- Published on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 10:53
- Written by Brandi Holder
As many of you are aware, the Marquette Tower in downtown Cape Girardeau has been awoken from its slumber with renovations and the introduction of many new tenants over the course of the last several months. The latest tenant to breathe life into the grand lobby comes to us courtesy of Baristas Coffee Bar, which will be opening at the end of this month.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Managing Partner of Primo Brands, Keller Ford, and Director of Operations, Rafe Camp to get the scoop. Baristas Coffee Bar will feature a classic 1920s theme in a casual atmosphere. For Ford, it is essential to serve quality items in a manner of convenience for those in the downtown area. The menu will include items such as salads, breakfast and lunch sandwiches and wraps, muffins, and cookies available for dine-in or grab and go. As a side note, those looking for vegetarian choices will find some options on the breakfast menu. The drink menu includes the celebrated Kaldi's Coffee and Firepot Nomadic Teas, specialty adult coffee drinks, wine, beer, and frozen drinks. The mint chocolate coffee frappe is a must try, by the way!
Both Ford and Camp are excited about this new endeavor. Ford says, "you don't go to small towns and see downtown revitalization very often. Especially not like this. Revitalization efforts can be costly, but it's not just the money. It's the cooperation of all involved acting together, and not just as separate entities". Camp, who traded in a long term gig as a manager at Ruby Tuesday's said for him, the biggest draw of Baristas Coffee Bar was "the local downtown scene and the people that he would be working for." He added that he is proud to be involved in this project and to be part of the district.
The passion for customer experience is evident in selection of menu items and employee training at Baristas. As I sit down to enjoy a sample of menu items I am treated to more than just a sandwich. The no frills plating created a nice visual for the rather large sandwich. These are what I would call deluxe versions of your lunchtime favorites. The smoked turkey sandwich has avocado and goat cheese which melt together nicely under the toasted bread. It paired well with the house made hummus that was served with toasted flatbread and veggies. The grilled cheese was a fantastic flavor explosion of several kinds of cheese, but I was surprised to learn that it is not your run of the mill selection. Without giving too much away, I will say they had me again at goat cheese!
The Spanish Colonial Revival style present with the Marquette building is uncommon in Cape Girardeau, but it signifies a nod to the city's Spanish heritage. The building has come a long way from its roots as a grand hotel over 80 years ago. Surprisingly, even after passing through eight changes in ownership, threats of demolition, and over a dozen types of usages, much of the original ornate architectural integrity remains.
When speaking with Jeff Maurer of Mayson Capital Partners about Baristas, he said that the coffee bar satisfied several objectives for the building. Baristas is powered by local people, and it blends into the style of downtown. Maurer goes on to say, "The 1920s theme captures and complements the time period and essence of the building giving way to an extraordinary ambiance. The Marquette is unique, and you have to cherish and preserve that." Baristas Coffee Bar is a prominent part of the building due to its location. Maurer says of Ford, "he does a great job of creating atmosphere and selection. The end result will be a great vibe, an excellent experience, and a comfortable environment. "
As a patron, it is nice to see the extra special touches, unexpected food pairings, and the offering of handcrafted beverages that match the tone of the era. So much of our modern life is focused on quick processes that sometimes it is nice to pause to take in a unique experience such as the one offered at Baristas. As we turn the page on this chapter of the Marquette from its roots as a place of rest and leisure to a place of productivity and local entrepreneurial spirit, it is interesting to note how history repeats itself. A passage from the National Register of Historic Places says, "From its inception, the Marquette Hotel has played an important, and sometimes central, role in the Commerce of Cape Girardeau. A large number of businesses participated in its construction, and many were eventually located in the hotel building itself". With the Marquette designated as the central point of the Tech District, the addition of Baristas Coffee Bar, and a restaurant on the top floor later this year, the building will once again be a vital anchor in Cape Girardeau. Hopefully, one that will take it into its next 80 years and beyond.
While you are at the Marquette, check out the collection of history about the Marquette put together by Abby Petzoldt with the assistance of Cindy Buchheit. It can be found in the grand lobby.