f/8 and Be There
Fred Lynch

Airline Club

Posted Monday, January 25, 2010, at 6:30 AM

The rebuilt Airline Club, 217 N. Kingshighway, which appeared in a Dec. 15, 1949 advertisement for the re-opening of the business, was photographed by G.D. Fronabarger. The original Airline Cafe was heavily damaged in the 1949 tornado that struck Cape Girardeau. Alliance Bank is now located at the site.

The bottom photo is a picture post card image of the Airline Tourist Court in the 1930s.

Sharon Sanders found these items from Out of the Past:

Jan. 15, 1932

Extension of the Missouri Pacific Railroad west of Highway 61 at Cape Girardeau's western city limits is completed; the tracks were extended about 300 feet to accommodate an oil base of the Airline Oil Co., which will be a bulk storage plant and retail outlet there; a tourist camp is also planned in connection with the project.

Sept. 1, 1932

Work has begun on the development of a five-acre tract of land just west of Cape Girardeau on U.S. 61 for the Airline Oil Co.; the project includes the construction of a large superservice unit, six large cabins for tourists, a wholesale oil base with four 10,000-gallon storage tanks, a warehouse and landscaping of the entire tract.

July 19, 1933

A frame-and-stucco building to house the office and warehouse of the Airline Oil Co. is being built on the company's grounds on U.S. 61; two tourist cabins have also been built on the site, and six more will be erected.

June 19, 1947

After being closed for month for remodeling, Airline Tourist Court will reopen Saturday with 13 cabins; tile floors have been installed in all cabins and carpentry work and painting have been done in remodeling program; new furniture has been installed in each cabin.

Dec. 15, 1949


A three-day formal opening of the new Airline, to continue through Saturday, was started today, seven months after the original building was flattened by the May 21 tornado.

Mr. and Mrs. Ray H. Brady, owners of the modernized structure on Kingshighway, said that particular emphasis will be given to serving banquets and small dinners in the large dining room which will seat 200 people.

The dining room is so arranged that curtains can be drawn to separate small groups from regular dining patrons, or into three separate small dining rooms if there is more than one entertainment at a time. The dining room, with entrance at the center, extends most of the length of the building at the rear.

Atop the new building is a three-room efficiency apartment occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Brady and his mother, Mrs. M.G. Brady.

Mr. Brady said that favors of carnations for the men and roses for the women will be given during the three-day formal opening.

Dec. 27, 1950

Seven Cape Girardeau establishments are licensed to sell liquor by the drink beginning Jan. 1 for six-month period, until start of new fiscal year July 1, when licenses will be renewable for full year; establishments receiving licenses are the Last Chance, the Airline, the Rainbow Room, Good Hope Tavern, the Wagon Wheel, the Blue Note, and Sprigg Street Tavern.

Dec. 29, 1951

Rep. Paul Jones told Cape Girardeau labor union representatives and Democratic leaders at the Airline last night he is "concerned about the loss of confidence of the people in their government"; Democrat from Kennett, whose district includes Cape Girardeau, was referring to recent investigations by Congressional committees of corruption in Bureau of Internal Revenue and other departments.

May 23, 1959

The annual get-together of victims caught in the Airline establishment on U.S. 61 at the time it was demolished by the tornado, which struck Cape Girardeau on May 21, 1949, was held last evening at the rebuilt Airline; Mrs. Raymond Brady hosted the dinner event; only four of the original 19 victims were present: Mrs. Annabelle Ruebel, Mrs. Lois Atchley Myer, Mrs. Brady and Fred Hartle.

June 30, 1974

Following recent purchase by Barks and Sietz, Inc., of old Airline property, 217 N. Kingshighway, extensive renovation of place began last week to house plush, gourmet Italian restaurant; renovation will tranform old landmark into appearance of new structure of Italian motif on interior and exterior.

1976 Golden Dragon restaurant opened at 217 N. Kingshighway.

Jan. 24, 1994 (Monday)

The Golden Dragon Restaurant, 217 N. Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau, will close Tuesday for remodeling.

from Southeast Missourian, June 7, 1997:

Popular City Gathering Spot Comes Down

by B. Ray Owen

Les Lindy Jr. wanted a small piece of history from the old Airline Lounge.

He got it.

Lindy, owner of Lucky Find Antiques at Gordonville, purchased at a recent auction the almost half-century-old, lighted, revolving, 4-foot world globe that stood high atop the structure.

"It'll cost a lot more to get it down than I paid for it," Lindy said Friday.

The globe and the Golden Dragon Restaurant sign was all that remained on the site at 217 N. Kingshighway late Friday.

Lindy was on hand Friday as a piece of mid-century history crumbled as Eagle Excavation demolished the building.

The Golden Dragon, also known as the Airline and the Grogg Shop, was demolished to make room for a bank. Also on hand for the demolition was Robert Meyer of Dexter, an officer for the proposed new Alliance Bank, which has filed application for entry into the local market.

"We're looking to install a modular bank building here," said Meyer. He said the building could be in place within 60 days.

Early recorded history of the Airline building, which was outside the city limits at the time, is sketchy. But it dates back to the 1930s or earlier, when it was the Airline Cafe and Motel, later becoming the Airline Lounge.

A spectator at the demolition site Friday said it was named Airline because at one time a small airstrip was located at the site.

The Airline building was heavily damaged during the 1949 tornado that swept a path through the city. The Airline was rebuilt as the Airline Club, featuring a snappy sign and the 4-foot world globe.

The Airline was one of the first nightclubs in Cape Girardeau. It featured a number of bands that would stop by on trips between Memphis and St. Louis.

Some top musical groups played at the Airline during its hey-day as the Airline Lounge, especially during the rock 'n' roll era of the 1960s.

"It is not known when the building was the Grogg Shop, but lettering of the shop was found on some of the front windows that had long been hidden by the newer outside walls.

The Airline became the Golden Dragon Restaurant during the late 1960s, and continued to operate as a Chinese restaurant under a number of owners until it closed earlier this year.

An Italian restaurant opened in the former Airline Club building in December 1974:

La Grotta Azzura


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  • Mr. Lynch,

    Do you have any information as to what rock n' roll era acts travelled through our area, and performed at the Airline Club?

    As always, thanks for your very enjoyable blog!

    -- Posted by Lumpy on Mon, Jan 25, 2010, at 5:35 PM
  • That was great to read, and the 1940's photos are way cool!! I wonder what else was built around Cape at that time in the "modern" style? Can you imagine - cabins among bulk oil storage tanks? I never knew that the Golden Dragon building had such a long history, and the photo explains why it had such a unique appearance. Thanks again.

    -- Posted by jacksonjazzman on Mon, Jan 25, 2010, at 5:52 PM