by Jim Obert
The old Marquette Hotel on Broadway in downtown Cape used to have a star-shaped bar, which was a legendary hangout for people who enjoyed the night life. Old photos show scenes of gaudy, fin-backed Cadillacs parked in front of the vividly lit building. Women draped in furs and men dressed to the nines milled around the sidewalk.
The recently renovated building, now home to state offices and a few private businesses, once again has a watering hole. LoDo's Martini Bar has opened in the southeast corner of Marquette Towers.
Brad Pool and Michael Risch have replicated the star bar that had been built during a hotel remodeling in the 1950s. The bar can seat 53 people, and the martini menu features 40 vodka-based libations.
There's the Strawberry Blonde, made with Stoli strawberry vodka, pineapple vodka and cranberry splash; there's the Liquid Herion, made with Absolut vodka, rumplemints and Jaegermeister; there's the M*A*S*H*, concocted from extra dry Beefeater vodka and garnished with three olives; and there's the On My Ass, aptly named for its contents - cherry vodka, Jack Daniels, gin, Bacardi rum and Maraschino cherry.
"We made up the names of most of these drinks," said Brad Pool, laughing. "We have 55 to 60 different brands of vodka, but we also have more than just vodka. We have gin, whisky, scotch, tequila and others, and we have about 14 garnishes like olives, cherries and even plastic figurines."
Pool and Risch are Cape Girardeau natives, but 15 years ago they were living in Colorado when they had the idea of someday opening an upscale bar in their hometown. Risch had been part owner of Mollie's Cafe the past two years, and Pool returned to Cape with more than 10 years' experience in the restaurant business in Denver. Last April, they began looking for a location.
They wanted to open the bar downtown because of all the activity currently under way there - the new federal courthouse, River Campus, new floodwall murals and the Marquette Towers.
"We knew the Marquette had just opened and that there was room for businesses," said Pool.
The two turned to the Internet to research the history of the building. They found information about the star bar that had been there and decided to build their own. They signed a lease on Sept. 24 and began renovation of the area. The result - a martini bar in an increasingly vibrant downtown.