“Our loss is the state’s gain. Everyone has had memories at Ralph & Kacoo’s. If you want to come look around, please do. We will be auctioning everything inside the restaurant. It is bitter sweet to see a Louisiana landmark go down…at least for now that is. It’s such a large part of Louisiana history.”
You could call it the end of an era, a bitter-sweet end that is.
For nearly 40 years, Baton Rougeons & Louisianians have become accustomed to seeing the Ralph & Kacoo’s on Bluebonnet Blvd. Now, it’s counting the days to a final takeover from the state on Oct. 23rd, but not before giving you an opportunity to own a part of Baton Rouge history.
“They were 30 days out from opening when they found out about the project saying it was ‘eminent domain’ and we couldn’t continue,” said Shawn Gioe, regional director of Ralph & Kacoo’s. “The restaurant was closed for two years. We poured about $600,000 into renovations and then we had to completely stop.”
The reason for the abrupt halt is because of plans to expand the Baton Rouge Health District, now approaching its eighth year in the Capital City. Drivers may have noticed signs that highlight the areas around Essen & Bluebonnet as the “Health District.”
Ralph & Kacoo’s current locations cuts a path directly through the middle of the plans.
Per the $1.2 billion taxpayer-funded roadway program MovEBR, Constantin Blvd. connected Essen Ln. to the OLOL Children’s Hospital in 2019. Now, part two will connect Constantin Blvd. to Bluebonnet Blvd. However, that comes at the cost of ending Ralph & Kacoo’s nearly four decades of history in its current location.
“They did offer us fair market value for the land, but it’s still bitter sweet,” said Gioe. “Ralph & Catherine Olinde are the original owners and they still live in Baton Rouge. Catherine’s cousin called her Kacoo and that’s how the restaurant’s name came about. They opened their first location in New Roads on False River in 1969 so it’s been 52 years of serving Louisiana seafood. In the mid 80’s, they opened the Bluebonnet location that became the crown jewel. Downstairs was the restaurant and upstairs became the home office.”
“Everyone in Baton Rouge has some kind of history at the restaurant, perhaps not all good and that’s our own fault, but many could say it was good,” said Gioe. “That’s why we’re doing this.”
Everything in the restaurant will be auctioned off to the public on Oct. 1st, 2022. It literally includes anything that does not impact the structure.
J&W Auction House out of Walker, La. will be managing the auction. Jennifer & Wayne Watson are the owners with one of their sons, Gavin, & Wayne being the Louisiana licensed auctioneers.
“The owner contacted us and they only have a couple of weeks to get everything out,” said Jennifer Watson. “When it’s an ‘imminent domain,’ they can come in and take everything so Ralph & Kacoo’s has decided to auction off the things inside to get whatever they can from it.”
“Everything from the rocks in front of the building to the bathroom stalls will be up for grabs. Anything that’s inside and does not impact the structure, all kitchen equipment, light fixtures, the alligator, marlins, window shutters, booths, bar stools, buffets, the manager’s office desk, the huge clock right when you walk in, the margarita & coke machines, pictures,” said Watson.
“Probably every picture that was ever hung in the restaurant, we will be pulling them down to sell, the mirrors, ceiling tiles, literally everything that does not damage the structure. The iron gates are brand new,” said Watson.
The auction will be Oct. 1st at the restaurant. It’ll start at 10am and preview will be at 8am.
Anyone interested must bring their own tools to remove anything purchased & provide your own transportation for the item(s). If you cannot get it out on Saturday, you will have 7-10 days to get it out.
The current open Ralph & Kacoo’s locations include Bossier City, Beaumont & Lufkin Texas & Spanish Fort Mobile Alabama.
Gioe left the idea open for speculation as to whether they may open another Ralph & Kacoo’s in Baton Rouge in the future.
“We are Louisiana proud and Louisiana strong for generations to come. We invite you to ‘Come home to Ralph & Kacoo’s’,” said Gioe as he closed out the interview.