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Maude Cobb kitchen renamed to honor Longview restaurateur Cace

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
Nov. 16, 2012 at 10 p.m.

In a teary-eyed, emotional ceremony Friday, the food preparation area at Maude Cobb Activity and Convention Center was renamed the Gerard Cace Kitchen.

The event honored the longtime restaurant owner and civic leader and was part of a meeting of the Longview Greggton Rotary Club - of which Cace was a member.

Cace, 59, was co-owner of Johnny Cace's Seafood and Steakhouse; it is now run by his wife, Cathy, with help from their daughters, Chelsea Cace and Jenni Cace Woerndle. He died July 19 while returning from a fishing trip.

John Green, a member of the club and fellow parishioner of Cace's at St. Mary's Catholic Church, said naming the kitchen in his friend's honor was a fitting tribute.

"Gerard Cace was an important member of this club, and his restaurant probably catered at least 70 percent of the events that have been held here over the years," Green said. "He was always out to promote the entire community."

Mayor Jay Dean said Cace always had the community's interest at heart.

"He was a great Longview resident," Dean said. "Nothing is more appropriate than to rename this kitchen in his honor."

Speaking through tears, Cathy Cace remembered her husband and gave a short history of their restaurant.

"I'm so overwhelmed," she said. "This is such a wonderful honor. No words can express the depth of my feelings, but I know Gerard is just really smiling down on us."

Cathy Cace said the restaurant was started by her father-in-law, Johnny Cace, in the late 1940s.

It was originally in the downtown area and moved to its location on Marshall Avenue in the 1960s.

When Johnny Cace was contemplating a move to East Texas from his native Louisiana, one of the first people to encourage him to open a restaurant in Longview was Paul Painter, Cathy Cace's father.

"It's beautiful how our fathers met before we were even born, and God brought us together 30 years later," she said.

Cace said she and her daughters - with the help of God and the support of the community - intend to continue running the business in much the same manner as it always has been - occasionally adding modern touches, but mostly sticking with the time-tested recipes.

"It's truly a family tradition and a family business," she said.

The Caces aren't the only family for which their restaurant is a tradition. Marty Walker said his parents took him there every year for his birthday when he was growing up, and it's something he's continued to do even now that he's in his 50s.

Karen Maines said she didn't get to go Johnny Cace's as a child, because her parents considered it a sophisticated, adult type of place.

"They took me there for my 16th birthday, and I felt so grown-up, because I was finally getting to eat at the famous Johnny Cace's," Maines said. "Many years later, I took my own daughter there for her 16th birthday."

Cathy Cace said she lost count long ago of the number of engagement parties, rehearsal dinners and anniversary parties that have been held at the restaurant.

The renaming of the kitchen is just one of several ideas being planned or in progress to honor Gerard Cace's memory. The kitchen at Hallsville High School has been renamed after him, and the Historic Longview Farmers Market and Preservation Longview are planning to re-landscape the area in front of the restaurant and are trying to get a historical marker for the building.

There are also plans to create the Gerard Cace Culinary Arts Scholarship for the new culinary arts program at Kilgore College.



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