Rosie’s Tamale House has been a BYOB attraction for some locals for 39 years.
The restaurant is bare except for a large, electrically lit velvet riverboat wall hanging that customers Don Gray and friend Ben Rehder loved to see. It has been five years since the lights went out on the velvet waterfront, encasing the fictional St. Louis riverboat travelers depicted on the artwork in total darkness.
“It’s a funny story,” said Gray, a longtime Rosie’s fan. “The lights had been out for about five years now, and no one seemed to care.”
Apparently, tired of leveling the gaudy picture, restaurant owner Rosie Arriaga’s boys decided it would be easier to nail the picture into the sheet rock wall, avoiding the cumbersome task all together.
“Well, when it came time to change the lights, you just couldn’t do it [because of the nails],” said Gray, who later tackled the light problem after removing the painting from the wall. “It wasn’t that hard. We just put in another new string of Christmas lights.”
Ensuring that the lights were working and the painting would be restored to its former glory, on Aug. 31 it was relit amid dedicated patrons. Arriaga did the honors while others donned sombreros for the occasion. Sixty people, as well as Mayor Caroline Murphy, were there for the celebration.
According to Gray, with the restaurant now surrounded by trendy Mexican food stops, the twinkling red, yellow and blue riverboat lights encased in black velvet is a welcome sight.
“Rosie plugged the lights in,” Gray said. "And the world’s been a better place ever since.”