Metro-East Living

Downtown Belleville had a big year with 7 new businesses opening on Main Street

Seven new businesses joined an already eclectic mix of locally-owned businesses along Belleville’s Main Street in 2018.

Wendy Pfeil, executive director of the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is “thrilled” with all the new places.

“Belleville is made up primarily of small businesses that are the heart and soul of our community,” Pfeil said in an email. “These new businesses show that Belleville is a thriving city with many positive attributes that attract new business owners.”

Alicia Chillemi Slocomb, Belleville Main Street Committee manager, agreed calling the growth spurt “the renaissance” of downtown.

Here are snapshots of the seven new businesses:

Metal Crafters Studio at Old Towne Mall

Old Towne Mall has successfully filled every storefront in its historic Belleville building on Main Street.

Seven businesses — all owned and operated by women — now fill the mall, bringing its occupancy rate to 100 percent.

“It’s making a comeback,” said Gerry Dahm, co-owner of Metal Crafters Studio, the newest business to open at the mall.

Local Lucy’s, TOOTS’ Cake and Candy Supply, Step by Step Dance Studio, Belleville School of Ballet, Ambassador Travel, BradyCrew Photo and Design fill the other spaces at Old Towne Mall in the 300 block of East Main Street.

Dahm and her business partners at Metal Crafters Studio started as a co-op for metal works artists and have grown to include classes for the public and jewelry retail space. Classes at Metal Crafters range from $30 to $100.

Beginners are welcome to come and make jewelry, bowls and other keepsakes. Cooper, silver, enameling and metal clay, a new material in the industry, will be available for customers to work with.

Dahm teaches classes along with artists Timothy Kelsheimer, Allyson Wolf and Joyce Marchand.

The shop sells jewelry and can make custom pieces as well.

Dahm hopes to add a couple’s class to the mix and metal crafting certification classes. The retail store will operate during normal mall hours.

Bennie’s Pizza Pub

In the spring, Bennie’s Pizza Pub took over the space where the Righteous Pig barbecue restaurant was located at 124 E. Main St..

Owner Bennie Parr Jr. joined the downtown Belleville scene by opening the pub, which features pizza by the slice, salads and a bar. New ovens in the pub cook pizzas in just over four minutes at about 550 degrees.

“We want to be great at what we do,” Parr said. “You’re getting premium food at a fast-food restaurant pace.”

Crafty Sugar Company

Converting a vacant store into a candy, craft soda and ice cream shop in downtown Belleville took longer than expected, but the Crafty Sugar Co. opened in May. You can find sweets from around the St. Louis region and across the country in the store at 104 E. Main St.

Their “signature item” is a root beer float made with Sprecher Brewing Co. root beer from Wisconsin and Madagascar vanilla ice cream from Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery in St. Louis. The store also offers cups, cones and ice cream sandwiches of Clementine’s ice cream, but only the “nice” flavors that don’t have alcohol in them.

In a nod to Belleville’s history, the Crafty Sugar Co. has an entire section along a front window dedicated to Jelly Belly Candy Co. products. The Jelly Belly Candy Co. of Fairfield, California, traces its company roots to confectioneries operated by the Goelitz family in Belleville in the late 1800s. And the Goelitz family’s last store in Belleville was located in the new home of the Crafty Sugar Co.

Other featured products include more than 50 bottles and cans of craft soda, including Fitz’s Root Beer from St. Louis, Excel sodas from Breese, Hank’s of Philadelphia, Jones of Seattle and Fizzy Izzy soda from St. Genevieve, Missouri. The store also has 54 flavors of saltwater taffy that you can buy in bulk and fair-trade chocolate candies from Theo in Seattle, where co-owner Mike Thouvenot lived for over 20 years.

Halo Clothing Boutique

A new women’s clothing store with jewelry, accessories and more opened in downtown Belleville last fall.

Located at 119 E. Main St., Halo Salon owner Cori May and her husband, Alex, said their new retail store represents growth and success as young business owners.

When the couple met, Cori was working alone in a one-room salon. Since then, her business has grown into a full service hair salon with nearly a dozen hair stylists, spray tanning and three employees who operate the boutique. Opening the boutique in a separate space feels like a nature next step, the couple said.

Halo Salon will continue to operate out its Swansea location at 4021 N. Illinois St.

Copper Fire

After a massive renovation of an historic downtown Belleville building, the Eichholz family opened the Copper Fire Bar and Eatery. Located at 200 E. Main St., burgers; beef brisket with au jus; beef Wellington; “drunken,” or brined, chicken; lobster rangoon; BBQ shrimp and sausage and chili have been some of the popular menu items ordered by Copper Fire customers.

Cosmic Comics Collectibles and Games

Located at 132 W. Main St., Cosmic Comics, Collectibles and Games recently opened in a storefront previously occupied by Peace by Piece. The clothing, gift and accessories shop moved to Swansea earlier this year.

Since then, owner Dave Dyer has moved his collection of pop culture items into the shop.

“I’m enjoying coming into work everyday,”owner Dave Dyer said. “I come in, I can’t wait to get in here, then I don’t want to leave at night when we close.”

Dyer, who previously worked as a tattoo artist, has created a warm environment inside of the new store where you can order hot coffee and browse through new and vintage inventory.

Wicked Little Bowtique and Smokin’ Aces Industries Salon

Samantha Schaefer’s vision for a retro hair salon and boutique has opened inside of the Market Square building in downtown Belleville. The 29-year-old entrepreneur moved into a storefront at 25 E. Main St.

The clothing side of her business is the Wicked Little Bowtique. Smokin’ Aces Industries Salon has also moved into the downtown space.

Her vision includes collaborating with other businesses in the area as more entrepreneurs chose to move downtown. Schaefer said she’s excited to be a part of the rebirth that’s happening in Belleville.

“I live here, and I’m raising my kids here,” Schaefer said. “I love Belleville, and I want to leave a legacy for my kids.”

Worth a mention...

The Wine Tap isn’t new to the area, but the wine bar and restaurant did welcome new owners this year.

Dan Fogarty-Hayden and his wife, Robbie, purchased the popular bar and restaurant at 223 E. Main St. and after a month of renovations, the couple reopened the business in September.

The Wine Tap was established in 2008 and has been part of the growing downtown Belleville restaurant scene since then. The couple decided to keep The Wine Tap as the name of their new venture and the wood-fired, brick oven for their pizzas.