Witz's magic is back at Marjorie's in East Cape

Monday, September 29, 2003

Walk into the restaurant that for years was the enormously popular Witz's and it's like a delicious trip back in time.

There's Kay Creecy and Sally Lovell, topping off tea glasses and rushing out heaping plates of catfish and huge slices of apple pie, just like they did when Betty Colyer owned the place.

Look in the back and there's Kitty Hale, the head night cook who for years worked her magic on meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, or whatever happened to be the special of the day.

Robin Bruer's also back, baking pies that are better than your momma made.

That was then -- and now, for Marjorie's Restaurant, the new eatery that occupies the building in East Cape Girardeau, Ill., that was Witz's Family Restaurant for more than 10 years.

"I just called up all the old gang and told them what I wanted to do, and they wanted to come back," said new owner Marjorie Stout, who also was a waitress when it was Witz's.

A co-worker and I headed over for lunch last week. It was good. (No one would be surprised to hear that I overate.)

The restaurant has gone through several owners since Witz's closed. But Stout said she hopes to keep it open for quite a while.

"I've done a good business," said Stout, who worked from the mid-1980s until 1994.

"I've tried to put it back like Betty and Witz had it," she said of Betty's husband, who was known as Witz. "We've got the country cooking, the homemade pies. I've brought a lot of the same people back. I put out the money, but we're doing it as a group project."

Stout described it as "the kind of cooking people don't do at home anymore."

Now they'll do it for you. We're glad you guys are back.

My Daddy's consolidating

If you've walked past My Daddy's Cheesecake in downtown Cape Girardeau this morning, then you've seen it -- the paper over the windows announcing that the downtown location has closed.

"We're moving all of our remaining production to the Route K location," owner Wes Kinsey told me last week.

Kinsey expanded to two locations earlier this year, opening a second spot at the newly built La Croix Village on Route K. That spot went off like gang-busters, while the downtown location at 111 N. Main suffered.

"The new store was sort of cannibalizing the old store," he said.

He also said they were transporting items back and forth.

"It had become a logistical nightmare. And frankly, we're busy enough out at La Croix Village," he said.

Kinsey said it was sad to have to close down the downtown that had been there since Tom Harte opened it in 1989. (Kinsey bought it in 1996.)

"I love downtown," he said. "It just doesn't fit into our business plan any longer. We sort of thought all along this would happen. But in the back of our mind, we hoped it wouldn't come to that."

He's put the building up for sale. Eight employees had to be laid off.

Kinsey also took the opportunity to announce that they will also no longer be taking mail orders over the Christmas holiday.

"It was the busiest 20 days of the year for us," he said. "But now we want to do what we do best -- wholesale and retail."

Gizmos and gadgets

Rich Behring said having the right cooking supplies is like a mechanic having the right tools.

"They need quality tools to do the job," he said.

Behring said his new store -- Kitchen Gizmos & Gadgets -- will offer quality cooking tools when it opens at 210 Independence in Cape Girardeau on Oct. 6.

"It's going to be a basic -- and I emphasize the word basic -- housewares store," said Behring, a former Army cook.

They sell potato mashers, steak knives, wire whips and things that maybe you can't find at general merchandise stores, Behring said.

Items will be hooked on peg boards, he said.

They will carry NORPRO items, including its extremely good stainless steel line called Krona.

"Years ago, I was a housewares basics buyer for a department store in St. Louis, a store that is now the Dillard's operation," he said. "I was an army cook. It all blended together."

Some interesting items you can find there -- strawberry huller (pinches stem off without damaging the fruit), cherry pitters, olive pitters, apple peelers, canning items, etc.

Internet company

SD Internet Management has opened its doors at 1707 Mount Auburn in Cape Girardeau. The owners are Luke Sample and Brandon Drury.

The company owns and operates a number of Web sites, most of which are membership sites, Sample said. The sites do things like offer golf instructions as well as teach people how to download music and movies.

The company is already up to selling about 450 memberships a day since it opened last month.

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 smoyers@semissourian.com or call 335-6611, extension 137.

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