Historic restaurant changes ownership

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

John and Jerrianne Wyman have reached an agreement to sell the historic Royal N'Orleans Restaurant to Ed Radetic, a local lawyer and restaurateur who currently owns Dairy Queen/Fresco. The deal marks the sale of the last of the longtime Cape Girardeau restaurateurs' eateries.

Radetic is working with the Wymans and the current management until the sale is finalized, which is expected to take place in the next two to three weeks, he said.

Radetic would not reveal the selling price, and phone calls to the Wymans were not returned Tuesday. Radetic said he will lease the building at 300 Broadway from the Wymans. He said he is part of a small group of investors who want to remain anonymous as silent partners.

Taking over a restaurant that has such a rich local history is a daunting challenge, Radetic said.

"It's been a part of Cape Girardeau as long as I can remember," he said. "There are great expectations for this restaurant, especially because of the memories and the experiences people had in that building. When people go there it's because it's a special night."

The Wymans started operating the business on Oct. 1, 1995. Radetic will become only the fourth owner of the restaurant, which was established in the historic Opera House in 1947 by Richard Barnhouse. He called his establishment the Petit N' Orleans Restaurant. Dennis Stockard acquired the property and restaurant in 1987.

The restaurant's business was interrupted in March 1990 when the building was heavily damaged by fire. The building was rebuilt and renovated to retain its 1860s exterior look and was reopened in February 1991.

The building was constructed in 1868 by the German Turner Society and was the social center of Cape Girardeau for a number of years, hosting parties, dances, weddings, minstrels, operas, wrestling and boxing matches.

"So many parents and grandparents celebrated so many special occasions there," Radetic said. "It's really integrated into the fabric of Cape Girardeau."

That's why, though he plans to evaluate the business over the next several weeks, customers shouldn't expect many changes.

"Given the historic nature of the building and the restaurant, we wouldn't dream of making any drastic changes," he said. "The N'Orleans has always been a wonderful restaurant, and we want to keep it that way."

Radetic has all but given up practicing law, though he still serves a small number of clients. Instead, he's focusing on his restaurants, which include the Dairy Queen/Fresco in Cape Girardeau on North Sprigg Street across from the Show Me Center. He has plans for another Dairy Queen in Jackson.

He said he spent about 20 years in the food-service industry before going to law school. His experience is broad: restaurants offering fast food, fine dining, eateries in national chains and hotels.

The Wymans have built up several restaurants in downtown Cape Girardeau before selling them, including Mollie's Cafe & Bar, the Bel Air Grill and Bella Italia.

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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