Esicar's site, contents to be auctioned off Sunday

Monday, August 15, 2011

The historic Esicar's Old Hickory Smokehouse will be sold at auction next week.

The business has been closed since the building was ravaged by fire in March. It sustained an estimated $300,000 in damage, according to the Cape Girardeau Fire Department. The cause was determined to be electrical.

The auction of the three-story building and its contents will be held by Brucker Auction Service at noon Sunday.

Items for sale include Esicar's original brass cash register, antique furniture, meat processing equipment, coolers and a concession trailer.

Owner Jack Whisnant said several factors were involved in his decision not to reopen the business.

"The fire was the catalyst, but I didn't get enough out of the insurance to do it and we're in a vastly different banking era now than we were when I bought that place," he said. "With all the economic turmoil and how much I would have to borrow, I just couldn't in good conscience do it."

Whisnant said he really enjoyed owning business and will miss working there.

"Forever I'll cherish the friendships I made there. I really appreciate the support and loyalty of the people of Cape Girardeau," he said.

He hopes to open a similar business at another location and said he's working outside the Cape Girardeau area in southern Missouri. He will retain ownership of Esicar's recipes.

Originally founded at 411 Broadway by Edgar Esicar, the business moved to the building on North Kingshighway in 1951. The Esicar family closed the business in 2007.

It was purchased in 2008 by Whisnant, who operated it as Old Hickory Specialty Meats.

Many in Cape Girardeau and the surrounding area have fond memories of Esicar's bacon and hams. The sweet aroma of smoked meats was intoxicating to anyone who walked through its doors. At the time it closed in 2007, the company shipped 2,000 hams and 4,000 slabs of bacon at Christmas every year.

Since the fire, I've received numerous calls and emails asking when the business may reopen. One woman in New York called saying she ordered bacon every year and she's yet to find any that compares.

A slice of Esicar's bacon was special Saturday morning treat when I was growing up. When I saw that unfolded white butcher paper package on the kitchen counter and my dad at the stove, I knew something delicious was about to be served.

* Saint Francis to build new office: Saint Francis Medical Center has started construction of a new 8,300-square-foot addition to the Immediate Convenient Care facility at 1702 N. Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau. The building will be home to Cape Primary Care and will initially accommodate up to five physicians, said Emily Sikes, hospital spokeswoman. Cape Primary Care is currently at 3004 Gordonville Road. Boulder Construction was selected for the project, and completion is expected in March.

* Victorian Inn gets new name, updates: Midamerica Hotels Corp., based in Cape Girardeau, will convert the 133-room Victorian Inn & Suites to Auburn Place Hotel & Suites-Cape Girardeau on Oct. 1.

The relaunch of the hotel at 3265 William St. coincides with the culmination of a six-month renovation project. During the renovation, Midamerica updated all 133 sleeping rooms with new carpet and a modern design. The hotel also has a new lobby area with a business center and new decor. The breakfast area has been redesigned. There is also new carpeting and finishes in the indoor recreation area/indoor pool area and a refreshed hotel exterior, including a new logo and signage.

Auburn Place Hotel & Suites will offer an upgraded complimentary daily breakfast for guests of the hotel. As of Oct. 1, scrambled eggs and sausage will be on the daily menu, in addition to biscuits and gravy, waffles, cold cereal, oatmeal, bagels, toast, breakfast breads, yogurt, orange juice, apple juice and coffee.

Extended-stay travelers will also notice new amenities. Every guest room is equipped with a refrigerator and microwave, and the new Auburn Place offers a recently constructed barbecue patio where guests may use two new natural gas grills at no charge.

Southeast Missourian business reporter Melissa Miller may be contacted at 388-3646 or mmiller@semissourian.com.

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