A business owner on and around the University Parkway corridor for 60 plus years, George Celles III opened Magee’s Patio Cafe/Cotton Patch in 1999 when it was still called College Avenue.
With the opening of Chick-fil-A, George is excited to see the area development, and yes that includes more dining options. A rising tide floats all boats and George understands this.
“I’m glad Chick-fil-A is here and I welcome them to the University Parkway corridor. We could use two or three more restaurants as far as I’m concerned,” said George. “You can’t eat chicken, hamburgers or BBQ every day, so we need to develop more places with the attitude of complimenting each other, not competing against each other. If we do this we can truly become a destination and all benefit from its prosperity.”
George first came to Natchitoches in 1956 to attend Northwestern State University. The Coca-Cola bottling plant was located where City Bank sits today. Before it was Magee’s, George ran several restaurants on the lot: Burger Chef, Steaming Hot and The Varsity in later years.
Sibley’s Grocery was located down the street where the Texaco is and the Washeteria used to be known as the Demon Grill.
The problem has always been the University Parkway corridor was overlooked by residents, college students and tourists as a destination for dining and shopping. Motorists were more likely to use University Parkway as a corridor to the Hwy. 1 Bypass and in later years I-49.
Foot traffic continued to decrease in the 90s and 2000s as more and more students were driving cars instead of biking or walking. And as the layout of the university changed, George said he started to see a drop in the foot traffic from students.
East Natchitoches soon became the booming destination point as many businesses chose to open locations on South Drive.
George started to see the tide turn with the opening of Pizza Inn in the early 2000s (where Sonic sits today). Then Dickey’s BBQ came along in 2014. Business at Magee’s rose 10% after it opened. This was the turning point for the corridor and for George. He began to believe that he and other business owners could make University Parkway the destination point he knew it could be.
“You can’t find a more beautiful campus or town anywhere in the state,” he said. “There’s just so much potential here.”