Crown Center cafe seeks volunteers, J Associates plans Dancing in the Loop

By Lois Caplan

EXCITEMENT ABOUNDS at Crown Center for Senior Living, where the Circle@Crown Center Café will shortly open its doors to residents and eventually to the public. When I visited last week, I was amazed at how complete it is, with the most up-to-date furnishings and restaurant equipment. However, one significant element is missing (which you, my readers, can help with): The café needs volunteers — not the envelope-stuffing, hand-addressing usual kind of volunteer, but cashiers, hostesses, greeters and all kinds of restaurant helpers. 

Jean Milner, the professional manager who will cook, plan menus, and generally supervise the operation of Circle@Crown Café, said volunteers will be trained for their roles at the café, which will serve breakfast and lunch to augment the weeknight dinners Crown Center already provides.

“We are not opening a restaurant,” notes Randi Schenberg, Crown Center’s Community Relations Director. “This is a program of Crown Center to meet the needs of the residents, who come first.” 

The café menu will be “based on health and wellness,” with small portions and modest costs for the food, all of which will be available to go, Schenberg said.

Among the new amenities at Crown is a culinary kitchen where guest chefs and baristas can teach cooking, like cooking for one. Just as Crown Center has developed partnerships with organizations, such as OASIS and COCA, the Café is in partnership with Breadsmith for bakery goods and Kaldi’s for coffee and tea. 

There is a new entrance to Circle@Crown Café. It is available to non-residents and is entered through the new patio where, in season, there will be tables and umbrellas. Even though it was a bitterly cold day when I visited, the patio looked attractive and inviting, and I could see a lot of you volunteers enjoying the sunshine after serving lunch.

Café hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. To become a Circle@Crown volunteer, call Schenberg at 314-991-2055.

ST. LOUISAN NANCY SOKOLIK has penned a recently published children’s book, “Marvelous Marty and the Raging Guitars.” It concerns a small boy named Marty who is worried about Arnel, a newcomer to his classroom. Together with his teacher, Marty plans a good experience for Arnel. As with most children’s stories, this turns out well for everyone while teaching a simple lesson. The illustrations are colorful and charmingly drawn. Sokolik has been a teacher and administrator for 25 years. She is very modest about “Marvelous Marty,” which is a Mascot Book, costs $14.95 and is available at

HERE’S A REMINDER – make your reservations soon for the J Associates Dancing in the Loop event March 7 at The Pageant. If you RSVP through Feb. 15, tickets are $100 — after which, the price increases to $125. This year’s event will be emceed by my boss, Light Editor Ellen Futterman, who is always fun and funny. Dancing in the Loop teams St. Louis dancers with Simply Ballroom dancers. The evening includes cocktails, dinner buffet, dessert and dance competition. Proceeds from the event will support Jewish Community Center programs and scholarships. Contact Lisa Vento for more information: 314-442-3162.

“WALKING THE TIGHTROPE,” a touring production from Los Angeles’ 24th Street Theatre, is booked for COCA’s theatre on Feb. 21 and 22.  The show has been nominated for 17 awards for acting, music, video design and more. Thoughtfully written by one of London’s most prolific writers for children, the show tells a sweet and moving story of a grandfather and granddaughter building a new relationship now that grandma is gone. Audiences will be transported to a quaint English seaside town in 1959 with the help of a magical clown and sophisticated video projections. For tickets and more information, contact Kelly Moffitt at [email protected]

 HAVE YOU EVER WANTED to perform on the stage of the Fox Theatre? St. Louis kids will have that opportunity when the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation holds its Fifth Annual St. Louis teen talent competition beginning Feb. 28 and March 1. Student acts this year include singers, dancers, musicians and circus artists competing as soloists or in groups of up to six people. This year’s entries are from 73 schools in the area. More than $30,000 in scholarships and prizes will be distributed among the top competitors. Mary Strauss, President of the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation Board of Directors, says that she is thrilled with the response from the students who registered for the competition, and who are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to shine on the stage of the Fox. The final competition will take place at 8 p.m. April 24. For more information, including a list of this year’s teens participating, visit