Business Notebook: New rooftop restaurant to be atop Marquette Tower

Monday, January 8, 2018
Keller Ford stands on the rooftop of Marquette Tower overlooking Broadway on Friday in downtown Cape Girardeau.
Fred Lynch

Wherever Keller Ford sees a gap in a market, he tries to be right there to fill it with a new business plan.

That entrepreneurial spirit is true for Ford's newest venture, a small-plates restaurant and bar to open on the rooftop of the historic Marquette building in downtown Cape Girardeau.

He's the owner of Primo Brands, a group that encompasses his other businesses, Primo Vino, Cask and Baristas Coffee Bar. The latter also is in the Marquette building, on the bottom floor.

Ford said he plans to have the restaurant open sometime this summer. He has yet to give the new business a name.

The restaurant's concept will be small plates with a limited menu. While nothing is set in stone in regards to that menu, Ford said he'd like to change it up three or four times a year to ensure a fresh taste for regular guests.

Keller Ford poses for a photo Friday in the space atop Marquette Tower where he will open a restaurant and bar.
Fred Lynch

Ford added he doesn't want to be pigeonholed into a specific cuisine. While he is planning the menu to be higher-end, Ford said it won't be a fine-dining experience.

"I don't want it to be so high-end that your average person can't come in and enjoy it," Ford said.

Because downtown businesses close so early during the week, Ford said it can be difficult for people to find a place to eat after 9 p.m. In response, he said he would like to keep his kitchen open until midnight and his bar open until 1 a.m.

In a building with so much history, Ford said he wants to ensure his guests are "wowed" by the atmosphere. On the top floor of a building in its location, he added the view of the river and downtown scene will be unlike that of any other restaurant in town.

"We want people to walk into the rooftop restaurant and be like, 'Wow, this is beautiful. This is awesome. This is where I want to go have a drink,'" Ford said. "That's the kind of atmosphere and overall experience we want people to have up there."

While Ford cited parking constraints as a possible issue for patrons, the building's proximity to Cape Girardeau's coming Marriott hotel at the corner of Broadway and Fountain Street is something Ford hopes will attract a good deal of business.

He is a Cape Girardeau native who has worked in the food-service industry for nearly 25 years, and for Ford, identifying strong business ideas is like second nature to him now.

One of those ideas was rooted in the outdoor balcony and seventh-floor location where he plans to have seating available. Ford said it is unlike any other restaurant downtown.

"It's that view of the balcony overlooking downtown, is the whole reason why we want to do a restaurant up there," Ford said.

The rooftop restaurant and bar is an idea Ford said he has had for years. After having so recently opened Baristas, he didn't get to designing the restaurant until early November.

As the owner of so many businesses, Ford said it takes a village to run them all.

"I can't do this myself," Ford said. "The first five years that I was here, it was kinda like I was on an island by myself. And now, we have a great team."

Rhodes 101 recognized for social-media use

Rhodes 101 Stops, a 31-store chain based in Cape Girardeau, recently was recognized by Convenience Store Decisions magazine for Best Overall Social Media Engagement. Rhodes 101 used numerous social-media campaigns in 2017, according to the magazine, including a Facebook campaign between May 26 and July 31 to break the Guinness World Record for the world's largest soft drink, which was successful.

Cape Kmart, Sears not among closures

On Thursday, Sears Holdings announced more Kmart and Sears store closings. Kmart will lose 64 stores and 39 Sears stores will close between early March and early April.

The stores in Cape Girardeau are not included on the list of closings. The Kmart stores in Mount Vernon, Illinois, and Paducah, Kentucky, are included. The Sears store in Marion, Illinois, also will close.

Ribbon cuttings

Heartland Chiropractic Center will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a ribbon cutting at 1 p.m. Wednesday at 3874 E. Jackson Boulevard in Jackson.

Reporter Marybeth Niederkorn contributed to this story.

(573) 388-3630

Pertinent address:

338 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: