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Maplewood continues to get its kicks on Route 66

"It's so diverse. It's so eclectic. It's Maple-weird."

MAPLEWOOD, Mo. — There are numerous interstates that zig zag their way through St. Louis connecting us with the rest of America. Starting back in 1926 Route 66 was one of the main ones.

The route could now be considered the “road less traveled” with travelers taking to the big interstates. Many of the stops along the original roadway are no longer thriving. But the stretch through Maplewood has found a way to survive.

In fact, Manchester Road continues to honor its Route 66 past. There are plaques along the sidewalks commemorating the history. The area remains a business district decades after Route 66 was rerouted.

“I think that it endures,” said Chef Liz Schuster.

The stretch endures because the people there have helped maintain it as a slice of Americana.

“That personal vibe. That authentic vibe,” said Schlafly CEO Fran Caradonna. “It’s that small-town feel.”

Schuster gave it a unique description.

“There’s so much going on. It’s so diverse. It’s so eclectic. It’s Maple-weird,” she said.

The collection of stores along the road are diverse.

“There’s something for everybody,” said Schuster.

There’s also a small-town friendliness.

“I love that I can go in and talk the shop owners,” said Caradonna.

It is nearly a shopper’s paradise.

“Everything you need is here,” said Schuster.

There is a lot being offered from a coffee shop to bars and restaurants.

“Ton of great places to eat and drink,” said Caradonna.

Schlafly brews beer just off the main drag. But one of the best bookstores in the area is on Manchester.

“What I imagine something in Diagon Alley to look like because it’s a book lovers paradise,” said Schuster.

Manchester Road continues to be place for small businesses to write a story of success. While some places closed in other areas during the pandemic, the shops here have been doing well. Schuster and Caradonna believe working together helps them survive.

“They think as a neighborhood,” said Schuster.

“It really does take everybody,” added Caradonna.

This stretch of Manchester keeps on moving forward but continues to recognize the past.

“Businesses that are moving in with fresh and interesting ideas, but they still also have a reverence and respect for the past,” said Schuster.

They invite everyone to come and experience what they have to offer for themselves.

“Wonder up and down the streets and go visit our friends and neighbors,” said Caradonna.

If you want to learn more about what the area has to offer including the upcoming Taste of Maplewood Street Festival, click here.

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