In the early 1920's, Joe Alesce opened and operated a small grocery on the present site of the Pastime. For many years, this grocery served the south Baton Rouge area, serving traditional groceries and package liquor. The grocery store slowly faded as Mr. Alesce turned it into a small lounge with a dance floor and called it the Pastime Lounge. People from all over the city would come to dance in a building that had something that was rare during those times, air conditioning. Every Friday and Saturday night, the place was packed with people dancing to the Juke Box, Nel Rose English and other local bands.
During football season, The Pastime became "the Place" to go before and after the games. It was the closest place to the campus that you could buy alcohol. Saturdays became packed with students, faculty, fans and the LSU football players. Soon, Hazel Bell, a long time employee of Joe Alesce, introduced small food items in the "snack bar". She cooked everything on a small 2-burner stove and the place picked up the nickname of "Two Burners". Eventually, Mrs. Bell introduced more items to the snack bar menu, including a simple pizza and sandwiches. All was well, the place was always packed, and times were good, then progress stepped in.
In the early 60's, the newest bridge to span the Mississippi river was going to be built, and its path took it straight through the restaurant. During the construction of the bridge, the back half of the restaurant was torn down, and rebuilt to the side as part of the agreement between Joe Alesce and the government. Business halted. No one could come from the campus as the construction blocked easy access. With all the dust, dirt and construction going on right over the top of the building, it was hard and inconvenient for customers from the downtown area, Esso and the other plants to get to the building. It was soon after this, that Bobby Wesley and J.L. Mallet, left Hoppers Drive Inns, and bought the building and business from Joe Alesce. Coming from a restaurant background, Mr. Wesley and Mr. Mallet transformed the small snack bar into a larger kitchen, introduced poboys made with Fresh Daily New Orleans French Bread, home cooked meats and sauces, and improved and expanded the pizzas with the recipes used today.
As the business grew, the 1 mile alcohol exclusion from the campus was lifted, and the Pastime counted more on the restaurant sales, than on the bar sales. In the 70's, Mr. Wesley bought out J.L. Mallet and opened 2 more restaurants called Wesley's. Business continued to grow because of the quality of the food and the loyalty of several generations of regular customers. Mr. Wesley and his family continued to add food items to the business and cater to the downtown workers, plant employees, LSU students, LSU staff and the local residents.
In the early 1980's, Mr. Wesley was diagnosed with cancer and fought the illness for 13 years until his death in 1996. His Son, Randy Wesley, took over the business, expanded the kitchen again, and introduced more exotic pizzas and calzones. 62 years later, the Pastime has out lasted all other family owned restaurants and today is the oldest Restaurant and Lounge in Baton Rouge.
Over the years, the Pastime has served many famous people including, Joanne Woodward, Angelina Jolie', Billy Bob Thornton, Matthew McConaughey, Willie Nelson and more. We have had many past and present star athletes of LSU sports including, Billy Cannon, Jimmy Taylor, Simone Augustus and too many more to name. Many of Louisiana's prominate political figures including Edwin Edwards, Marion Edwards, Buddy Roemer, and almost every senator, representative, judge, police chief and sheriff.
In 2005, the Pastime was selected as number 88 of the top 100 independent Pizza restaurants in the United States, and again in 2007 where it placed #91. We have had numerous awards for our pizzas and poboys, and have had articles, reviews, recipes and kudos' written in the Advocate, Southern Living Magazine and Penny Pollacks "Everybody Loves Pizza", and more.
The Pastime serves the local area residents and visitors alike in the evening, during downtown events, university sporting events, River Center events, and from downtown hotels, travelers and tourists. We are a casual family restaurant open to all. Today's children will be the next generation of customers.