Southeast Missouri State University student publication

A late night favorite closes its doors

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Don's Store 24 closed last month after 40 years. - Photo by Callie Leitterman

After nearly 40 years as a downtown Cape Girardeau landmark, Don's Store 24 has left a void in the hearts and stomachs of Southeast Missouri State University students and alumni.

The 24-hour convenience store at 341 S. Sprigg St. closed last month, but memories of its popular late-night food -- especially its slinger -- live on.

The slinger at Don's included hash browns, gravy, chili and cheese smothering two biscuits -- which doesn't sound appetizing, admits Southeast alumna Dasha Ustinova.

"But when you're drunk, it's really good," Ustinova said. "It was like their signature dish. Don's had the best food ever."

Ustinova said Don's was similar to a Subway-style restaurant. Customers were able to see their orders as they were being prepared.

"They had other food, too, but the slinger was their No. 1 seller," Ustinova said. "All of my friends knew about it -- that's how I came across it."

Southeast student Kayla Foster said that she was disappointed to drive past Don's Store 24 and find it closed. She said her first visit was with her friends after a party one night.

"I was like, 'What's a slinger?'" Foster said. "It was amazing, though. I think that's the one thing everybody in Cape should've at least tried once."

Foster said the slinger at Don's was a giant pile of heart attack -- but a giant, delicious pile of heart attack.

"They had other stuff that you could get, but most people just went in for the slinger," Foster said. "I never knew anyone who was like 'Oh my gosh, they have great corn dogs!'"

Foster said her brother attended Southeast about 10 years ago and often talked about how he and his friends would go to Don's Store 24 for slingers after leaving the former Purple Crackle nightclub in East Cape Girardeau, Ill.

"Every time we'd go in, we'd get a slinger," Foster said. "I can't tell you how many times we'd go back after partying and get a slinger. It was so good."

Foster recalls that owner Don Caldwell, who could not be reached for comment, was "just as nice as could be."

Southeast alumna and Cape Girardeau native Tami Thompson said she never ate an entire slinger from Don's Store 24, but she once took a bite from her uncle's.

"That's as close as I got to actually eating one," Thompson said.

Her favorite dishes at Don's were fried chicken and potato wedges with cheese and hot sauce.

As a child, Thompson remembers going with her grandmother to Don's to buy curly fries -- "They were so good!" -- but once arrived to find two men in an altercation.

"One guy ended up getting punched in the face," Thompson said. "That was the last time my grandmother took me to Don's for curly fries.