LoDo strives to make itself a little different than downtown bars

Friday, October 15, 2010
A caramel apple martini at LoDo in Cape Girardeau. (Kristin Eberts)

Brad Pool can hardly believe it has been almost a year since he and his wife reopened LoDo, their downtown bar.

"It's been a whirlwind," Pool said. "It feels like we just opened up."

Pool and his wife, Amy, who also works as the executive director of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri, originally opened LoDo in the restored historic Marquette building on Broadway. They closed the bar in 2006, but reopened in October 2009 at 33 N. Main St.

In the new location, the Pools have participated in arts events, hosted music and are now planning an Oktoberfest.

Pool said he felt that with a multitude of lounges, pubs and pool halls in the downtown area, something a little different was in order -- a destination that set itself apart from the competition.

"We opened in the Marquette in 2004 and founded it as Cape's very first martini bar -- LoDo at the Marquette," Pool said. "When we moved, we took the theme and the idea and kept it the same. We tried to set this place up to where it felt like you weren't necessarily going to a bar that was like going to all the other bars in Cape. We wanted it have a downtown urban bar feel with the long shotgun bar, basically a classy and affordable experience."

While a one-year anniversary for LoDo's current location is still in the planning stages, its version of Oktoberfest starts today.

"We're going to have a lineup of some German style beers," Pool said. "There will be seven or eight, most of them probably not well-known."

Some of the German beers will be Erdinger Hefe-Wessbier, Franziskaner Hefe Weiss Paulaner Oktoberfest and Warsteiner Pilsner

Pool graduated from Central High School in 1988 and spent 22 years, some of them in Colorado, working in chain and independent restaurants absorbing ideas, finally hitting upon one that he could use when he returned to Cape Girardeau.

"'LoDo' is actually an acronym for Denver's 'lower downtown,'" Pool said. "So when we got this spot and were actually a little lower downtown than before, it fit better. We still have the same 30 martinis on the list that we had at the old place. What we did that was a little different from everybody else is we have a list of martinis that are all made by either myself, bartenders who work for me and some have actually been made-up by our clientele."

With a chuckle, Pool said the process for a customer-created martini takes about 10 minutes.

"Usually the way it works is someone says, 'I kind of like the way that martini looks, but I like this other liquor,'" he said. "So we'll get to tinkering with it and then out we come with the product and, voila, there it is."

The Tussin and the Stallion were named after the customers who helped craft them. Aside from the martinis, LoDo carries the full line of O'Dell brews, a popular brewery in Colorado.

LoDo is also a regular stop on the monthly First Friday art walk.

"We keep a piece from each artist and actually try to sell it," Pool said. "It's all up for sale, which means the decor changes every 30 days."

To set the right tone, LoDo also features music. The Matt Pittman Duo will play jazz each Friday for the rest of October.

Pool said his concept for LoDo has been a simple one and fulfilled for the most part.

"We wanted a place for people where they don't have to fight with rowdy crowds or loud music or any of that," he said. "Where they can just sit and have a nice conversation over drinks."

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