A St. Louis Tradition
Ted Drewes has been selling frozen custard and Christmas trees for decades, with an attention to quality that has made his trees and custard the finest in St. Louis.
It all started when Ted Sr. opened his first ice cream store in Florida in 1929, followed the next year by an other store on Natural Bridge in St. Louis and the South Grand store in 1931. In 1941 the family opened a second south side stand which is the current Chippewa location, old route 66. By 1958, the south side stands were all that remained.
According to Ted Jr., the success of the operation has brought it nationwide attention in the form of offers to franchise the stands. He said such offers pour in quite frequently. However he has never agreed to franchise and he says that he never will.
"It is a matter of quality. Franchising could lead to mediocrity," Ted notes with a shake of his head.
Ted credits much of his success to his father. Ted Sr. was a St. Louis attraction, winning the tennis Muny championships each year from 1926 to 1935. He also won the National Public Parks title four straight years in the middle 1920's.
"I remember just before dad died, that was nearly 31 years ago, I asked him then if he was ever mad that I didn't become a tennis star like him," Ted said. "He said, how could you? You were always working."
And it is work that brings Ted to Nova Scotia each fall, where he personally selects the best Canadian balsam Fir Christmas trees to bring home to St. Louis.
Like Ted's Frozen Custard, a Ted Drewes Christmas tree has become a St. Louis tradition for many, and he's happy about that.
"We have people buy their trees from us year after year, and they don't even know we sell ice cream!" Ted exclaims.