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Former Esicar's up for auctionPosted Friday, August 12, 2011, at 1:23 PM
The business has been closed since the building was ravaged by fire in March.
It sustained an estimated $300,000 in damage from the fire, according to the Cape Girardeau Fire Department. The cause was determined to be electrical.
The auction of the three-story building, its contents and the one-acre site it sits on will be held by Brucker Auction Service Sunday, Aug. 21, at noon.
Included in the items up for sale is Esicar's original brass cash register, antique furniture, meat processing equipment, coolers, and a concession trailer.
Originally founded at 411 Broadway by Edgar Esicar, the business moved the building on North Kingshighway in 1951. The Esicar family closed the business in 2007. It was purchased in 2008 by Jack Whisnant, who operated it as Old Hickory Specialty Meats.
Many in Cape Girardeau and the surrounding area have fond memories of Esicar's bacon and hams. The sweet aroma of smoked meats was intoxicating to anyone who walked through its doors.
At the time it closed in 2007, the company shipped 2,000 hams and 4,000 slabs of bacon at Christmas every year.
A slice of Esicar's bacon was special Saturday morning treat growing up in the Miller house. When I saw that unfolded white butcher paper package on the kitchen counter and my dad at the stove, I knew deliciousness was about to be delivered.
Since the March fire, I've received many calls from Esicar's fans, one as far away as New York, asking if and when the business would reopen. Despite my digging, all the phone numbers I could find for the business and its owner had been disconnected.
Seeing the sign on Kingshighway, now, we know the business' unfortunate fate.
UPDATE: 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12
After speaking with owner Jack Whisnant, he said there were several different factors involved in his decision not to reopen the business.
"The fire was the catalyst, but I didn't get enough out of the insurance to do it and we're in a vastly different banking era now than we were when I bought that place," he said. "With all the economic turmoil and how much I would have to borrow, I just couldn't in good conscience do it."
Whisnant said he really enjoyed owning business and will miss working there.
"Forever I'll cherish the friendships I made there. I really appreciate the support and loyalty of the people of Cape Girardeau," he said.
He hopes to eventually open a similar business at another location and said he's currently working outside the Cape Girardeau area in southern Missouri. He will retain ownership of Esicar's recipes.
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Melissa Miller is business editor at The Southeast Missourian. A graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School, she's worked as a reporter, photographer, editor and as the executive director of two not-for-profit organizations. After living in Michigan and then Indiana, she moved back to her hometown of Jackson, Mo. In addition to writing daily stories for The Southeast Missourian, Melissa coordinates editorial content each month for Business Today. Business Today is a monthly publication for southeast Missouri's business community. Monthly themes include health care, agriculture, women in business, technology and more. Business Today is direct mailed to business owner and managers throughout southeast Missouri and southern Illinois. Follow her updates on local business developments at www.twitter.com/semissourianbiz or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MelissaMillerSoutheastMissourian