Once upon a time, young people aspired to be adults. They wanted to be seen as sophisticated, worldly, self-assured. One of the marks of youthful sophistication for many young St. Louisans was a visit to Cyrano’s. The restaurant is now in Webster Groves, but this was the original one, at Clayton and DeMun, in a basement beneath the Hi-Fi Showroom. The Marshall family owned both businesses, which meant the European-style café-coffeehouse had an excellent sound system.
The dark, moody interior sported wooden tables and plenty of candles. It was the after-prom spot. Adults came, too, and on weekends there was always a line up the stairs. As guests descended, they could see McIntosh amplifiers, black-and-red VU meters, and TEAC reel-to-reel tape decks, powering the vibe from behind smoked glass.
The Cleopatra—an immense sundae with bananas, strawberries, chocolate sauce, and a mountain of whipped cream—was the signature dish. The menu sported pastries, a few sandwiches, and such exotica as espresso drinks and cheese plates.
An upstairs expansion yielded more room, but a fire in 1979 closed the restaurant. The next year, it reopened on Big Bend, where Riverbend is now located, and remained there until 1996. For years, people walked in still expecting Cleopatra and her friends.