Spotted clear as day between the brick buildings of the Shaw neighborhood of what was once a gas station parking lot sits the new white building of Fiddlehead Fern Café. On the corner of Russell and Thurman Ave, the café has had its doors open since October 2017 to the people of St. Louis. Local to the area, Darcy Heine is the owner of the brand-new Fiddlehead Café. The clean-cut, crisp white building designed by her step-dad with elegant flower touches is the clean ambiance of what Heine wanted for her business.
We want to know a little bit about you. So, what brought you to this industry? What did you do to get here?
I’ve really always been in the business! My first real job was a coffee shop just about a mile away from here when I was 15, I worked with my friend and I couldn’t even drive, she drove me to work. Since then I’ve always been in the industry. I worked at Kaldi’s for four or five years and I lived down in Savannah, Georgia for a few years, and I worked for Perc Coffee Roaster down there. I’ve just always been in the business, it’s what I’ve always done. I’m from the Shaw neighborhood, my mother is from the Shaw Neighborhood, my family has been here since the late 1930’s, we’ve just never left. There have been a lot of changes, it’s on the rise. In the late 1970’s, my mom and dad bought their first house in Shaw- a beautiful really ornate brick house for $10,000 and they sold for $400,000, which shows the major changes in the neighborhood; on the rise. People are realizing they want to be urban goers. It’s a great place to live, a beautiful historic place.
How did you come up with the name?
The name is in reference to the history of the neighborhood, which is really the Missouri Botanical Garden, so that’s kind of our whole theme, it’s very botanical based. Also, our name is a combination of that and our interest in music, kind of a double entendre – botanical themed and music themed. On weekends we have bluegrass brunch where we have bluegrass musicians come in and play music from noon until 2.
What is the best thing about St. Louis being home for Fiddlehead Fern Cafe?
I was just talking about this earlier today! The Shaw Neighborhood specifically
is the perfect place for us. We have a dedication to our community and I think our community has a dedication to us and so when it comes to those experiences of getting broke into we have overwhelming support, it brought tears to our eyes. The neighborhood has been wonderful and we knew that they needed us as much as the business would need them too. We found that we have so many regulars and people who are so supportive of us and love what we do.
Another part of that which makes St. Louis an important home to us, is a couple years ago when I was living in Savannah was when the Michael Brown stuff was going on, and a similar situation happened in the Shaw Neighborhood. I felt so disconnected to my home because I was so far away and I couldn’t really do anything, so it became known to me that once I did open the cafe it would be a community, that was an important part of the business model that was specific to St. Louis.
Do you need reservations for brunch?
No, but it definitely gets pretty packed.
We are already in the process of designing an expansion. We own this whole lot, so we would make a small addition for the kitchen and add an intimate patio in the back.
Describe Fiddlehead Fern Cafe in one word?
Who are your suppliers?
For eggs we use Blindstar Farms, for bread we use Joey the Baker, for coffee Perc Coffee Roasters (which is where I worked in Savannah), for tea we use Firepot Nomadic Teas (Kaldi’s sister company), we get produce from a few different places, one is Double Star Farms and then there’s Tony’s Family Farm and also City Farm STL, we get cookies from Whisk Bakeshop on Cherokee and we also use Heirloom Bottling Company, which is a shrub syrup company so we make cocktails out of those.
Are there any challenges you have overcome?
Yes, the first thing was within our first month we got broken into twice. That was frustrating and a financial hardship, but we got past it and you know we never got worried about did we do this in the right area, we have so much love for and faith in the Shaw Neighborhood. It was just the price of doing business in the city and we had to get through it. We had no fear that it would affect the community of our business.
The first time our alarm was going off in the office and I don’t think they heard it so I don’t think they thought we had an alarm. After the first time, we got a siren style alarm and strobe lights, they didn’t even come in the second time…. That was our initial hardship. It’s really expensive to open a business and that just made it so much harder.
It’s always an exciting challenge to manage a staff, things come up and you can’t always be prepared for it, but I have an awesome staff and everybody is really dedicated to the community and to our customers. That’s the main priority of our staff, to treat our customers with love.
More than just a place to grab a bite to eat, Fiddlehead proves to be the spot for a St. Louisan to try something new and fresh. Stop in for a cup of coffee or a salad and support an STL native at Fiddlehead Fern Cafe.
To visit Fiddlehead Fern Cafe:
Located at: 4066 Russell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63110