The closing or relocation of several Cape Girardeau restaurants over the past year has left something of a void downtown.
In the Wine Cellar shut its doors due to the illness of the owner. My Daddy's Cheesecake closed its Main Street location in favor of its new Route W spot. Grace Cafe moved from the corner of Spanish and Themis to its roomier Broadway building. Then the restaurant that replaced it, Corner Cafe, closed in September after only eight months.
Now, Scott Hamann and Andy Baranovic hope their new downtown restaurant -- Sidewalk Sandwich Co. -- will buck that trend.
"We think we can fill some of that void," Hamann said. "I know people do miss those businesses being down here."
The restaurant will open in the next few weeks in the former spot of Grace Cafe and Corner Cafe at 119 Themis after the owners satisfy some city requirements.
The breakfast and lunch restaurant will offer breakfast sandwiches and specialty baked lunch sandwiches on homemade bread, as well as other menu items. (There's also something for vegans and vegetarians, but it sounds so unappetizing to this big-boy meat eater that I won't even get into that.)
The restaurant will also have a separate room that will be available for private events like wedding showers, meetings and rehearsal dinners. Those will be limited to evenings only because that area will be the main dining area during the day.
Hamann said now is the time to be downtown.
"We knew if we didn't take this opportunity, we may not have one this good again," he said.
With all that's going on downtown, that's a smart bet.
Airport fare: Last Thursday, there was a plane delay -- I'm sure a rare one -- at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport. Travelers could have sat down, had a sandwich and maybe a cup of coffee to pass the time.
If a restaurant was there. But there hasn't been one there since Mac's Smokehouse closed in September.
Lament no longer.
Mike and Judy Bryant are planning on opening the Landing Place Airport Restaurant next week. The Bryants tell me that there will be soup and sandwiches and all-you-can-eat fish on Friday and a buffet on Sunday. Judy is the manager of Hertz car rental at the airport, and Mike has been in the restaurant business before, as a trainer, district manager and manager at Mazzio's Pizza Corp., as well as a stint at Cedar Street.
New strip center: The Rhodes Group is building an 8,100-square-foot strip center just south of Schnucks in Cape Girardeau next to the Dairy Queen, according to Scott Rhodes. Rhodes said the real estate development company hasn't lined up tenants yet, but that it is a perfect spot for retail.
"It's probably the second- or third-busiest place in Cape County, once you take Wal-Mart and the mall out," he said. "It probably has the highest income people shopping there."
Construction is expected to be finished sometime this summer.
New Jimmy Johns owner: Ken Butler of Evansville, Ind., has purchased Jimmy John's at 1800 Broadway from Ed Thompson. Butler took over the restaurant last week and is in town for a few months to oversee the transition.
Butler, 29, owns the Jimmy John's in Carbondale, Ill., and is building one in Evansville. He said he hopes to make several improvements that will push up the $300,000 in business the sandwich shop did last year.
"It's doing all right, it's just not doing the numbers it should be compared to some of the other stores," he said.
He plans to modify the building, set up outdoor seating in the spring and get more lighting in the parking lot, among other things. He also intends to expand the hours -- it now closes at 9 p.m.
"We did the exact thing five months ago with the Carbondale store -- took it over when it was hurting real bad," he said. "It was doing $300,000 and now it's right at $750,000. This has the same capability."
Opening today, downtown bank: Scott City-based Security Bank and Trust is opening its first Cape Girardeau branch today at 325 Broadway. Longtime Cape Girardeau banker Richard Allgood will be the bank's vice president and Tom Gilmer will be the branch manager.
Not opening today, Arby's: That's what the plan was, but RTM Restaurant Group, the Atlanta-based company that owns the one going up here said that's not going to happen now because of a few weather delays. But you'll definitely have access to an Arby's roast beef sandwich by Christmas. (Great stocking stuffers!)
Fence straddling: Marvin Wormington Jr., owner of the Gardens Edge Nursery in Kelso, said his business has bought out Bootheel Fence Co. from Chris Kuhn, who has come on board to coordinate and head sales.
Gardens Edge will now do all kinds of fencing from chain link to vinyl fencing.
Congrats: Hearty congratulations go out to Jan McClanahan for being named Realtor of the Year. She earned that massage she's getting on the front of this very business section. Good job!
Scott Moyers is the business editor for the Southeast Missourian.