Cranky Yellow has stopped. Nearly 3 months after speaking up about grievances with the complexities of Saint Louis City process, they’ve managed to complicate Cranky once again. It’s disappointing, discouraging, and down right frustrating.

No one is looking for sympathy… We’re looking for solutions.

Our landlord phoned and said he has received a letter from Saint Louis City Hall. The letter states that Cranky Yellow does not have the proper permits for “assemblies” in the basement. “Assemblies” refers to the plethora of independent art exhibitions, musical performances and theater acts we’ve hosted since moving into the space nearly 3 years ago. Or more scholarly: A group of people gathered together in one place for a common purpose. Yeah, that sounds like Cranky!


Since the beginning of Cranky Yellow I have aimed to provide an open, safe and progressive space for exhibiting local/international art, performance and music. I’ve always lived/worked in multi-use spaces to make the absolute best of the little I have to utilize (both funds and square feet). Working with the open basement doubles the square foot size of Cranky Yellow and allows for more collaboration with artists and musicians creating in our city. Sharing a common ground for many purposes.


I rent the entire building as a small business entrepreneur and citizen of Saint Louis. I am proud to call the diverse Cherokee Street home. I feel an absolute necessity to find use for what I’ve been lucky enough to have. This problem is no exception. I upgraded Cranky into the current space at the onslaught of the national Economic melt-down of 2008. I found a way to grow my business while big-banks were being bailed out; all without their loans or credit.

Any amount of growth in Saint Louis should be received with open arms and seriously nurtured by city officials. Much of the city’s historic brick architecture lays empty and in ill-repair. The spaces that are occupied are filled by hardworking citizens of the city. People that are often times in charge of the future of their jobs or the future of their business.

While the entire country is buzzing about the state of the economy we need to focus on the diversity and local achievements in our communities. The successes that allow existing buildings to have tenants. I truly believe that EVERY small-business and independently operated space, regardless of trade or mission, deserves to be helped by those elected to make our city better. The complex nature of city process should not fall on our shoulders. We should be assisted and promoted not disrupted and tangled in tricky bureaucracy.


The “assemblies” that are in violation consist of our friends, fans and patrons. The people that love and support Cranky Yellow. You spend your dollars here and help keep our doors open! The individuals that illegally “assemble” here represent 35% of our monthly income. An influx of funds that is seriously helpful; without which it will be difficult to meet our monthly expenses! I can’t explain how hurtful it is to lose that important income due to the city’s legal expectations.

I always wonder to myself what people think about Cranky Yellow. Whether it is important enough to continue struggling forward. Is our space more useful closed? Does our city have a preconceived plan of abandonment? Do city officials favor the Starbucks and Walgreens over grass-roots development? I’m constantly engrossed in the hardships of staying open and it is easy to be in bad spirits. Resolution + Failure: Do violations make us sexy?



+ Cranky has hosted hundreds of acts including many of the local bands nominated for Best of Saint Louis Music Awards. We have had indie folk, hardcore punk, heavy metal, accapella pop, hip-hop and things beyond avant garde.

+ We’ve supported numerous theater groups. Ranging from a Beowulf puppet show to the Amazing Acro Cat Circus and multiple variety/comedy shows in between.

+ Our monthly art exhibitions showcase local artists and national group shows. We highlight the strange and often over-looked artwork of up and coming artists. We always strive to share art.

+ During our additional late night hours we’ve been a safe haven for multiple individuals jumped and battered on the street. Ice provided for wounds and telephone service to notify the police.

+ Cranky was recently praised for saving Cinco De Mayo’s Gringo Stage performance. The Mayor even tweeted that people should come out and see our “non-arena” music. He’s right about one thing: Cranky is NOT an arena.



Cranky is unfortunately closing the doors for an indefinite amount of time starting JULY 1st. We’ve wrapped our window in yellow inspiration. It is time to re-work the space and attempt to find the necessary support/funding to get up to city code. I’m honestly scared to find out how much their regulations might cost or if it is even viable to continue. Sorry friends, no music or art at Cranky for awhile. We promise to work hard and get back on our toes soon; here is to hoping Saint Louis City Hall helps make that a reality.

In closing:
I’m very proud of Cranky Yellow. I love the crankiness out there and I’m so inspired by everyone that has ever supported this vision! I’m confident and ready to find solutions. Cranky will not be forced out or compromised!


Leave comments, thoughts and insight! Share this article! Let us know your perspective! We need your help! Together to the future of Cranky!

We just need time to figure it out. We’re excited to share everything as we move forward.

<3 Cranky David & the Cranky Yellow Team

(P.S. Thank you Amanda Beard, Jarred Gastreich, Jenn Breman, and Stephen Houldsworth for the photos used above. Awesome)

Cranky David
I started Cranky Yellow in 2005 and I haven't stopped for a moment moving forward. I oversee nearly everything CY related. In my free time I enjoy biology, crafting monsters and assorted philosophy.

36 thoughts on “CRANKY STOPPED”

    1. so does Baltimore, MD! A friend big in the scene here & hugely about what you do &supporting local art &music shared your article &so I found it. I’m sure many others will as well. Here’s to you &hoping this exposure helps get you whatever you need to stay up &running! Keep doing what you do! 🙂

  1. what’s preventing you from acquiring the proper permits for “assemblies?”

    anyway good luck, this was/is my favorite place for music in st louis

  2. this is really sad but lets be serious. most businesees do what they gotta do to be legal why would you be any exception. dont gimme a sob story about having to comply with the law. yeah the city makes it hard but it aint their fault you werent up to code. you have a responsibility to follow the law. now get yer damn permits and reopen so we can party!

    1. Agreed! Complaining about this like you’re an exception is a slap in the face to other local business owners (like myself) who work just as hard to stay open and support art. Owning a business can be expensive, but if we all have to follow the city regulations, why don’t you?

      You were irresponsible about your business, and now you whine about it and all these kids talk about how it’s such an outrage. It’s not an outrage. Just get up to date and stop neglecting the rules and you won’t have this problem.

      1. The question gets to be when does your customer crowd get to be an assembly and quit being just a good group of customers on a busy day/night? Is it because the crowd is assembled in the evening, after the 9 to 5 ers have gone home? If you have more business at your shop than could be expected from an ebay business is it a crowd? Is it an assembly? This isn’t just whining. It is a legitimate issue.
        My guess is that this business has been sort of singled out because of it’s counterculture clientelle more than because of any actual lawbreaking. If you want the city to remain it’s shrinking, withering group of dry cleaning shops and small chain stores, just throw out anything new or exciting on some obscure technicality. Don’t forget to keep the thug politics. That always helps the image.
        Your businesses won’t do better if one more closes down and becomes a vacant city property like the more than 10,000 moldering dumps that the city already owns, via the LRA. Many of them were taken at the expense of some interested, but broke business or homeowner.

  3. My 6 year old wanted to go to the store the other day. I asked him “What store?” He said, “The best store ever-CRANKY YELLOW.” True story. That miniature circular saw you sold him made quite an impression. Let me know if I can help out. In a non- monetary way, being that I’m a broke-ass 🙂

  4. i have no doubt in my mind you can make these changes happen. there is just too much love and community support for this gotta keep it up as long as you can. this city hall regulation — you’ll figure out how to make solutions. and then there will be another big challenge, and then you’ll fix that one too. and another and another will keep you finding solutions. And for so many reasons; one of them being because you have people from all over the neighborhood and the city and the nation who demand you keep going. seriously, once you go wonder emporium, you don’t go back. i mean, duh, everybody knows that.
    let me know if there’s anything i can do to help. i love cranky yellow heart and soul.

  5. Thanks for doing the damn thing. This city needs an outlet and you have done us justice. Let me know if there is anything I can do! And thank you for letting me and my groups be a part of what you do!

  6. No!
    David! I tell people here in philly about cranky yellow all the time!
    It gives me hope that people can take control over their lives without having million dollars and support from big buisinesses!
    Are you still living in the space? Let me know if I can help in someway.
    I’ve been trying to get my mommy in chesterfield to come and buy stuff at the store and support you in someway!
    Can we call the newspapers and bring this situation to a wider audience. I think cranky yellow is soooo valuable!

  7. This is exactly the way that St. Louis manages to shoot itself in the foot repeatedly. An area, like cherokee street, starts to become revitalized. 10-15 yeas ago it was mostly closed shops, prostitutes, mugging, and crack. Now it is really beginning to turn around, mostly because innovative people are encouraging artists to come and share their creations with others, and those others come down to see them from all over. When they do, they buy tacos, and clothes, and records, and patronize cherokee street and surrounding areas.

    So leave it up to St. Louis City to try to find a way to screw that up by regulating the hell out of it and getting their money “up front” through permits, and then regulation of goofy crap that does not need to be regulated, thereby stifling all the natural kinetic energy that surrounds Cranky.

    Was there some problem they are trying to rectify? Is the building unsafe? Is it creating some sort of problem? No, they just want their pound of flesh, and don’t seem to care that they are, in the process, threatening one of the best new places in all of St. Louis, and on Cherokee.

    Just let Cranky do what it does naturally, and organically, and you will get your money through sales taxes 7 fold.

    1. thats life in the big city man! there have to be regulations or else shit gets outta control. a lot of busineses have no problem doin what they gotta do to be legit. cranky yellow needs to stop bein lazy and get their shit together!

  8. It’s sad that you’re closing for now. Just please re-open as soon as you can. Cranky Yellow is a fantastic and one-of-a-kind space, and a lot of fun!

  9. Yeah what’s the explanation? Where are you in the permit application process? How much does it cost?

  10. i was glad to be apart of it when and while I was and I would be happy to help again in any ways. love yall.

  11. This is sad, but I’m excited to see the changes when CY reopens. Hopefully it won’t be long. We’re here to help as always!

  12. David and Jake, I love you both dearly and I’m sad to hear the news. If there’s anything I can do, whether a small monetary donation or word-of-mouth spreading, let me know please. I don’t want to see something you’ve worked so hard at and are so passionate about just fall like a house of cards. Get in touch.

  13. Oh no! My world just got a little dimmer without the light of Cranky in it. David, wishing you giant scissors to cut through the red tape quickly and re-open. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

  14. Cranky Yellow is not only a hub in this community but has managed to extend its arms through international art shows, hosting touring musicians and not to mention the 100s of people who sell their creations in the shop. If it closes it will be a tragidy for St Louis as a whole and will undoubtably break a whole lot of optimistic hearts. Mine included!

    Perhaps its not too late to call Cranky supporters together in an effort pool resources, ideas, and dreams with a goal of developing a plan towards future sustainabilty? Isn’t that what blank yellow window is for?!!! David, when and where can we “assemble”? From the looks of it, quite a few of us are willing to lend our support.

  15. Ahhh David, I’m so sorry to hear about this!! There never has been & never will be another store like Cranky Yellow & that is what make it so spectactular. If there is any way at all that I can help, please let me know!!

  16. David you know I’m behind you 100% and although I feel closing the store is the saddest part of my summer I know that Cranky can bounce back and be better than ever when it reopens it’s doors. Cranky Yellow is an amazing place that greeted me with open arms like I had been a part of the team all along. Team Cranky Yellow is my Collective Soulmate and I will carry it to saftey like Kevin Costner carried Whitney Houston in that scene in The Bodyguard if need be….

    But I am gonna rant for a min about what I have seen happening in Cranky Yellow

    Cranky Yellow has been nothing but the best to local artists, musicians and their audiences…even the ones that trashed the basement/store/bathrooms. I mean for fuck’s sake someone stole the door knob off of the back door. Hey jackass, we needed that knob to stay up to fire code. Granted it’s just a door knob but when your already battling the city over bullshit trash charges (because someone was mad CY were supporting the opposition in a city election) and trying to make enough money to keep the doors open, do you really think Cranky needs to deal with buying shit like new doors, buying paint to cover all of the graffiti put up by people in the bathroom or scour the gunk that has built up from all of your sweaty bodies in the basement?

    To be up to codes to even be able to reopen the store David will have to deal with replacing stupid shit like that. Please understand everything you do in that space had repercussions and costs for David that in turn hurt the store and in my opinion completely disrespected the people who work hard to make Cranky Yellow great.

    These were things that David wasn’t planning on when he opened the basement space for music and has learned lessons from it that will help make it better next time, but it’s all of the stupid little things that build up page long lists for David to take care of is very overwhelming for a person who doesn’t know where to start. That is why David needs your responses to what you think the store should do. Just stating that he needs to get his shit together or get those permits is just stating the obvious. David knows what needs to be done he just needs help doing it and that is what I have been trying to do for Cranky since I met them.

    Cranky Yellow needs your support not only to spread the word about how the city sends most small businesses in circles of red tape but to get the reactions of those that love Cranky Yellow to remind him how much happiness his wonder emporium brings people. It’s the kindness of friends and strangers that keeps him pumped about what he does. Keep David Pumped and Cranky Yellow will be back faster!!!! Leave cranky yellow and David ideas, love notes, or donations because that is what will make all of our dreams come true!

    Now don’t think that I am hating on the musicians and artists that came through the store because I am not nor am I sending any bad feelings to Joe Hess. Cranky Yellow loves Joe and all of the acts and fans that he brought there. No one is to blame for those bad apples except themselves and they probably don’t care about what they did or Cranky Yellow anyway. (Doomtown we know your sorry about the Alpaca this rant is not aimed at you either.)

    Bottom Line: It’s one thing to love Cranky Yellow and it’s another to support it and I would really like to see more people support it through stronger actions than just posting and sharing things on the internet. I know those things help out but I also know how much needs to be done for the store in the real world. I have ideas to run by David on how to get people to physically help Cranky Yellow through some good old school street teaming and elbow grease. Hopefully he will like them and let everyone know about them as soon as he can.

  17. If occupancy is an issue you might be able to flip flop the spaces. Have events upstairs and retail downstairs. Not sure what violations you may have on a basement venue, but the upstairs may be easier to get passed. Just a thought. Best of luck kids. It’s not easy out there.

  18. Let us know who we need to call/petition to get help with this problem. Downtown has a problem with building up independent business then crushing it. (remember the Creepy Crawl?)

    There’s a support community that can help, fundraiser too if needed.

    Also- I’ve still got artwork up there, what do I do? Need to get my work organized.

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