The wake for Mike Karanzdieff last night was so well attended that there was only overflow parking. Hundreds of persons showed up to pay their respects to the family. The wait to view the body was like the wait at Crown Candy Kitchen for a table during lunchtime: over an hour. The line was so long that the mortuary served Dixie cups of iced water to the waiting mourners.
Mike Karanzdieff was the legendary soda jerk at Crown Candy Kitchen for almost 40 years. He was the oldest of three brothers who took over the restaurant and confectionery from their father, George. George's father, Harry started Crown when waves of immigrants were still coming through Old North St Louis and the 14th Street Mall was a vibrant business strip, 99 years before.
Mike had a sunny smile when he talked about his favorite sports teams, the Rams and the Cardinals. Otherwise, he was a curmudgeon, all business in scooping the homemade ice cream for malts and sundaes. (All the employees argued over whom Mike fired the most times, but he had a kind heart and almost always hired them back). Mike was a big supporter of the "Pink Sisters" and STL Police.
The mourners were a "who's who" in St Louis Society, ranging from employees and former employees to clergy to the Brass of the St Louis City Police to the Greek and Italian communities. (George was a Macedonian Greek; he married Bessie, an Italian). Several "tail gate" parties sprang up out of the back of vehicles on the parking lot "because Mike would have liked that", said one employee.
Today there will be another visitation at 10:00a.m. followed by the funeral at 11:00a.m. at St John Lutheran Church in Ellisville. A motorcade will then convey the body down Highway 40/64 to Old North St Louis, passing Crown Candy Kitchen, and then proceeding to the crematorium at I-70 and Lucas and Hunt. If you see the funeral procession, honk your horn, and raise your malt glass to Mike Karanzdieff!