Restaurant promises chili summer for Cape

Monday, January 19, 2004

Indianapolis-based Charlie & Barney's has announced its plan to bring its award-winning chili restaurant to Cape Girardeau by this summer.

"We are doing an expansion and we really like to look at any college town that has a sizable population," said executive director Tom Coyle. "We're glad to be headed to Cape Girardeau."

Coyle said the company, which operates restaurants in six states, is talking with two local people who are interested in being the licensee. He wouldn't name them until the company decides which person to go with.

He also said that they have yet to settle on a site. "Though, often in college towns, we try to be near the campus," he said.

Charlie & Barney's typically opens restaurants in central business districts or strip centers, downtown areas or other business districts.

Coyle said that proprietary spices and seasonings and a variety of chili and sandwiches set the restaurants apart. There is also a Fix-It bar where customers can top their chili and sandwiches with whatever they want, he said.

The chili must be good, too. It has won the "Best in Indianapolis" contest for 12 years running.

The chain was founded in 1977 and has experienced a major expansion spurt with the franchising of 200 new restaurants in the last two years.

When fully developed, the restaurant is expected to create 15 jobs. Coyle said those jobs usually mean an annual economic impact of $400,000 for the area.

Missing Mayflower: Poised above Hecht's in downtown Cape Girardeau since the day the clothing store opened, a weather vane in the shape of the historic Mayflower twisted and turned for 76 years, as careless as the winds that charted her course.

Then, in November, those winds apparently knocked her from her perch.

Now the owners of the closing downtown clothing store want it back.

Dan Elkins, the manager of the Hecht's clothing store at 107 N. Main, said he noticed that the solid-brass weather vane was gone one morning when he came in after a particularly rough wind storm.

"I don't know what happened," he said Friday. "It wasn't necessarily stolen, but it disappeared. I don't know if somebody picked it up, or where it went, but we'd like it back."

Hecht's had already made the announcement that owners Marty and Tootie Hecht were ready to retire and the store will close soon.

Elkins said they don't want to take the weather vane for sentimental reasons, but believe that it should be put back where it had been for so long.

"We're disappointed," Elkins said. "Marty's disappointed. It's part of the building his father had built. It needs to be up there. That shouldn't change."

Those with information should call 335-3314, Elkins said.

Online searching: Pop culture Web sites, including music and movies, were the most sought-after Internet sites during 2003, according to search engine operators Yahoo! and Google.

The companies analyzed the search terms that appeared most often on their sites, and found that file-sharing software KaZaa was tops. To the recording industry, KaZaa means illegal music downloading.

After KaZaa at Yahoo!, Harry Potter, "American Idol," Britney Spears and rapper 50 Cent were the top searches. (Britney Spears? You dirty old men!)

Rival Google does not rank its top searches on an annual basis, but a spokeswoman says the most popular searches included pop singer Britney Spears (again?), Harry Potter, Iraq and the film "The Matrix."

You people aren't looking at this stuff at work, are you? I wouldn't have thought so.

So long, for now: This is my last column in the Southeast Missourian, at least for a while. I'm headed back to the wonderment of higher education, where I imagine it to be something like the movie "Old School." (Is wonderment a word? Maybe they'll teach me.)

I left college to work for this newspaper years ago when I was about to embark on my senior year. Now I'm back to finish off my last two semesters, so my wife can quit telling our children that I'm the uneducated parent.

Don't be surprised to see my byline here and there because I will be doing some part-time work. In the meantime, it's been a privilege chatting with you every week, and we'll pick up the conversation, in some fashion, in about a year.

So quit asking me if we're getting a White Castle, OK?

Scott Moyers is the business editor for the Southeast Missourian.

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