Founder of Cape’s McDonald’s Killed in Crash

1967 Achievement - Cape Ricardos 47I shot this photo as a candidate for The Missourian’s annual Achievement Edition because it looked like Ricardo’s Italian Swiss Chalet Ristorante on Broadway had been spiffed up. My newspaper buddies are going to say I buried the lead, so stick in there until the very end for a surprising twist.

Not as spiffy in 2009

700 Block of BroadwayI was scrolling through some of the other pictures I’ve taken walking up and down Broadway more recently and spotted this 2009 picture that makes the building look a little rough. I can’t tell what has gone into what used to be Sisco’s Professional Barber Salon on the left. There are some beer signs in the window, so it may have been joined with the former Ricardo’s.

Tattoos replace optometrists

700 Block of Broadway 10-28-2009Optometrists Joe L. Mosley and James A. Drace have been replaced by a tattoo parlor.

Owner of landmark business dies in crash

Pfisters outdoorsWhen I did a search for “Ricardo’s” I couldn’t believe the story that showed up in the March 7, 2003, Missourian:Crash kills founder of Cape McDonald’s.”

As 13 of the fast-food restaurants around Southeast Missouri continue to fly their flags at half-staff, authorities are pointing to bad weather as a contributing factor in the Wednesday night airplane crash that took the life of Jerry Davis, the man who brought McDonald’s to Cape Girardeau 35 years ago.

The McDonald’s connection would have been enough to make him an important figure in Cape’s dining scene, but a detail at the bottom of Scott Moyer’s story was astounding:  In the past, Davis has also owned Royal N’Orleans and three eating establishments that have since closed: Ricardo’s, Shakey’s Pizza and Pfisters Drive-In.

Except for Wimpy’s, Mr. Davis had a corner on Cape Girardeau’s version of American Graffiti.

Tom’s Pizza, Not Tony’s

I was all excited when I found these negatives of what I thought was Tony’s Pizza Palace across from the Rialto. That was the place that defined pizza for me. I sat in there many a night wolfing down pizza that cost, maybe, three bucks, and pumping quarters into the jukebox. Tony cut his pies into square slices, too, something I haven’t encountered anywhere else. We had a long discussion about pizza places in Cape in a May 2010 post. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Joint in Columbia looked like Tony’s

In the summer of 1964, Nancy Jenkins and I went to a summer workshop for yearbook staffers at Missouri University in Columbia. While we were there, we walked into a pizza joint that had the same look and feel as Tony’s: same ovens, same square pieces, same layout. It was uncanny.

Deju vu all over again

Shortly after I transferred to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, I walked into a pizza place about four blocks down Court Street from the student newspaper office and this crazy feeling of deja vu: the place was laid out like Tony’s, had the same menu, same square slices. The only difference was that it was called Tom’s Pizza Palace. I was blown away.

Watching it being made

After I became a regular, I told Tom about the crazy coincidence of three pizza parlors in three different towns in two states that were carbon copies of each other. He laughed and said that they were all relatives of Tony’s. He found the formula of small college towns and good quality for a reasonable price to be a hit with college students and locals alike. Every so often, Tony would go back home to Greece and recruit a new relative to open up a pizza parlor.

I don’t know if the story was true, but it had the right ring to it.

Where’s the Jukebox?

When I started looking closely at the pictures, something didn’t feel right about it being Tony’s. I remembered the jukebox being in the back of the room, not the side of the room.

That’s not Broadway

The view out the front window should have been the parking lot between the Rialto and the H&H Building on Broadway, not a storefront.

Pizza box is the giveaway

The giveaway was when I looked closely at the top of the pizza box: Tom’s Pizza Palace.

So, if you were in Athens during the late 60s, this will make you feel right at home. If you were in Cape and loved Tony’s square slices, this is as close as I can get you until I find some new negatives.

Tony’s is a tattoo parlor

When I took this photo October 24, 2009, a tattoo parlor had moved into Tony’s old place. The sign fixture looks like the one I remember from Back When.

(You know, I may be wrong about the sign. I looked in the background of some photos of the 1964 Homecoming Parade and noticed the sign was square, not rectangular. Maybe the new business used the same mount, but changed the sign.)