NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Drago Cvitanovich, founder of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, has died. He was 94.
The Cvitanovich family announced his death on the Drago’s Facebook page.
Cvitanovich fled Yugoslavia after World War II before it became Croatia.
He lived in Germany and Canada before moving with his wife, Klara, to New Orleans in 1964.
Cvitanovich opened his first Drago’s restaurant in 1969. It quickly became known for its charbroiled oysters.
When working at the restaurant, the highlight of Drago’s day was to sing “Happy Birzzday” to his guests who were celebrating.
Drago’s now has three locations in Metairie, New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi. The company employs more than 450 people.
The restaurants are now run by Cvitanovich’s son, Tommy.
The Monument to the Immigrant statue in Woldenberg Park has a inscription dedicated to Drago Cvitanovich and his wife, Klara.
It reads, “Drago and Klara Cvitanovich immigrated to the United States with a vision that only hard work and perseverance could make happen. What they gave to their sons and others is an example for generations to follow.”
Visitation for Drago Cvitanovich will take place from 5-9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6, at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home. Visitation will resume at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 at St. Clement of Rome Church in Metairie with a funeral mass following at 12:30 p.m. Burial will take place in Lake Lawn Park Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to: Drago’s Foundation, 3232 North Arnoult Road, Metairie, LA 70002. Contributions will be distributed to the Alzheimer’s Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Sunshine Kids, Jesuit High School, Mt. Carmel Academy, Christian Brothers School and St. Clement of Rome and Catholic Charities.