Group to open bar and grill in Cape to help support veterans

Monday, May 21, 2012
The USA Veterans will be opening the Trail of Tears Bar & Grill with Jim McCrite, left, secretary-treasurer Cathy Ring, operations manager Nick Blankenship and chaplain Rodney Maddox. (Fred Lynch)

A local veterans organization will open a new bar and grill in an effort to raise money to help other veterans.

USA Veterans has purchased a building at 519 Good Hope St. and is working to transform it into a veterans club that is also open to the public.

It will be called the Trail of Tears Bar and Grill, but the phrase Trail of Tears doesn't refer to the nearby park or Native Americans, said Nick Blankenship, USA Veterans operations officer.

"All wars leave a trail of tears," he said.

The bar and grill will be open in early June, said Cathy Ring, USA Veterans secretary/treasurer.

"We're hoping to establish a revenue stream to help support our work," Ring said.

For its fourth year, USA Veterans will sponsor a Fourth of July celebration in Arena Park, including a demolition derby and fireworks display.

Funds from the bar and grill will also help support the organization's emergency fund, which helps veterans in need and their families.

"This fund has paid for things like bus tickets, lodging and meals when these veterans had no where else to go," Ring said.

USA Veterans is also working to establish a rehabilitation center for amputees.

"The VA does a limited rehab. They give you a prosthetic and show you how to use it, that's about it. We want to offer occupational and recreational therapy," Ring said.

Blankenship said there isn't a rehab center for veteran amputees in the Midwest and that many people have to travel to Virginia or Texas for those services,

"We want to rehabilitate them top to toe, and focus on the mental as well as the physical," Blankenship said.

Several area businesses have expressed interest in donating to the effort, Ring said, but they have told the group that it needs a source of income to support the center as well. She hopes the new business will create that and encourage more people to join their cause.

USA Veterans' new building was most recently home to The Pink Squirrel nightclub, but most locals know it as the former Ed's Bar, which occupied the building for more than 50 years.

Blankenship's wife was a bartender there for 20 years and will manage the bar and grill.

Ed's Bar was a frequent hangout for many of USA Veterans founding members and where the group held planning meetings for its first Fourth of July festival, Ring said.

"USA Veterans was born in Ed's Bar. It's a special place for us," she said.

Members have worked together to build a large version of the organization's logo out of wood that will be displayed behind the bar.

They've also been cleaning, painting and replacing drywall in the building to get it ready to reopen. Building materials have been donated by the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and Southeast Missouri Builders Supply. Admiral Plastics donated the sign for the business.

For more information, people may visit the organization's website, www.usa-veterans.org.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

519 Good Hope St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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