ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Josh Ivey started Up-Down in 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa. Initially, he says it was to compliment his music venue to try encouraging people to get there early and stay later.
Then, it took off. Requests for games kept coming in, so he kept buying new games. Eventually Up-Down outgrew the space in Des Moines and, instead of opening a second location, Ivey decided to expand — first to Kansas City and later Minneapolis.
Now, he wants to come to St. Louis. Specifically the vibrant, upscale Central West End.
“It’s undeniably a cool building with nooks and crannies and basement space,” Ivey says of the building he wants to lease at 405 N. Euclid — the site of the former Herbie’s Vintage 72 (before it moved to Clayton) and Balaban’s. “We just knew that … we could do something really cool with that space.”
Ivey describes Up-Down as a “chill” bar where people can come, play games and enjoy a variety of craft beers. He says most of his clientele is older than 30 and most of his money is made before 10 p.m.
That, he says, is why the Central West End is perfect.
“It’s not a knucklehead bar concept,” Ivey tells KMOX. “People very much are coming to our place to play games.”
But not everyone is on board. CWE resident Liz Heller told the “Riverfront Times” she’s challenging Ivey’s liquor license application.
Heller believes this type of place belongs on Washington Avenue downtown, or in the Grove district along Manchester Avenue in Forest Park Southeast.
“It isn’t a food place,” she told the paper. “It’s really a bar. In the history of the West End, there have been plenty of restaurants that have come in — and we haven’t objected to any, in 15 to 20 years.
“Quite frankly, I don’t think they understand where they were going or what they were getting themselves into. The Central West End is not an entertainment district.”
The Central West End is a mixed-use district, but is well known for its plentiful bars and nightlife, especially along Euclid. Up-Down would be flanked by, among other establishments, Pi and Mission Taco — the owner of the latter establishment has already expressed his support for Up-Down.
Because of the petition, Ivey needs to get support from 51 percent of business owners and registered voters in the area — otherwise he can’t open.
That would be a shame, Ivey says, as he’s lived in St. Louis for several months trying to prepare for the launch and he’s already spent a considerable sum on the efforts.