Odds stacked in favor of IHOP coming here

Monday, November 4, 2002

The International House of Pancakes -- IHOP for the ADHD crowd -- has shown a strong interest in opening a restaurant in Cape Girardeau, and a spot they're seriously looking at is the Drury property just west of Ruby Tuesday.

"We've been investigating the area," said Patrick Lenow, a corporate spokesman for the California-based restaurant known for its pancakes. It also offers a full menu. "We have not been given final approval for a site there, but we know it's a great market."

The property on the corner of William and Mount Auburn is owned by Drury Southwest. Drury vice president Larry Westrich said that his company owns all nine acres on the tract, including the acre that is occupied by Ruby Tuesday and the two acres where a six-story office building sits.

That means that there are five or six acres for lease. But Westrich was pretty mum about IHOP.

"I let tenants do their announcements," Westrich said. "There has been interest, that's all I can say. There is no firm deal signed at this point."

Westrich also confirmed that there has been interest from O'Charley's for another spot on the tract. O'Charley's is a restaurant chain I am unfamiliar with, but apparently it hails from the South.

Both O'Charley's and IHOP have contacted the city about licensing. There would be plenty of room for both restaurants, if leasing agreements can be reached.

I don't know about O'Charley's, but an IHOP seems to make sense for that spot. According to its Web site, IHOP's preferred locations are in freestanding buildings or highway-oriented locations. The required parcel size is between 40,000 to 50,000 square feet to accommodate one of two building sizes.

Each site must have a minimum of 60 parking spots on the site.

IHOP buildings contain approximately 4,000 to 5,000 square feet and seat approximately 130 to 176 people (and probably will be that full after the bars close for the evening).

According to IHOP, the company is expanding mainly in the Midwest, Southwest and Southeast.

Wet Seal

Specialty retailer Wet Seal Inc. is coming to Westfield Shoppingtown West Park.

Mall manager Jim Govro said that the specialty retailer will offer fashionable and contemporary apparel and accessory items. The company currently operates a total of 470 stores in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The stores cater to the junior customer.

"It's a youth clothing store," Govro said. "It's real popular, and we think it will be a good performer for us."

But one question: Aren't all seals wet at least most of the time?

Speaking of the mall, Govro said St. Louis Bread Co. is also putting some tables out in front and setting up a cafe. They're also starting to open at 7 a.m. They've brought in a new management team and sales are up 20 percent, Govro said.

Chrisman Art Gallery

The Blank family that owns Bi-State Oil in Cape Girardeau -- under the name Clila LP -- has bought the old Chrisman Art Gallery at 34 N. Main.

Bi-State president Scott Blank tells me that renovation plans are under way for the recently acquired real estate. Plans are for two 3,000-square-foot commercial ventures on the main floor level and three apartments upstairs.

The apartments will have a separate garage off Water Street.

"The building did not need a lot of work," Blank said. "Just work as to what we want to do with the property. Many have commented to us that the building is the best looking in all of downtown, and we agree. It simply could not sit vacant. It is just too pretty not to have people making use of it."

Completion of the project is set for spring.

Blimpie Best

The Blimpie people were here over the weekend, and let me speak for the whole newsroom -- it was meat.

Um, I mean neat.

They brought by two big, fat trays of subs for the newsroom as part of a salute to Cape Girardeau and Jackson for "exceptional support of local Blimpie restaurants and their communities."

Cape Girardeau also received the first Golden Blimpie award. It's all because the owners of the three local Blimpie's -- Kevin and Susan Stanfield -- were named 2002 Franchisees of the Year for Blimpie U.S. operations.

So a whole entourage from Blimpie International was here over the weekend. They brought the newsroom a tray of sandwiches Friday morning after visiting the radio station. They also participated in the tailgate party for Southeast Missouri State University.

The mayor even proclaimed November Blimpie Month. (Don't laugh, it's better than Armistice Day.)

And don't come around here looking for a sub. They were gone 15 minutes after they were dropped off.

Charm school

Dana Rowland has always liked jewelry and crafts. It started out as a hobby, but it has now culminated in Charmful Creations, a new business that opened last week at 211-A S. Kingshighway in the area near Sherwin-Williams.

The Jackson resident told me last week that the store offers charm bracelets, costume jewelry, home decor and craft items.

"It's a gift shop," she said. "I have a little bit of everything."

Rowland tested her idea at the mall by opening a kiosk in July. It went well so she decided she wanted her own building.

She said she's going to offer bead workshops, where people can come in and make jewelry and home decorating items.

"It's been great," she said. "A lot of my customers saw me at the mall and now they're coming here."

Scott Moyers is the business editor for the Southeast Missourian. Send your comments, business news, information or questions to Biz Buzz, 301 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63702-0699, e-mail smoyers@semissourian.com or call 335-6611, extension 137.

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