South Side District

July 19, 2017

Written by Miles Ramsay | Photos by Alysa Ramsay


DEFINITION: A burning determination that cannot be stopped or hindered by anything; Extremely resilient.

The Southside Fall Festival, the best steaks in town, and of course, the best fried chicken you’ve ever had. There’s a lot to love about St. Joseph’s Southside! This tight-knit community is on pace for a major comeback.

Galvin’s Dinner House Owner Bill Grace says a cast iron skillet is the ONLY way to cook South Side St. Joseph’s famous fried chicken.

“I think people can taste the difference.”

Cast iron has earned a reputation in the culinary realm of being one of the most resilient materials in the world. Grace says the cookware at Galvin’s has certainly proven that to be true.

“I’ve been here myself 45 years…and many of those cast iron skillets were here before I came. All of them survived the fire we had in 2010…the kitchen was destroyed but the skillets survived. We pulled them out of the ashes, cleaned them up, and they’re still going.”

Resilient, seasoned, tried by fire – you can’t help but draw the comparison between Galvin’s cast iron skillets and the South Side. It’s a tight-knit community with a gritty fortitude, an uncanny ability to bounce back, and an unmistakable pride in who they are and where they come from.

The South Side has long contributed to the city’s economic growth. Some of its more mature residents reminisce about the glory days when the district was THE hot spot in St. Joseph, boasting rodeos, fine dining at one of the Midwest’s earliest resorts, and a popular amusement park at Lake Contrary with elephants, bathing beauties, and roller coasters.

As flood waters and fires plagued some parts of the district over the years, the development of the city moved east and north while the South Side began to fade from the spotlight. South Side Rotary Club President Martial Thevenot says, when his business, Perka Buildings, first moved to the district, he was warned about the area’s unfortunate aura. What he found, however, was the polar opposite of negativity.

“The people are very down to earth in this part of town. They’re very neighborly.”

Thevenot also compliments the businesses and organizations working to fix up aging properties.

These days, as you drive down Stockyards Expressway, you’ll find clean, high-tech companies settling in. Animal science, meat processing, leather products and pet food businesses all rise from the location of the former St. Joseph Stockyards that anchored the area for at least 130 years. While these industrial and manufacturing jobs are the lifeblood of the South Side, there’s far more to be explored.

Wanna sink your teeth into a juicy, hand cut, wood fire grilled steak? Hoof and Horn Steak House is ready to take your order! This century old staple in St. Joseph’s landscape was recently reopened by new owners who received help from Missouri Western’s Craig School of Business Center for Entrepreneurship. Got a hankerin’ for some garden fresh fruits and veggies? Check out the South Side Farmer’s Market at The Junction! In addition to being a delicious source of local produce, this revitalization project is working to develop an arts and entertainment destination. Don’t forget the legendary breakfast served up at Betty’s Cafe or a torpedo sandwich for lunch at Marek’s.

And there’s no better place to work off some of those added calories than the 2,300-acre Bluff Woods Conservation Area. Just a few minutes from the South Side, this 2,300 acre hiker’s paradise features rugged trails, accessible Missouri River scenic overlook trails, and bird watching opportunities.

And lest we forget, it’s not officially autumn until you’ve been to the South Side Fall Festival.

As new business matriculates toward the area, Grace has a simple message for South Side residents referencing the district’s 238 area code, “Hold your head high, look forward to a bright future, and keep wearing the term “238er” like a badge of honor!”

“South Side folks are tough as nails and they’re gonna survive. I see revival!”


Across the city, every day, adults are helping clear a path for youth to reach more opportunities. They are sharing their mentoring skills, life lessons and ultimately, their friendship, through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. And it looks like hanging out at the local burger joint. Taking a walk. Joining other “matches” at the park for crafting with a lot of laughs.


If you ask him about his career playing and coaching tennis, he’ll tell you he just hopes that people try the sport.


For 100 years, the iconic Cherry Mash has been made in St. Joseph. The combination of peanuts, chocolate and cherry fondant is the third-oldest continuously made candy bar in the country.


Built in 1873, the Buchanan County Courthouse, with its majestic white pointed dome, stands as an architectural icon during the day and casts a warm stately glow over downtown St. Joseph in the evening light.


Not only does the SBTDC help hundreds of small business owners capitalize on their dreams, it is a great example of how government agencies, higher education, and nonprofit organizations can work together for the greater good.