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Vacated gas station turned into burger joint
Nostalgia meets revitalization with the opening of Stevie's Steakburgers, planned for later this week.
For the past six months at the corner of Broadway and Frederick Street, owner Steve Majeed and a few others have been transforming what was a vacant gas station since 1998 into a restaurant reminiscent of drive-in eateries of long ago.
The sign featuring the steakburger that appears above the business' name has replaced the advertisement of $1.29 a gallon gas the station sold a decade ago. Majeed sold the last remaining underground storage tank in November 2005.
Gone is the smell of unleaded fuel, soon to be replaced by the aroma of freshly prepared New York-style steakburgers, gyros, chicken sandwiches and Nathan's beef hot dogs with all the fixings.
Though the gas pumps have been removed to make room for cars and customers, the overhang still remains, a feature Majeed wanted to keep as a reminder to the community that the restaurant once was a convenience store.
While the station lasted only 16 months, Majeed believes his restaurant will be an instant success.
"The advantage for us is that we're at the heart of Broadway and three blocks from the university," Majeed said Thursday morning inside the nearly-finished 300-square-foot white building.
"Students and others who are spending late nights at downtown bars or just having fun in that section of town have to travel a few miles in order to find a place to eat that time of night," said Majeed, whose wife Toni handled the exterior decorations and design of the restaurant. "What we are doing here is offering them an alternative that allows them a closer place to eat."
Open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 to 2:30 a.m., Majeed said his selection of food is hard to find in Cape Girardeau. His restaurant offers only non-pork foods.
"I wanted my kids to be able to come and eat anything they wanted without compromising their religious beliefs," said Majeed, whose family is Muslim. "What we have here is a selection that is one of a kind."
Majeed's story began in the early 1990s, when the then-New York City resident attended an event at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau. Though he visited the city for just one day, Majeed immediately fell in love with the area.
"I had lived in New York City for almost nine years and became tired of the city," Majeed said. "The small-town life appealed to me and I knew this was the place I wanted to live."
Shortly afterward, Majeed began the application process for admission to Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. While he was completing his degree at Southeast, the entrepreneur purchased the Semo Gas station at the corner of Themis and Sprigg streets. He still owns the station.
Upon his graduation from Southeast in 1995, Majeed returned to the East Coast so he could earn his master's degree in business administration from New York University. After earning the business degree, Majeed decided to return to the city he had fallen in love with only a few years earlier.
It was 1997 when he purchased the gas station at 600 Broadway.
However, he discovered that operating two gas stations was too much too handle. By late 1998, the station on Broadway closed.
The building and property remained unoccupied until work began on transforming the station into Stevie's Steakburgers.
Whatever the future holds, Majeed is excited about the opportunity to preserve history while filling a void he believes is needed in one of the busiest and most exciting parts of Cape Girardeau.
"There's been a lot of interest and excitement from people who have passed by here each day," Majeed said. "They're anxiously awaiting us to open our restaurant in one of the most unique settings in Cape Girardeau."
3335-6611, extension 1137