LAFAYETTE, LA (The Daily Advertiser) – The Lafayette location of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant is nearing completion in the former Mellow Mushroom building at 3151 Johnston St.
Drago’s is expected to open for limited dinner service Wednesday and Thursday to prepare staff for the formal opening this weekend.
“I’m so excited about our staff,” says Tommy Cvitanovich, majority owner of the family business. “We hired everybody from Mellow Mushroom who applied — about 20 or 25 people, including my assistant manager. And we hired another 110 people.”
Cvitanovich plans to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday afternoon before opening for dinner service at 5 p.m.
Can’t wait that long?
You can try to snag a table Wednesday or Thursday evening as the staff train. The soft opening will serve as a fundraiser, with 100 percent of food and drink sales benefiting local non-profits.
“I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas now,” Cvitanovich says. “I’m really excited, really excited to open up in Lafayette.”
The first location of Drago’s opened in 1969 in Metairie.
Drago’s didn’t open a second location until about 10 years ago when it opened inside of the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Drago’s opened a third location two years ago inside of a Hilton in Jackson, Mississippi.
The Lafayette location will be completely family owned like the original Metairie location. Partners are involved in the Hilton locations in Jackson and New Orleans.
Cvitanovich — named Restaurateur of the Year last week by the Louisiana Restaurant Association — has spent nearly every day of the past few weeks driving from New Orleans to Lafayette as he prepares to open the new restaurant.
He begins each morning at Mel’s Diner for two eggs over easy with wheat toast and a cup of coffee.
He breaks for lunch each day at Judice Inn for two burgers and a bag of chips.
The no-frills eateries remind Cvitanovich of what he loves about Lafayette.
“I love the history of the place,” he says of Judice Inn. “There’s a culture in there. And I love — and I mean love-love — the arrogance of them saying, ‘We know everybody has fries, but we don’t care. In fact, we’re going to make a slogan about it.'”