Happy holidays!! I can’t believe that time has come around again already! In just two and a half weeks, it will be this blog’s first birthday, and it still feels like it’s brand new. Each year seems to pass more quickly than the last, and I would love for time to slow down!
I kicked off the holiday season this year in new ways that I really hope become annual traditions. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving I went to a beer pairing dinner at one of my favorite spots in town, with my friends Zach and Jenny. Gabriel’s is a fine dining, yet relaxed and cozy, Italian restaurant. Gabriel’s partnered with Minglewood, a local brewery, and Sugar Chic Creamery, a local ice cream shop, to host a family-style dinner with four courses, each paired with a different beer.
There was charcuterie with imported Italian meats and cheeses, flaming mac n cheese made with fresh parmesan and truffle oil, then porter-braised pork with roasted potatoes and carrots, and a sweet and lightly tart lemon ice cream for dessert. A different beer was paired with each course, my favorite being the porter that came with the braised pork. I wish I had paused to take more pictures, but we were having way too much fun for the thought to even cross my mind!
After Thanksgiving comes the infamous Black Friday. I will spare you my thoughts on materialism and unregulated capitalism and their negative impact on humankind. Instead I will jump up and down with glee declaring my love for small businesses! When I’m not writing to you on this blog, I am busy at my day job as an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan processor. I have the privilege of seeing small business owners open, expand, and grow their businesses every single day. I see first-hand the impact of small businesses on a local community, and I’ve watched our downtown be completely revitalized and renewed with the influx of new small businesses. Downtown Cape Girardeau is bursting with vitality, and it is an incredible thing to be a part of!
I work downtown. I play downtown. I have an integral role in helping small businesses open and operate downtown. And on Small Business Saturday–I shop downtown! There are so many businesses now that I couldn’t even hit them all, or make purchases at all of them…since I am, after all, a single mom and homeowner with no credit card debt and an unwavering plan to keep it that way!
I made my first stop on Broadway at a cute little doggy shop called Mississippi Mutts, to meet Jenny and Heather. They have every pet product you could possibly need for your dogs and cats, including homemade treats. They also have self-serve dog washing stations for you to bring in your Fido for his bath. I bought Ruby a new winter sweater and some peanut butter cookies, which she absolutely loved!
We met up with Caitlin at Dynamite Coffee, got some caffeine to fuel our shopping, then set off walking. We started out on Broadway at Bloom Studio and Gifts. This is the one place downtown where you can find Kate Spade! I could’ve spent hundreds in this store had I been shopping for myself (or had that much to spend!). There were beautiful gold Kate Spade office supplies and stationery that I would’ve loved for my office space in my basement library/guest room!
They have Christmas decorations, framable wall prints, jewelry, candles, pillows, travel cups, baby products, bath and body, day planners…so many adorable gifts and displays that make you want to curl up with the fluffy pillows on the jade green bench in the center of the store and bask in the girlish charm.
The shop is in an historic building with exposed brick walls, soft robin egg blue paint, and a sparkly white wrought iron and crystal tear-drop chandelier. The shop’s owner styled the entire room around a vibrant rug she has in the center under the bench, and she did a beautiful job. A well-decorated boutique will always invite you in and make you want to stay a while. Bloom is where I found the gift that inspired the spa basket gift idea for my mom, grandma and step-mom (who probably just read that and now know what they’re getting for Christmas!).
If you like antique shops, you could spend an entire day in Downtown Cape Girardeau. As we walked down Main Street, we came across antique stores that I didn’t even know were there! I stop at Brick Street quite a bit after the farmer’s market in warmer months, and I always have to stop at Annie Laurie’s further up Broadway before coming downtown. But I don’t hit the stores on Main Street very often, and when I do it’s always Pastime Antiques.
They have two things that make them stand out from the antique store crowd on Main and Spanish Streets–an entire room dedicated to vintage and thrift fashion, where I spent time trying on hats from the 1960’s, and an entire booth filled with vintage magazines. One of these days when I have more time to spend I need to go through their endless stacks of The Saturday Evening Post and see if they have a couple of issues with short stories I would love to have the originals of. What I ended up buying there were items on a display by the checkout…products for my spa gift baskets that are locally made!
I made another antique store stop on my own later that evening. I was on my way back downtown to meet friends for dinner and drinks, and I had to stop at Annie Laurie’s since I didn’t get to earlier in the day. Annie Laurie’s is five blocks up Broadway from Main Street, so it wasn’t in our Small Business Saturday route. But…it’s by far the best antique store in town!
They always manage to come up with the most beautiful furniture, and the historic building where the shop is located is cute, whimsical, and begs passersby to enter. You’ll be greeted by Zsa Zsa (presumably named after Hollywood icon Zsa Zsa Gabor, although I haven’t confirmed this theory), the mannequin on the bench out front who donnes a different outfit and wig every day, on your way in. She has become a bit of Downtown Cape celebrity, making her name all the more fitting!
We made stops at a few other shops on Small Business Saturday. We stepped inside a painting shop called Board & Brush Creative Studio, which I didn’t know was there until that day. You know those wine and painting events that have boomed in popularity? Well this is a lot like that, except instead of canvas you get to create your own wood signs and wall décor. They have regularly scheduled painting classes, and they can be booked for private events. You can even buy wine and beer to sip while you paint!
Just a hop, skip and a jump from Board and Brush, is a clothing boutique called Stash in yet another beautiful downtown building. I found so many cozy sweaters there that I wanted to snuggle up in, and Jenny found a crossbody purse that she loved and her sister Heather bought it for her Christmas gift. While they were checking out, I had to stop for a photo op on the gorgeous antique green loveseat situated in the center of the brick room!
Right next door is a gift boutique called Annie Em’s Antiques & Gifts. This place smelled incredible when we walked in! They had an entire display dedicated to balsam fir which appeared to be the culprit of the delightful smell. There was home décor, kitchen wares, bath and body, baby, and even more home décor! Everything they had was high-quality, and absolutely beautiful. I wanted to transplant their entire balsam fir display straight into my living room.
Jenny and Heather had to leave after this stop to make the SEMO football game, so Caitlin and I called it quits on the shopping and went for lunch. There are so many restaurants downtown to choose from, all within walking distance: Minglewood Brewery, Katy O’Ferrel’s Publcik House, Bella Italia, Broussard’s Cajun Cuisine, Port Cape, Ebb and Flow Fermentations, 36 Restaurant and Bar…and these are just the ones on and surrounding Main Street! But since Caitlin doesn’t live in Cape and doesn’t get to venture downtown as often as I do, we went to her favorite spot (and mine too), even though I’d just been there for the beer pairing dinner four days earlier – Gabriel’s Food + Wine.
They just released a new menu earlier that week, so it was a perfect time to stop in. The beer pairing dinner was a special event in their boutique and event room next door, so this time we were having lunch in the main dining area of the restaurant. The food is out of this world amazing, the wine is crisp and smooth, and you can see your food being prepared while you wait because it has an open kitchen right in the middle of the room. This chef’s table concept did not previously exist in Cape Girardeau, and it has been a huge success. I have never heard a single negative word spoken of Gabriel’s, and I’m confident that I never will.
I’ve been for lunch and dinner, to their cooking classes where you learn how to make pasta from scratch, to a beer pairing dinner, and even just sat and sipped a glass of wine at the bar in the back of the restaurant. From the food, to the wine, to the interior design and ambience–I’ve felt perfectly at home and pleased with every experience. It’s fine dining, but without that pretentious and stiff feeling you often get from fine dining places. There truly is no other restaurant like it in town!
That night we had dinner at El Sol, which is my friend Trevor’s favorite downtown place to eat. Then Zach, Jenny, Heather and I went downtown to the newest brewery, and my new favorite place to grab a drink and hang for the evening, or for the afternoon on the patio during the warm seasons–Ebb & Flow Fermentations. We drank beer and talked the night away, until I finally had to call it a night and head home so I could get up early and travel for one last Thanksgiving dinner in the morning.
Every stop we made that day was a local small business, which made for a perfectly successful Small Business Saturday. It was more about the experience, the supporting of local business owners, and the time well-spent with friends than it was the buying of Christmas gifts. And that, my friends, is what the holidays are all about!