Article By Astrid Zeppenfeld
Driving down highway 64/40 the other day, I passed the Swedish furniture store IKEA. Having established itself in St. Louis in the fall of 2015, this store is jam-packed at any given time of the day, every day of the week. Famous for its low-cost, at-home-assembly furniture around the world, insiders also appreciate the cafeteria-style dining hall restaurant and the food shop at checkout. As I was contemplating my own IKEA shopping list, mentally walking around the store among the various displays, my mind wandered to said dining hall and the crawfish dinner event my family recently attended there. Next to the all-you-can-eat crawfish buffet, IKEA offered its Swedish Knäckebröd and vegetable/meatballs that this restaurant is well-known for.
Which got me thinking… would IKEA be a good place to hold a company meeting, especially for companies with Swedish roots or subsidiaries? Could, for instance, Polygon US Corporation in St. Louis, rent out the IKEA restaurant to hold its annual meetings? The parent company Polygon AB is located in Sweden and wouldn’t it be neat to be able to bring together the business and cultural roots of the company event in one of its showrooms and serve IKEA food at the dealership to create that cultural bridge between its Swedish root and its American presence?
And surely this bridging of the cultures at business meetings and events is not limited to Swedish companies and Swedish food. There must be other culturally significant, international venues in and around Missouri which lend themselves to being used for business gatherings of any sorts. So I set out to find them. For German companies located in Missouri, like Siemens or Daimler AG, I figured that would be a fairly easy endeavor, in light of the official German Heritage Corridor, which Gov. Nixon signed into law last year on July 1st.
The first site was pretty obvious since I had just been there for the Oktoberfest-Celebration in September (see Oktoberfest-story titled “Business auf Bayrisch – Business Bavarian Style”), but I did find a few more that might render themselves useful”
- German Cultural Society – Donau Park in House Springs, MO
- German Cultural Society – Jefferson Hall in the city of St. Louis
- Breweries run by Germans, such as the Hofbräuhaus across the river in Belleville, IL or UCBC in the Grove
- Wineries along the German Heritage Corridor, such as Blumenhof Winery in Dutzow or Hermann Wine Trail and Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, MO
- Restaurants or bakeries for small gatherings, such as Sucrose in St. Charles or La Bonne Bouchée in Creve Coeur, both featuring delightful European desserts and/or small plates.
- ““Autohäuser”, car dealerships selling German cars. I have recently learned that some car dealerships rent out their showrooms for events. A favored event to rent out the showroom for seems to be a fundraiser, so if you are a not-for-profit organization, you might consider holding your next fundraising event at one of the car dealership that offer this opportunity.
Certainly, this is not at all limited to German car dealerships, or wineries, for that matter. For an Italian company in Missouri, try a FIAT dealership. And for a French company, maybe check out some of the wineries around Ste. Genevieve, like Chaumette or La Chance, touted as “Wineries with a French twist” by the St. Louis Post Dispatch back in August of this year. There are plenty of additional venues in Missouri which could host your next successful company meeting or other event. Cultural aspects could be tied in both via meeting space, as well as food and beverages served. Bon appétit!
Astrid Zeppenfeld is a contributing writer and MM&E’s editor/business development manager from St. Louis.