Spin in the No-Spin Zone

Some folks deserve our congratulations (kisses, Wash. U.!), some our patronage (we love Don Bellon's beautiful, found-object-filled deli) and still others our furrowed brow (hijinx on Bill O'Reilly's Web site: wha'?)

A wrecking company/deli combo may seem as mismatched as a salsiccia sub with peanut butter, but Bellon's 22-year-old son, Danny, has transformed the old salvage warehouse into Bellon's Market, a showcase of recycled décor that includes a mosaic floor made from busted marble and walls covered in oak paneling from Mark Twain's nephew's house. Bellon's 25-year-old daughter, Carrie, has formulated a menu of sandwiches, St. Louis-style pizza and salads.

Every item in the deli has a story, which Bellon family members have recited to a growing number of patrons since the doors opened in July. The massive oak bar that houses the soda fountain once graced the Lenox Hotel downtown; the cast-iron gates in the entry were used in Otis elevators before modern doors were invented; the tabletops are made of marble from local seminaries; the arched terra-cotta window façades once adorned the Sheldon theater.

Don Bellon has built a business tearing things down. Thanks to nature, neglect or politics, nearly 2,000 St. Louis buildings have fallen to his wrecking balls and bulldozers. He got into the demo business after his father, Mario Bellon, closed his grocery store on the near north side in the mid-1970s. When the family bought the property on the corner of Vandeventer and Chouteau in 1997, the lot was overgrown and the building was dilapidated. The rehab has added momentum to revitalization efforts already under way in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood, which is bordered by Kingshighway, Hunt Avenue, Vandeventer and Highway 40.

"I'm not a believer in tearing things down," Don Bellon says. "You can reuse a lot of things. So much craftsmanship went into this stuff. Everything is fake now. You even got fake rocks now."

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