Local Entrepreneurs Rise to the Occasion and Share the Ride

As written for iluvlocalplaces.com 10/2016

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you have no doubt heard of rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.  What you may not know is that Cape Girardeau is poised to get its very own version by the name of carGO.  The ride share service is designed to work in micropolitan, or hometown markets, where people are more likely to know each other.  Up until now, this is a market untapped by larger rideshare companies as they tend to focus on larger cities.

I recently sat down with carGO business managers, Gunnar Knudtson and  Kyle Campbell, to get the scoop on their exciting new venture.   James Stapleton of Codefi and Jeffrey Maurer of Mayson Capital Partners of Cape Girardeau spearheaded the micropolitan rideshare concept.  The service is designed to be an on-demand ride service similar to those in the larger markets.  A major defining feature of carGO is the ability to request a ride from your smartphone – connecting you with background checked and safety trained drivers.  A further defining feature specific to carGO is the ability to “favorite” and request particular drivers or be matched with nearby drivers.


L to R, Maurer, Stapleton, Campbell, Knudtson

When I asked Gunnar and Kyle why this particular business, they said an opportunity like this right out of college was not something they could walk away from.  Both Gunnar and Kyle were studying business at the University of Mississippi, and both had no plans to come back to Cape.  But as we all know, life is funny that way.  Gunner explained the pair received a call one day indicating Stapleton and Maurer wanted to meet and discuss the business idea over dinner.  Gunner recalls with a laugh, “that meeting lasted over four hours.”  He said they felt like they were on “cloud nine” afterward, recognizing that they had an incredible opportunity in front of them.  Although the pair has a background in business management and interest in starting a business, neither has experience launching a tech-infused start-up.

Gunnar and Kyle immediately took up residence in the Codefi co-working space in the Federal Building and started the grind.  Although the business idea was already in place, the pair would have to create processes and finalize details.  This meant partnership agreements, working with the app development, logistics, and a host of legalities and marketing issues related to locating drivers and riders.  Then there is the fact that the service has never been tried in the Cape area.  No pressure guys.  Gunnar and Kyle both express sincere gratitude to the folks at Codefi (https://www.codefiworks.com/) and for the way the up and coming Tech District have nurtured the process.

When asked what success looks like for the new venture Kyle said, “getting that first ride requested and completed.” As the pair laugh, Gunnar chimes in saying that he is hopeful for “future expansion into multiple markets” as the long-term indicator of success.  Both gentlemen agree that the experience is going to be a great learning experience.



The carGO app and website are currently under development.  Potential drivers and riders can visit the site http://www.gocargo.io/ to sign up for more information.

carGO headquarters will be located in the Marquette Tower Tech District.


Roses are Red…

12 Ways to Enjoy (or SURVIVE!) Valentine’s Day

Normally when someone talks about Valentine’s Day I’m the first to retort with a “bah humbug” and a dissertation on the evils of commercialized holidays. You see, I believe that love (and chocolate) should be celebrated everyday! That being said I’d like to offer the following ways to make the day special no matter your relationship status or your political slant towards cupid.

1. Gifts: There is always the traditional notion of flowers and candy. These can be affordable even if you are on a budget and what girl doesn’t love both?! but for a really unique gift idea why not peruse the local antique stores? There are several downtown and you are sure to find something to surprise and delight that special guy or girl. Whatever your taste or budget be sure to shop local!

2. Be My Valentine: Don’t forget the card. Remember those old school Valentines you use to make and send as a kid? An old fashioned Valentine (with a spritz of perfume or cologne) is sure to be swoon-worthy, especially if it shows up in the mail. Imagine the surprise of a handwritten note among the junk mail and bills.

3. Must Love Dogs: Sometimes you just need to hug a puppy. The Humane Society is always looking for volunteers, why not spend the day helping ease the hearts of some unwanted animals? You might even find a new love there! On a related note, if you already have a dog there is a great new dog park open in Kiwanis Park. You could treat Sparky to a run and meet other dog lovers in the area.

4. Tunes for the Troops: Maybe you have a loved one that is currently deployed. Why not pop a USB or CD full of music in that care package. And ok, I’m going to show my age, we need to bring back the mixtape! You know what I’m talking about and you know you loved them! Your special mix of 80’s hair band ballads and Marvin Gaye is sure to get their toes tapping. No compilation is complete without some Miles Davis. Check out “It Never Entered My Mind”, a very romantic song indeed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsb-lXec76w

5. Luck Be A Lady: The Isle of Capri has dinner specials, slots by the dozens and live music. If it’s warm enough check out the patio upstairs at Keller’s, it is beautiful and quite relaxing.

6. Lunch at First Bite: Maybe one or both of you are working the evening of Valentine’s Day. Why not meet for a lunch date? Broussard’s has a great menu and you could enjoy a walk down by the river after lunch. Don’t forget that Katy O’ Ferrells  is now open for lunch.  You could warm your heart with an Irish coffee and a shepherd’s pie.  either way you get a great lunch and then you get to think about each other the rest of the day – how’s that for romantic?

7. Play and Be Crafty: Moms, we are lucky to have several arts and crafts places in our area. One such places is Cateye Glasses Studio. They offer art classes for kids and adults. Or if you don’t think paint and your kiddo mix you could make an afternoon of fun out of the Discovery Playhouse. They have all kinds of kid-friendly exhibits.

8. Dinner and a Movie: If you are more the traditional type, Bella Italia and Rays of Kelso are sure to please. Both are a lovely choice for a romantic dinner before heading out to cuddle up during a movie.

9. Happy Hour: Cathy at the Library Bar puts on an amazing happy hour on Fridays. Relax in the upscale ambiance while enjoying a bite to eat, good music and of course great company. The Library is a very popular destination for all age groups over 21! And if you haven’t checked out her new edition, The Study, you are in for a real treat.

10. Quality Time: This is a great day to spend time with a family member. You could Netflix a night in and watch old movies or go out for something fun like pedicures or a day at the spa. Don’t forget My Daddy Cheesecake for a sweet treat.

11. Shake Your Groove Thing: Rude Dog, Rhymer’s, the VFW and Whiskey River always have something fun lined up for the weekend. Grab your boogie shoes and check out the calendar at iluvlocaplaces.com for events and times: http://iluvlocalplaces.net/Joomla-illp/

12. All you Jacksonites – I didn’t forget you! For a fantastic lunch or breakfast check out the Hickory House.  Their food is simply amazing.  I’m talking made from scratch home style meals and a dessert case that will capture your heart. Also – check out the new BG’s Jackson location.

Well there you have it. With so many fun things to do in our area it is hard to narrow it down. No matter how you spend the day or who you choose to spend it with, always believe in the magic of love. (And chocolate.)

As written for iluvlocalplaces.com

Don’t Throw Out That Holiday Fruitcake!

Everything you see when you enter Rob Foeste’s Broadway Beirgarten is by design. The beautiful tables are imported from Germany. They were specifically created with a short width to ensure you stay engaged in conversation with your companions. You will also find imported glassware doting the counters. The glassware is well made with a thick and heavy feel. The kind that clinks joyfully when you toast to good times. Rob says, “You wouldn’t put a nice filet mignon on a paper plate. Why would you put a beer that took six months to get here in the wrong glass?” It is all about the experience and customer enjoyment for Rob. The specific combination of those elements are what he hopes to share with patrons. When asked if he thinks that not serving liquor could be detrimental to his business he says, “No. We want to hit a certain taste bud for Cape Girardeau and give them the best possible beer experience here in Cape. We do that by focusing on what we are good at”.

Rob comes from a long line of entrepreneurs that have called Cape Girardeau home for their small businesses. He has lived around the center of Cape his whole life. He remarks that he had been waiting for this opportunity, so when it came his way he made it happen. Rob says he loves the interaction with the people. He says, “When you don’t get that face time with individuals you feel like you miss out”. He feels that part of his recipe for success with his business is the fact that he is a long time local. He says of his business, “It’s got to have someone from here, it’s got to have the heart and soul”. For Rob, his work is an extension of his personality. After all, he has been cultivating his passion for beer for over a decade now. He laughs a little and says, “I live, breathe, eat and sleep it. I love sharing it with the community.”

The Biergarten’s claim to fame, so to speak, is the philosophy of 50% beer education and 50% beer exploration. So of course I had to test him! But first I wanted to learn a little bit about the food and get an idea of what people may not know about the Biergarten. Rob jokes that his Cape Famous wings are “craft wings”. He says that they are a big seller in addition to ever popular made from scratch German pretzels. When it comes to the beer selection, Rob says to keep an open mind. You will not be able to pull up your chair to the standard old light beer. This place is full of imports! There is a range of 28-36 on tap, a ton more in bottle and the largest selection of ciders in Cape. There truly is something for every taste – even for the ladies I might add! It is a matter of finding what type of taste you like explains Rob. He says, “Don’t be intimidated by the choices. Whether you are looking for sweet, sour, bitter… it doesn’t matter. We can help you find things you may not think you like, but then find you actually do!”

So to test Rob’s theory I showed him the first of the two surprise items I brought. I asked him to pair dark (90% cocoa) chocolate with a complimentary beer. Within seconds I had a delightful Belgium Raspberry Lambic sitting in front of me. The sweetness of the raspberry cut the bitterness of the chocolate perfectly. Before I could utter another word, there was a second sample sitting in front of me. It was a Coffee Stout. Chocolate and coffee mixed with beer. There are no words. He laughed and said that test was too easy. So, thinking I was really going to throw him off his game I pulled out a fruitcake! I’m talking about the mother of all fruitcakes in its heavy, spiced-up, gummy glory. By the time we stopped laughing there was a sample of a Sweet Winter Warmer in front of me. Yep, it did not even phase him. He said that something like a fruitcake with its “crazy nutty spicy notes” can be paired with something similar like a Belgium Dubbel Ale or the Winter Warmer which is a little more bitter. The fruitcake tasted amazing with the Winter Warmer. It truly brought the spices and the fruit and nut combo to life. It was so good in fact, that I might look forward to next year’s obligatory Christmas treat! Well done, sir. Well done.

As written for iluvlocalplaces.com

Just the Facts:

Location: Broadway Beirgarten is located at 818 Broadway St in downtown Cape Girardeau.

Hours: Open 7 days a week starting at 4p Mon – Fri and 12p Sat-Sun
The hours are designed to be accommodating to patrons. Rob remarks that he is open at times that make it easy for “our friends in the industry to get a good beer”.

Architecture: The building was commissioned in 1928 by German immigrant John Jaeger. Since that time it has been a hardware store, a distributor, a candy and ice cream shop and a cafe to name a few. (www.cityof cape.org, walking tour). The building still features the original tin ceiling and a curious coat of arms.

Future Plans: Future plans for the location include an outdoor biergarten by spring of 2015 and a wine tap system.