The Butcher Block Closes

The Butcher Block closes 06-27-2016The Butcher Block at 1157 North Kingshighway looked awfully dark when I passed it the other day, so I scoped it out on June 25.

The business was housed in the building that used to be Esicar’s, a meat-selling landmark that opened in 1934. It became The Butcher Block in 2012 after a fire and several changes in ownership caused Esicar’s to close for good.

Yep, dark and empty

The Butcher Block closes 06-27-2016The Butcher Block Facebook posted a notice on June 6 that “the doors are closed and the shelves are empty. Thank you all for your patronage.”

A reader who asked if “Anybody know why it closed?” got this answer: “Tired of trying to find a real butcher. And with living 2 hours away. And having several irons in the fire. Something needed to give. Sorry cape lost the only meat shop it had. But family always needs to come first. Thanks for your business though.”

Previous stories about 1157 N. Kingshighway

The Butcher Block (Esicar’s)

If you drove by Esicar’s at 1157 North Kingshighway this week, you might have noticed a neon OPEN sign in the front window. No, Esicar’s isn’t coming back after a March 6, 2011, fire that put it out of business. There’s a new meat store in town: The Butcher Block held its grand opening October 26.

I’m going to mark Day One as a success. When I stopped by Friday afternoon, owner Peter Whisnant and manager Dawn Petersen were so busy waiting on customers that they barely had time to tell me their names. Their new sign was supposed to be up, but it looks like it’ll be the first of the next week before it’s installed. Mail orders will be accepted.You can place an order by calling 573-339-8757 until a website goes up in the next couple of weeks, Peter said.

Owner Peter Whisnant

A Missourian story on October 22 had the new owner’s name spelled with a P on the end instead of a T, but I’m almost positive that I heard T. In addition, I did a search of The Missourian’s archives and saw it spelled with a T in two other stories. I’m going to call The Missourian’s latest name spelling a typo unless I hear otherwise.

Peter, who owns Fruitland American Meat, decided that Esicar’s was the perfect place for a specialty meat market because of the location’s long association with country hams, bacon and sausage.

Kelley bakes the bread

In addition to selling Bunny Bread, the store carries Kelley Whisnant’s own special Mennonite / Italian bread. Right now, she’s baking about nine loaves of bread a day (while  chasing Daughter Abbigail, 1).

“What happens if you become a success and you need 25 or 30 loaves a day,” I asked.

“I guess I’ll just have to get a bigger mixer,” she replied. “Maybe that’s what I’ll get for Mother’s Day.”

Earlier stories about Esicar’s

The Butcher Block photo gallery

Here’s a collection of photos taken in and around the store. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to mover through the gallery.

Esicar’s Auction Aug. 21

Rumors have become reality. The building that housed Cape Girardeau’s landmark business, Esicar’s, will be sold at auction Aug. 21 at noon. Missourian business reporter Melissa Miller wrote that the three-story building, its contents and the one-acre site it sits on will be sold. Included in the items up for sale is Esicar’s original brass cash register, antique furniture, meat processing equipment, coolers, and a concession trailer.

This will be the end

A business like Esicar’s can survive one owner change, but I gather from comments that I’ve read and heard that the current owner didn’t have the loyal following of the original family.

When it’s sold this time, it’s going to be like the classic story of the man who was offered an axe owned by George Washington. The prospective buyer hefted it and said, “It looks awfully new to have belonged to George Washington.”

“Well, to be honest, it’s had three new handles and two heads since Washington used it.”

I think the Esicar spirit left the building well in advance of the auction. I’m going to predict that an entirely different business will go into the building when it’s all over.

Earlier links

I admit never having been a fan of Esicar’s and was taken to task by my readers. You’d have thought I had said that McDonald’s was better than the Blue Hole.

I speculated that Esicar’s was closed because the store didn’t show any signs of life.




Esicar’s Looks Closed

I mentioned back in April that I didn’t think I had ever been in Esicar’s. There was such an immediate outcry from readers wondering if was really a Cape Girardeau resident that I had to scurry to produce a certified copy of my birth certificate. That, plus a pledge to try them the next time I hit town stilled the mob for awhile.

The photo above was taken April 22, not long after a March 6, 2011, fire that did an estimated $300,000 damage to the structure. The Missourian reported that the electrical fire was ruled accidental. The portable sign in front of the store reads, “Thank you for your support & business. We will open ASAP.”

Still closed July 22

After passing the place for a couple of weeks without seeing any activity, I stopped by the business on July 22. The portable sign promising to “reopen ASAP” is gone, but the two white buckets full of greasy water are still there.

This was taken at 10:41 am, on a Friday, well within the posted business hours, but the door was locked and two CLOSED signs were displayed.

Looks the same as it did in April

Everything inside the north front window looks like it’s in the same place as it was on my last visit.

South window unchanged

Nothing has changed in the south window in three months and the glass has that smoky, greasy appearance of a building where a fire has occurred. The OPEN sign was not illuminated.

Fliers promote March events.

More telling is that the fliers in the window promote events that happened in March. If a Cape County business doesn’t have a Jacque Sue Waller poster up, then you KNOW they’re closed.

(Jacque Sue Waller is a mother of triplets who went missing on the day when she was going to finalize divorce proceedings and to pick up her son from his father. Her car was found abandoned with a flat tire along I-55, but there’s been no trace of her. Her husband is a “person of interest,” but no arrests have been made because it’s not clear what crime, if any has been committed. Keep watching TV. The missing woman is young and attractive, so she may be the next woman to take over Casey Anthony’s spot on the news. The Missourian has created a special section to keep you updated.)

Interior in disarray

A glance through the front store window shows an unplugged freezer on a cart, general disarray, partially empty soft drink bottles on the counter and a dark ceiling that looks like has black smoke near the vent in the middle of the room. It’s pretty much the same as I remember seeing in April.

Neighboring businesses don’t know anything

I checked with two businesses just south of the store. One said they hadn’t seen anyone in the place since the March fire. Another thought they were closed and did an Internet search which turned up at least one complaint from someone who had a gift card that wasn’t being honored.

I placed a call to the telephone number listed on Esicar’s Old Hickory Smokehouse website and reached a telephone company intercept message telling me that I have to dial a 1 or a 0 in front of the number. Considering that I’m calling from a cell phone, I can only assume that the call is being forwarded somewhere, because I shouldn’t have to dial a 1 or 0 in front of any number in the continental U.S.

Something else that’s odd about the website is that it has a management/ address. Does SEMO host business websites?

Empty shopping carts

A peek through the north window shows shopping carts in the same position for three months.

Is this the end of the line?

Esicar’s was established in 1934 and was sold in 2007. Will a fire in 2011 mark the end of a Cape Girardeau landmark business? If anyone has any information about when and if the business is going to reopen, let me know.

It sounds like it’s over for Esicar’s for now

Update: after writing this and before pressing the PUBLISH button, I received an email from a reader who wrote, “They are not going to open again under this ownership.  The electrical fire destroyed all the meat cases, the interior and all the meats they had
on hand.  I will really miss them and I can’t find any bacon that is nearly as good as theirs. What a loss!  The insurance did not begin to cover their expenses.”