Strip commercial development on streets carrying transit lines developed early on the perimeter of Washington Heights on Delmar from DeBaliviere into University City and along DeBaliviere and Skinker. Internal commercial uses were located on Kingsbury and Pershing at the River des Peres. Among the better known commercial uses were two restaurants both of which dated back before 1920. These were Joe Garavelli's at DeBaliviere and DeGiverville and Cafferata's at Delmar and Hamilton. The former was a favorite west end fixture presided over by its geni'al host who had a national reputation for fine food and service. Cafferata's has long since disappeared as did its neighbor the old Park, later Pershing Theater, at 5915 Delmar. This theater began as a legitimate playhouse at the time of the World's Fair and in later years became a movie house with an adjoining outdoor summer theater. The movie theater which served the area for the longest time was the Pageant on Delmar at Laurel beginning back in the silent era before the first World War and surviving until the fifties.
Another early movie house was the Delmonte on Delmar east of DeBaliviere. Opened about 1920, it did not survive the transition to sound pictures and was converted into a bowling alley. The Pageant also had a "skydome" open air theater at the southeast corner of Delmar and Laurel during the silent picture period. The Dorr and Zeller Catering Company, which did a citywide business, built an elaborate building at the northwest corner of Waterman and DeBaliviere in the early 1920's. However, the firm moved from that location after World War II. A prominent commercial landmark for many years was Moll's grocery store on Delmar at the end of DeBaliviere. This quality store with its famous sidewalk clock standard was a forerunner of the present day supermarket type of retailer. Two other well known West End groceries in the early days were Miller's on Kingsbury and the River des Peres and Conrad's on DeBaliviere near Waterman. DeBaliviere Avenue between 1920 and 1950 was a street of considerable commercial importance with major chain drug and food stores, the Apollo Theater, a Parkmoor and Steve the Watermelon man's place at Pershing Avenue, which was a popular rendezvous for streetcar men.
After World War II, DeBaliviere began to go the way of Gaslight Square, becoming a street of cheap bars and night clubs, which exerted a negative influence over the surrounding neighborhood. Delmar has also undergone changes from its earlier days although not as drastic as on DeBaliviere. The closing of the Wabash Railroad's Delmar Station caused a drop in activity on the sector west of DeBaliviere. There has been a minimal amount of commercial activity on Skinker, at Pershing and near Delmar.
Image - Joe Garavelli's Restaurant at DeBaliviere and Degiverville in 1932
Image - Delmar and Hamilton in 1928, showing Cafferata's D pershing Theatre
Image - Dorr and Zeller Catering Company Building
Image - A. Moll Grocer Company at Delmar and DeBaliviere, 1948