JulieAnn Thrower, the new owner of Cactus Cantina, isn't exactly sure how long the small business at 1201 E. Malone Ave. has provided food and beverages. Customers have told her that it was part of Sikeston during World War II when it served as an oasis for locals and the military.
Others suggested when she officially took over the business on Oct. 1 that she change the name back to the Park-A-Lot. That was the name back in the days when it offered curb service to customers.
The name will remain the Cactus Cantina. It was the name of the business, Thrower said, when as a 20-year-old she first worked for Ruth Shelton. Although she moved on to other jobs, Thrower explained she has always been involved in the restaurant business and returned to the Cactus Cantina last December.
When the business was offered for sale, Thrower said becoming the new owner just seemed natural.
"I already knew where everything was," she said with a smile. "I knew the people. And I wanted it to continue, it has been here a long time."
She will continue serving many of the specialities offered by the former owners. Thrower pointed out she has all of Shelton's Mexican recipes.
But there are some changes to the menu. During the week, she puts together a daily special, ranging from meatloaf to spaghetti to pork chops while Friday is set aside for a fish special.
Customers will also find mozzie sticks and cheese dips or if they are looking for something more substantial, the staff will prepare one of their 20-ounce steaks on the grill in the kitchen.
Thrower is promoting nightly specials also. Monday is "Wing Night," Tuesday is "Ladies Night" while Wednesday is set aside as "Men's Night" and Thursday is "Margarita Night." Happy Hour is from 3 to 6 p.m. daily.
The food and the specials are filling the tables at the Cantina, which has seating for 50. "Business is picking up," noted Thrower. "We really have a wide range of people coming in, including families."
Adding to the popularity of Cactus Cantina is the addition of live music. Sometimes it is guitar players while on Dec. 7 she will have a band.
During the quieter times, customers take turns at the video games or play the jukebox.
Thrower said she is enjoying her move from employee to owner, noting that while it is a lot of work, she is pleased with the response and hopes others will be too.
Summing up the longtime business, Thrower said: "We have good food and a fun atmosphere, someone is always laughing in here."
The kitchen at the Cactus Cantina is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.