Bringing a little giddy-up to downtown

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

After a week or so of putting me off, Shery Varney has finally ponied up her new business idea -- offering horse-drawn carriage rides in downtown Cape Girardeau.

Starting this weekend or next, the rides will take people around the downtown area, while tuxedo-clad drivers give people a brief history of the area and the Mississippi River.

"This is a novel thing in our area," Varney said. "I'm thinking the clientele will be tourists and college kids. It's a nostalgia thing. It will be good for special occasions, a romantic evening."

Romantic evening? For those of us who are hitched, nothing will kill romance quicker than hearing that Jean Baptiste Girardot decided to build a trading post here in 1733.

"The history thing won't be for everybody," Varney said. "If a couple's smooching in the back, we can take a hint."

The tour route isn't set in stone, but Varney said that it will likely follow along Water, Main and Spanish streets.

Several of you tipped me off about this a few weeks ago, but Varney wanted to wait to make an announcement until she met with the Downtown Merchants Association, which she did last week.

"They were really excited by the idea," she said.

There were also legal questions that I wondered about, specifically if the city would allow a horse on a city street and what to do about ... certain natural deposits a horse may leave behind.

So I called city attorney Eric Cunningham, which led to some interesting phrasing on his part.

"For the one, you'd have to make sure it was cleaned up," he said. "For ... the other, it could just evaporate."

Other than that, Cunningham said there was nothing prohibiting the business and that, in fact, there had been a similar business in the past.

Varney said there is a special contraption that will catch, as Eric put it, "the one." For "the other," she said she will carry a five-gallon bucket of water to throw on it and dilute it.

"We're going to make sure that we don't mess up the streets," she said.

By the way, Varney knows a thing or two about this business. Until two weeks ago, she worked at St. Louis Carriage Co., which was the same service there.

But she doesn't have a name for her new business yet. I suggested Hot to Trot Horse and Carriage Rides.

"That's cute," she agreed. "Oh, wait. My drivers are all girls. I don't want to give people the wrong idea."

Hmmm. ... Good point.

Cross Trails' new building

Vicki Smith puts it kindly: The conditions at Cross Trails Medical Center have never been perfect for operating a medical clinic.

The spaces have been cramped. The rooms have been small. Patients have had to share a waiting room that also serves as a break room. There's little room for expansion.

"It's never been ideal," said Smith, who is the clinic's CEO.

The new building should offer the ideal situation, though. Smith said Cross Trails has bought a 1.3-acre tract of land on Broadview across the street from K's Merchandise. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for early June, and the new building should be up by early next year.

The new building will be 13,500 square feet, more than twice the 6,000 square feet the clinic has now. It will have enough room to add another physician to the two the clinic has, add two dentists (there are none now) and have space for X-rays. It even have enough room to expand in the future, such as for mental health treatment and evaluations or a pharmacy.

"It also will give us recognition we don't have now," Smith said. "There's nothing outside that says Cross Trails. We need to be a stand-alone clinic."

Cross Trails is a community health center that provides services to a good mix of those on Medicare, Medicaid and those who have health insurance and those who want to pay a sliding fee. Smith said they see between 45 and 50 patients a day.

New ownership

Loy Welker, president of Broadway Park Investment, has purchased two commercial properties in Cape Girardeau recently. He bought the strip mall at 820 N. Sprigg from Bobby McDonald, which includes Tan It All, Burritoville, Mr. Goodcents, the White House and DC'z Cafe.

Welker, who is also the primary owner of Capital Insurance, plans to extend that development to make room for more businesses. Welker has also purchased the acreage behind the development, which he plans to develop into apartment buildings.

The second development he bought is on North Kingshighway that is home to The Brace Place, Miracle Ear and Remax Achievers. The deal was facilitated by Ken Inman of Century 21 Ashland Realty.

Putting on the Blitz

Mick Engelhardt and his girlfriend Jennifer Carlton are set to start the Blitz.

It's a new Cape Girardeau fitness center that was scheduled to open last week at 285 S. Plaza Way in that strip mall behind BG's. Engelhardt said the center will feature a 20-minute workout for men only.

Those exercising will go to 20 stations, 10 of which are hydraulic machines, six are punching bags and four are rest stations, where you can check your heart rate.

Is 400 beats a minute too fast?

Anyway, Engelhardt said you can get what you need in 20 minutes, which I like.

"You're probably not going to build a lot of new muscle," he said. "But you'll shed some weight quick. It's a strenuous workout."

Return of Broadway Station

Broadway Station is set to make another go at it at 600 Broadway, this time thanks to new owner Stephen Majeed, who also owns Sprigg Street Station. He hoped to have the business open last week, too.

He said that his station will have gas pumps and sell everything expected at a convenience store except liquor and beer. That's because it's too close to a couple of churches. He's remodeled the interior and has added a drive-through.

Move it

Renee Luttrell has opened Family Moving and Storage at 1301 N. Kingshighway, Suite E, right next to Coldwell Banker.

"We do commercial moves, household moves," she said. "Anybody wants us to move, pianos or anything, we'll do it."

Luttrell was employed with Atlas Van Lines for 14 years and her husband still works for North American Van Lines driving a truck, she said.

Scott Moyers is the business editor for the Southeast Missourian. Send your comments, business news, information or questions to Biz Buzz, 301 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63702-0699, e-mail or call 335-6611, extension 137.

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