Category: Featured

Stirup Espresso Now Offers Mobile Coffee Service In St. Louis

Dereck Lehr, Leslie Lehr’s young son, saw the horse trailer full of hay, which would become Stirrup Espresso. One question came to mind. Are you going to make coffee out of this?

Lehr started planning her mobile coffee company in 2019 after quitting her corporate job. She was once a flight attendant and had been to Italy and Costa Rica, where she fell in LOVE with coffee. She says, “I love coffee.” “If you don’t love coffee, you shouldn’t get into the coffee business.”

She knew she didn’t want to live in a brick-and-mortar store, as that would mean being there every day. She began looking online for options and came across videos showing people who converted horse trailers into food trucks. This idea inspired her business name. After searching the internet for horse trailers, she found one on the East Coast. It arrived just before the pandemic in early 2020.

Lehr believes that the timing worked out in the end, even though some may have thought it was unfortunate. She says, “It gave us more time and I didn’t feel under pressure to leave because we had a lot invested in it.” It took a while, but it was worth it.

Lehr started renovating the trailer and preparing for the day when she would be able to put her coffee-making skills into practice. Rod Mangin, Lehr’s husband, invented the name. It combines the worlds of horses and coffee.

It was time to sell when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, and farmers’ markets reopened. Officially, the business was launched on April 10, 2021.

Offerings include espresso, lattes, cortados, cappuccinos, and Americanos. There are three types of brewed coffee: cold brew, iced coffee, and batch brew. This is pour-over coffee that is made in large quantities and kept warm for fast service.

Lehr’s typical Saturday starts at 4 AM when pour-overs start. Lehr and her son pack everything in the trailer once they have prepared it. Then, Lehr and her son set off for the Lake St Louis Farmers’ Market. You can also rent the rig for private events.

Lehr began to roast beans at first at another local coffee shop. Today, she roasts her beans from Colombia and Brazilian coffee beans. Lehr prepares the orders, while her son works in the window. Lehr says that they work together for four hours straight. It doesn’t end there, which is fantastic.

Indo In Botanical Heights Near St. Louis Adds Cocktail Bar

Indo chef-owner Nick Bognar has just given customers two more reasons for visiting his three-year-old restaurant in Botanical Heights. The 31-year-old chef-owner added a cocktail bar to the already existing modern Southeast Asian offerings and a handroll menu.

A menu of 14 handrolls is now available, with prices ranging from $5 to $14 per person. A handroll, also known as “temaki” (Japanese for handroll), is a type of sushi that’s usually made from vinegared rice, sashimi, and other fillings. It is wrapped in nori. Bognar says handrolls are similar to sushi tacos. “I have been making handrolls at home for many years and I am excited to share more of this less-known sushi with the St. Louis community.”

Handrolls made with seared salmon belly and seared sea bream are among the new options. Omakase is a Japanese style of eating. The chef can make three handrolls for $22 and five for $32. Bognar states that adding handrolls will allow indo to evolve into what it is going to become in the future. He recommends “leaning more towards the cold side” and “in a very approachable, cost-conscious manner.” It’s evident that there is value and it’s apparent.

Indo offers a 20-item daily menu that includes gyoza and shrimp toast as well as vegetable crunchy rice and coconut mango rice pudding.

The former counter of a chef has been transformed into a bar with seven seats. Bognar stated in a release that they had always wanted to have a bar at Indo, but did not have the space.

Kira Webster, beverage director at Nando’s new bar, oversees the cocktail program and will also be the head of Sado at Bognar’s sushi-themed restaurant. She’ll open the 5201 Shaw space (which used to house Giovanni’s on the Hill) later in the year.

Webster was second in the inaugural National Sochu Competition. It was held in Brooklyn, New York, earlier this year. She released, “As a second-generation Japanese-American who spent my summers in Japan, working at Sado and indo is a way to explore my identity through cocktails.” “I love introducing less-known Asian ingredients into the beverage industry.”

St. Louis BLK MKT Eats Is Coming To Maplewood

After almost five years of serving burrito-sized sushi rolls, poke bowls and wonton nachos in Maplewood, BLKMKT Eats has expanded to the former Las Palmas location at 7356 Manchester.

Ron Turigliatto, co-owner, anticipates an opening date for the 1,420-square foot space “early in 2012.” JugoPlus architects has been selected to manage the buildout. Turigliatto states that construction will begin within a few months.

Turigliatto states that he and Kati Fahrney, co-founders, had been seeking to expand for nearly four years. However, the pandemic delayed the search. But they still “feel very good” about the location, Turigliatto said. The partners were more enthusiastic after attending the Let Them Eat Art. Turigliatto said that people were delighted to see them. “They were just as excited as we were.”

The Background

Five years ago, Fahrney and Turigliatto launched the concept. BLK MKT Eats, located near Saint Louis University, opened its flagship store at 9 S. Vandeventer, in 2017. Word spread quickly, with lines snaking out the door of the 1,000-square-foot-shop.

Customers line up to choose from 10 different varieties of sushi bowls, giant rolls (including our best-selling OG fire Salmon Burrito), and wonton-based nachos. All are made-to-order and packed for take-out or delivery.

He says that it was crucial to have two things when looking for a second location. More parking and dine-in seating. Maplewood offered both.

Turigliatto states that there is 40% more square footage which means more seats. There’s also a large parking lot at the rear with multiple cut-throughs. We are located in a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. BLK MKT Eats is a fast-casual, healthy, quick-serve restaurant that serves the immediate neighborhood. It is everything we expected.”

Tech Startup Hubs in St. louis: The Cortex District

image of Cortex Innovation District — tech startup hubs in St. LouisWhen you hear the word “technology,” what comes to mind? You probably think about the devices that rule your life: your smartphone or computer. Maybe you think about a new app or streaming service. Technology embodies many different product and service categories spanning a wide range of industries.

What about the words “technology startup?” — Do they make you think of St. Louis?

Where do successful tech startups live?

For most burgeoning entrepreneurs looking to build unique companies, apps, products and/or services, the coast is oftentimes a rather appealing place to begin. As it stands today, California’s Silicon Valley is home to the nation’s largest technology community while New York remains to be the mecca for some of the United States’ most prestigious businesses.

For many tech startups looking to make a difference in the world, however, destinations like California and New York are unreachable — the cost of living is too expensive, or the thought of being swallowed up by a densely populated area is too daunting to consider.

These reasons, among many others, leave entrepreneurs searching for an alternative destination — a place that offers creative work spaces, project funding and rich local culture.

Enter the city of St. Louis.

Building a Community of Innovation

Thanks to St. Louis’ inviting midwest hospitality, business resources and pool of sharp talent from local universities, St. Louis has cultivated one of the fastest growing technology startup scenes in the United States. Contributing to this growth is the largest, most renown tech startup district St. Louis has to offer…

Cortex District

The Cortex District is known as St. Louis’ “innovation community.” Located about two miles east of Forest Park and just south of the Central West End, this up-and-coming zone is the home to a series of co-inhabited offices filled with innovative thinkers and doers.

At the time this article was published, Cortex boasts three unique locations and one organization that hosts weekly startup events:

Center for Emerging Technologies (CET)

“Founded in 1998, the Center for Emerging Technologies (CET) is the largest and oldest Innovation Center in Missouri. CET is nationally recognized for providing the infrastructure and resources needed for early-stage, high-growth companies in the fields of information technology, bioscience and consumer/manufactures products to innovate and thrive. An affiliate of the Cortex Innovation Community since 2012, CET fills an important program role in the Cortex district and broader St. Louis region.” — CET St. Louis

CIC St. Louis

“CIC started in 1999 with a vision and a simple idea: Startups make the world much better. We can help them by setting up and managing their office for them so they can focus on their business. We believed we could do that better than anyone else and we set out to prove it. Since then, more than 1400 companies have chosen CIC as their home and many have gone on to prove their value to the world as startups. More than $1.8B of venture capital has been invested in companies that were headquartered at CIC. We now house over 800 companies, most of them startups, and we haven’t stopped making CIC better every day.” — CIC St. Louis


“BioGenerator is an evergreen investor that creates, grows, and funds innovative companies and talented entrepreneurs in the St. Louis region. BioGenerator identifies and de-risks commercially promising innovations and services; advises innovators and entrepreneurs; recruits and supports entrepreneurial talent; makes staged investments grounded in rigorous due diligence; and offers access to enabling lab space and capital equipment. We position companies to navigate the unique challenges of early-stage bioscience company development.” — BioGenerator


“A playground for creativity, TechShop is an open-access, DIY workshop and fabrication studio. We are a community-based space where entrepreneurs, artists, makers, teachers and students come together to learn and work together.” — TechShop

Venture Café St. Louis

“We believe innovation is a process to improve the human condition.

The focus should not just be about making apps. The real challenges facing the human condition require innovative solutions. There is room for innovation in education, the arts, government services, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, social enterprise, and many other sectors. Join us each Thursday at 4240 Duncan or attend Venture Cafe Nights: Forward Through Resilience on the 2nd Tuesday of each month or Venture Cafe Nights: 39 North on the 3rd Tuesday of each month.” — Venture Café St. Louis

Want to learn more about tech startups in St. Louis?

In a mission to promote the absolute BEST of St. Louis, Elevate STL highlights the most innovative high tech startups, biomedical growth and nationally leading entrepreneurship our city has to offer.

For more stories relating to tech startups in St. Louis, bookmark our online Tech Startups category, and check it often. There will be more to come soon. Stay tuned!

The Top Ten Recognized Businesses in St. Louis

image of a red pin sticking in a map of St. Louis — businesses in St. LouisSt. Louis is a city of many appeals: we covet our Cardinals every spring, and we bleed Blue during the winter (but we never talk about the NFL…ever). Our city features some of the most celebrated attractions in the nation, like the Gateway Arch and our one-of-a-kind Busch Stadium, complete with Ballpark Village. Consequently, St. Louis is also a great place for thriving businesses.

Today, we’re highlighting some of the most nationally and globally recognized businesses in St. Louis and how their work influences the way people in our city work and live.

The Most Renown Businesses in St. Louis

St. Louis’ ability to produce intelligent, success-driven employees who want to positively influence their city and the world has created an ideal home for the following high-profile corporations:


“Anheuser-Busch’s roots date back to the mid-1800s when a large number of German immigrants arrived to St. Louis, mainly due to political upheavals in Germany and Bohemia in 1848. With the large migration of Germans to St. Louis the principal industry in the area soon became brewing beer. These immigrant brewers introduced a new style of beer to the United States: Lager. Lighter, crisper and more difficult to brew, Lager beer requires more time and care than other styles of beer. In a short time, Budweiser would go from a local favorite to the King of Beers around the world.” — Anheuser-Busch

Panera Bread (a.k.a. St. Louis Bread Company)

“We care about the simple things: freshly-baked breads, attention to detail, a warm place to gather and our local neighborhoods. That’s why at Panera Bread bakery-cafes, bakers spend their nights baking breads in stone deck and convection ovens before we open our doors each morning. This overnight effort ensures that everything from your morning bagel to your late afternoon sandwich was baked fresh, that same day. We apply this same dedication to all of our cafe items, from fresh, crisp salads with unique flavor combinations, to our savory selection of soups. At the end of each day, we donate unsold bakery products to the community and then start all over again.” — Panera Bread


“For 50 years, we’ve been using our technology and expertise to make payments safer, simpler and smarter. We don’t issue cards, but we do make payments happen around the clock, around the world. We believe it pays to give back; through our philanthropy and payment innovations, we’re making a positive impact in communities around the world.” — Mastercard


“The Energizer® brand is synonymous with world’s first innovation and emerging technologies. Beyond power and portable lighting, our real product is bringing positivenergy™ so that you can do, enjoy, and accomplish more than you ever expected.” — Energizer

The Boeing Company

“Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in 150 countries. Boeing products and tailored services include commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, launch systems, advanced information and communication systems, and performance-based logistics and training.” — The Boeing Company

Nestlé Purina

“[When we make Purina pet foods,] we start with wholesome ingredients that meet or exceed government standards, and manage the processing every step of the way to ensure the product quality. [But] quality pet foods are just the beginning. From our leading-edge research, to innovative programs like ‘Purina Pets For People’ in the US and Pet Care School in Italy, we’re always looking for new ways to help pets and the people who love them.” — Nestlé Purina

Sunnen Products Company

“Sunnen Products Company has been a global leader in the manufacturing and distribution of bore sizing and finishing equipment, engine rebuilding equipment, and tooling and abrasives since 1924. [We are] committed to providing a broad offering of catalog products and custom engineered solutions in a way that exceeds the expectations of our customers.” — Sunnen Products Company

Edward Jones

“Edward Jones serves nearly 7 million investors from more offices than any other investment firm in America. We attribute a great deal of our success to our principles and personal, long-term approach to investing.” — Edward Jones


“Monsanto is a sustainable agriculture company [that is] focused on empowering farmers—large and small—to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world’s natural resources such as water and energy. We do this with our leading seed brands in crops like corn, cotton, oilseeds and fruits and vegetables. We also produce leading in-the-seed trait technologies for farmers, which are aimed at protecting their yield, supporting their on-farm efficiency and reducing their on-farm costs.” — Monsanto

Spire (formerly The Laclede Group)

“Spire’s natural gas utilities and other related businesses work together to enrich the lives of the 1.56 million customers we serve across Missouri and Alabama. Our gas marketing business maintains the balance between our natural gas supplies and our customers’ needs, ensuring the highest reliability at the lowest costs. And we’ve tapped into the growing market of cleaner-burning natural gas vehicles that can conveniently support business fleets of all kinds.” — Spire

Want to learn more about businesses in St. Louis?

St. Louis is a large city full of burgeoning businesses and innovation; we could not list all of these organizations in this single article. If your favorite St. Louis business didn’t make our short list, tell us in the comments section below! What businesses deserve to be in the Elevate STL spotlight? Why did you select the business you chose? What does the business do to positively influence our city? Would you be interested in Elevate STL working with this business to produce future content?

As a website produced by St. Louis citizens, for St. Louis citizens, your input is vital to our success. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and get involved in our unique project.

For more stories relating to business in St. Louis, bookmark our online Business category, and check it often. There will be more to come soon. Stay tuned!

Microsoft to Open St. Louis Location in Cortex District

Tech behemoth Microsoft recently announced it would be moving its offices from Creve Coeur to the newest expansion in the Central West End’s Cortex area.

The move is part of a $55 million,180,00- square-foot office and lab expansion in the innovation district. Microsoft will be bringing nearly 150 jobs to the development, approximately 60 current jobs and adding 90 new positions.

Such a tech giant making the move to an area associated with St. Louis’ start up culture and research is a great vote of confidence for the district.

Microsoft will be leasing 30,000 square feet in the development.

The St. Louis office will be regional headquarters for states like Missouri, Kansas and Tennessee, according to Ervin Flores, General Manager of Microsoft’s Mid-America District.

The new development will also include a Microsoft Technology Center, where customers can work with employees to design custom technology system. Microsoft currently runs around 40 of these centers around the world, moving St. Louis into some exclusive company.

One major draw to Microsoft was the ability for Microsoft employees to interact with start ups and researchers in the Cortex district. The Technology Center will also give the district’s start ups and tech companies the opportunity to test the newest and cutting edge products form Microsoft.

On hand for the announcement of the project were Outgoing St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

Washing University will be the other anchor tenant, leasing 69,000 square feet of the development.

Techie Playground opens in Cortex District

Want to create the next great app, build the next great invention, create furniture or weld a new project? TechShop has opened a location in St. Louis’ Cortext District where you can do just that.

The workshop and fabrication studio chain opened in California nearly 10 years ago and has since expanded to Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia, with a Brooklyn location opening soon.

Square, the ubiquitous credit card swipe/POS app and hardware for mobile phones and tablets got its start in a TechShop in California, where St. Louis born co-founder Jim McKelvey built his first prototypes of the swipe device.

“I think it’s fantastic for the St. Louis region because there are certain things that you need equipment to do and there’s a culture of experimentation there,” McKelvey said in a phone interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “TechShop is a big playground for makers.”

Each TechShop offers a host of equipment and tools for bourgeoning entrepreneurs and inventors to use including large sanders, glass cuttors, automotive tools, electrical measurement tools, drill presses, table saws, DSLR cameras, 3D printers, plasma cutters, and more.

For access, a membership is required. Dues are $150/monthly and gives you access to all tools and instruction in the building, provided you pass safety and basic use classes for each tool.

TechShop isn’t just for members though. Nonmembers can take advantage of any of their classes for a fee. Classes available include metal working, CAD, woodshop, sewing and more.

No experience is required for TechShop classes and TechShop has even worked to create classes for date nights. Discounts are given to students and active military personal.

It’s safe to say St. Louis’ start up and maker community is excited for TechShop’s opening. The workshop is currently on track to reach its goal of 1,000 St. Louis area members before it even opens.

New Development Plan In The Hill Neighborhood Moves Forward



This article was contributed by Rio Vitale of

It’s official.  The development plan in the Hill neighborhood is moving forward. The plan is to build apartments, town homes, condos and single-family homes to replace a vacant 11-acre factory complex in the neighborhood. This property on the Hill is bordered on the east between Daggett and Bischoff on Hereford Street, directly behind St. Ambrose Church and South Kingshighway on the west.










American Stove Company, Coin Accepters, and other manufacturers occupied the 11-acre site.  These companies once employed many neighborhood residents. The property has been vacant for almost 20 years.

The Sansone Group submitted final plans for this development, which includes a 225-unit apartment complex, 49 town homes, approximately 45 condominiums and 20 single-family homes at 4932 Daggett Avenue. The developer and the neighborhood are hopeful the project will bring younger residents to the Hill and the surrounding area.  As developers have explained, this neighborhood is desirable because of the services available, restaurants, coffee shops, and salons all within walking distance and convenient to major attractions allowing an easy commute.  The main concerns of many residents are the traffic and parking conditions. The proposed structure has its own parking garage, which is not visible from the front of the building.  The Sansone Group has priced these units to attract millennials that enjoy city living, but also the modern conveniences that renting a typical shotgun home in the neighborhood does not provide.  It appears likely for the upwardly mobile residents that they will eventually move into a home in or around the surrounding neighborhoods.

This has been the biggest and the most contested project on the ‘Hill’ since Highway 44 separated the most northern streets from the rest of the neighborhood in the 1972.    Today Highway 44 separates Northrup and Pattison from the southern part of the Hill.  One hundred homes were demolished on the south side of Pattison in order to build Interstate 44. The original plan for this section of I-44 was opposed valiantly by Hill 2000 (the neighborhood organization) lead by Fr. Sal Polizzi. The group was not successful in getting the highway rerouted.  These dedicated citizens were successful in getting approval for an additional overpass on the highway when a committee from the Hill presented the United States Department of Transportation a check for $50,000. The bridge would keep the neighborhood connected so people could continue to walk to work and worship at St. Ambrose Church.

I have spoken and worked with a number of developers for this particular property over the past five years and each one had decided against development projects because of the neighborhood residents’ resistance to any plans that did not include residential homes and other restrictions placed upon the property, which would limited profitability.

This new $40 million development needed some bridges built as well. It required bridging the gap of what the old residents and political environmental wanted to preserve and what the newer younger residents wanted, growth and a potential for progress.  Largely the Sansone Group and the new Board of Directors of the Hill 2000 Neighborhood Organization built the bridge, which brought the two sides together. Thereby, the current development plan was approved.

There were a number of neighborhood meetings help between residents, St. Louis City Alderman Joe Vollmer and the Hill 2000 Neighborhood Association that were heated and exhausting.  There were surveys conducted that were contested, petitions signed trying to stop the project, and other obstacles. The Sansone Group believed in their project was determined not going to give up on the neighborhood.  They had meetings with Alderman Joe Vollmer and Monsignor Vince Bommarito (Pastor of St. Ambrose Church) and came up with a plan that could be acceptable to both community leaders. While many older residents were not in favor of the Sansone plan, it seemed the majority of the residents welcomed the new development.  Alderman Vollmer was then able to proceed with a presentation to the Board of Alderman for final approval of the project.

As more residents move into the neighborhood, there will be a need for businesses to  open on Sundays in the neighborhood.  It is expected that the Hill businesses will want to share in this new growth potential and expand their hours.  This type of activity is very much welcomed around the neighborhood, as traditionally Sunday is a break away from the traffic and tourist that appear daily.  

The Hill is currently undergoing a number of growing pains, which often come with progress.  There have been a number of new homes built, restored or rehabbed. This means large dumpsters on the street, mud flowing into the street due to grading or the demolition of an older home.  While it is understood there will be difficulties and inconveniences during construction, these are the challenges that accompany progress and change.  There is no crystal ball to tell us what is going to happen in five or ten years, but this deal looks to be profitable for all involved.