Ted Drewes Frozen Custard owner distressed by lack of progress for safety measures

The owner of the iconic Ted Drewes Frozen Custard stand in St. Louis said he’s bothered terribly about the lack of promised safety improvements after two pedestrians died in front of the Route 66 landmark more than a year ago.

More from a detailed story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

There are no bollards reinforcing the fencing in front of the Ted Drewes stand on Chippewa Street, or bump-outs on the curb, or medians for pedestrians to take refuge. The nearest crosswalk is still down the street at Jamieson Avenue. And in the meantime, at least one other pedestrian has been hit and injured.

“I’ve lost sleep over it,” said Ted Drewes owner Travis Dillon. “I wish I could fix it myself. But I’m not sure how we can make the city go faster.”

City leaders say they are moving as quickly as they can. It took a while to find money for the improvements. Aldermen had to appropriate federal pandemic aid to pay for a new crosswalk with flashing signals. And a decision to install everything at once meant officials had to wait for more design work that delayed construction further. […]

Ted Drewes has been bringing crowds to historic Route 66 near the city’s southwestern border since 1941. And while over the years it has added dozens of parking spaces next to its stand, peak summer crowds overflow the lot and side streets. Many customers park at businesses across the street and walk across five-lane Chippewa to buy their concretes.

It wasn’t a problem until May 2022, when a retiree from nearby Washington University was struck and killed on the street. Two months later, a student from a local high school was struck and killed while crossing the street.

As a longtime customer of Ted Drewes, I can attest that traffic seems to go too fast for that area. The speed limit there is 35 mph, and dropping it to 25 mph seems to be a good short-term solution to preventing more pedestrian deaths.

The delays have deeply frustrated Alderman Tom Oldenberg, who has lobbied hard for the city to make the safety improvements.

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard started in 1929 near St. Petersburg, Florida, and moved to St. Louis in 1930. The first St. Louis shop was at a long-defunct spot on Natural Bridge Avenue. The Grand Boulevard store opened in 1931.

Ted Drewes opened its flagship stand on Chippewa Street, which is a Route 66 alignment and a significant artery in the southwest part of the city.

(Image of Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis by artistmac via Flickr)

3 thoughts on “Ted Drewes Frozen Custard owner distressed by lack of progress for safety measures

  1. What were the actual reasons behind the two deaths? Was either driver charged with any driving offence? Was it just carelessness on the part of the two pedestrians? And the accidents happened near the frozen custard shop? And what about the injured pedestrian? Was he or she at fault when crossing the road? Was the driver at fault?

    If Ted Drewes is so concerned and losing sleep over the situation, why does he not use some of his profits to make the area safer? If drivers “park at businesses across the street and walk across five-lane Chippewa to buy their concretes”, then where is their common sense when parking so far away, and when crossing a main road? Judging by the crowd of people outside the shop in the photo, a bit of paying attention to their surroundings might be in order. And just what is so wonderful about frozen custard anyway?

    1. I live right next to this intersection. The owner said in a televised news story that he has offered multiple times for Ted Drewes to put in the changes themselves, but that the city won’t allow them to make changes since it’s a city street. That area of Chippewa was built for twice as much traffic as it currently handles, and due to zero police presence and a lack of traffic to slow them down, drivers regularly barrel through red lights well over the speed limit without even thinking to look for pedestrians. Almost every night, we either see or hear drivers drag racing down Chippewa. They know that there are no police here to stop them. The crosswalks at the intersection malfunction frequently and are designed so poorly that people feel it’s safer to jaywalk; that’s because if they jaywalk across Chippewa, at least there are only two directions that a car can hit them from instead of four.

  2. Been there many times Eric. And while no food is worth serious injury or death, their frozen custard is quite good. We always stop when we’re in town. Getting it in a small St. Louis Cardinals batting helmet is even better! It’s a Route 66 and St. Louis legend, a very popular business, particularly in the good ol’ summertime. It’s just an unfortunate combo of not enough parking (and no way to add more), a busy street with it’s normal share of drivers who are not as attentive as they should be, speeders, and no proper crosswalk or median for pedestrians to have some sense of protection. I’m not sure there’s much the store owner can do (he does not own and thus cannot modify sidewalks, curbing, barriers, crosswalks, warning lights). Sounds like when / where the owner can, he’s added parking. And I guess any pedestrian who crosses where there is not a crosswalk is Jaywalking. But I think the goal is less about assigning blame, and getting to some potential resolutions. It seems the city recognizes the problem, and has a multi-point plan to make some good / needed improvements. It’s just frustrating for all how slowly the wheels of progress turn when government is involved.

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