 2017, in homage to his Italian and Cuban roots. His great-grandparents are Italian but moved to Cuba around 1890. Other family members later joined them, including Lammoglia’s father in 1934. Lammoglia was born in Guantanamo. The family emigrated to the United States in 1962.

Lammoglia moved to St. Joseph in 1992, exactly 1,785 miles from his birthplace, he said

1785 Restaurant features handmade empanadas, Cuban nachos, fried sweet plantains and such entrees as chicken strips with capers in a rich tomato-based sauce, and prime ground beef sauteed with onions, peppers, tomatoes, olives and raisins.

The “speakeasy” El Puerco Ciego is in the basement. It’s a place to enjoy a mojito, daiquiri, Spanish sangria or Cuba Libre, along with traditional Cuban small plates.

Customers can take a wide stairway in front, or they can go the speakeasy way — through the former bank vault (now a wine cellar) in back, down a spiral staircase and through a small hallway and a closed door at the end. A bit of old Havana in modern-day St. Joe.

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Joyce Smith has covered restaurant and retail news for The Star since 1989 under the brand Cityscape. She appreciates news tips.