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Whatever happened to Cedric’s Fish & Chips?

Ben Steelman

The building housing Davis & Son Tobacconists still has the distinctive English Tudor styling of its former tenant, Cedric's Fish & Chips. (Staff photo by Si Cantwell)

A Port City fast-food institution for more than a quarter-century, Cedric’s vanished in 1999, when Tim Davis bought the building at 3807 Oleander Drive, Wilmington [Map this], to relocate his business, Davis & Son Tobacconists, from Long Leaf Mall.

Cedric’s had been up for sale since 1997 when Emma Olsen, the president and principal shareholder, decided to retire and put it on the market.

Olsen and her husband John opened Cedric’s in 1970 (on the former location of House of Charm Beauty Salon). The Olsens also launched Wilmington’s first Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor next door, in 1973, and briefly operated a second Cedric’s on Market Street.

Originally, Cedric’s was a franchise, part of a chain of more than 60 restaurants headquartered in Columbia, S.C.

In the mid-1970s, however, the Cedric’s company collapsed. John Olsen sold the Baskin-Robbins, closed the Market Street location and turned the Oleander Drive restaurant over to his wife. She, in turn, handed management over to her daughter, Joan Olsen-Davis, and to Dan Davis.

Cedric’s signature menu item was its strips of Atlantic cod. Inspired by the traditional British fish-and-chips shop, it featured a monocled gent with a big bushy mustache as its logo. Olsen-Davis told the StarNews in 1997 that the restaurant counted a number of English expatriates among its regular patrons.

The product wasn’t exactly authentic: Cedric’s couldn’t serve its fish-and-chips in the traditional newspaper wrapping due to health regulations. It could, however, substitute steak fries (which were closer to the English chips) for its usual side of “tater rounds.”

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17 Responses to “ Whatever happened to Cedric’s Fish & Chips?”

  1. On October 21, 2010 at 2:51 pm HD wrote:

    I really do miss Cedrics. Perhaps the time is right to open a fast food seafood restaurant here like Captain D’s or Long John Silvers. I would certainly support it.

  2. On October 23, 2010 at 11:36 am justin wrote:

    A Long John Silver’s or Captain D’s? You’ve got to be kidding? Next thing you know, folks will want another Red Lobster to come to town…

    Considering all of our fresh, local seafood options, I’m baffled why anyone would want to partake of frozen, fishstick-like fare from drive-up grease shacks.

    Red Lobster tried to make a go of it back in the 80s, only to fail because of supply issues when they refused to serve locally-caught fish and shrimp.

    If you want something fast and fried, try Something Fishy or the Pirates Table…if you’re looking for good fish and chips, check out our locally owned restaurants like The Harp, Front Street Brewery and the Copper Penny.

    We’ve got enough franchise restaurants here in Wilmington – last thing we need is another “Pollock-in-a-Box” Crust McShrimpy…

  3. On October 27, 2010 at 11:53 pm Rick Sutcliffe wrote:

    Why not Captain D’s or Long Johns? Heck the greasy spoons do a killing here. Jones Fish Camp…just a plate of the triple bypass special. There is fresh seafood here…but the grease pits do the best. Give me Captain D’s or Long Johns…if someone opens one up…I bet they will need a traffic cop for the first week and they will make a killing for a long time.

  4. On December 14, 2010 at 12:23 pm marie wrote:

    While I have not tried all fish & chips meals in town, the closest in flavor to Cedric’s in my opinion is at Copperpenny downtown. This is also featured as their lunch special every Friday!

  5. On January 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm Gregory E. Johnson wrote:

    I remember Cedric’s…oh, the memories. I was born in Wilmington in 1973 and moved away with my family in 1986 to the Raleigh area.

    On occasion, my family and I would go to Cedric’s…and I do remember the second location too! I liked the decor of the place and even though they didn’t have the true newspaper wrapping, I think I remember they did have a “newspaper-themed” wrapper. :-)

    I also have a picture of the actual Cedric’s (the Oleander location) sign (taken on August 8th, 1994 on Facebook. Here is the link…if it could be accessed.


  6. On January 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm mike rourk wrote:

    Loved going to Cedric’s on market street back in the 70’s. They had a fish sub sandwich which was delicious. There is no fast food fish restaurant that i’ve been to since which comes close to the unique taste experienced at this place. Does anybody have their recipe for fish breading / seasoning/

  7. On January 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm christy wrote:

    oh lord i loved cedrics! such great memories! how i miss it! have yet to have fish n chips that even come close! when i discovered they had closed i wanted to cry! man some cedrics would be so awesome right now!

  8. On February 3, 2011 at 8:40 pm carol wrote:

    We had a Cedris’s here in North Augusta, SC just across the GA state line. It seemed to just vanish also. The iconic building sat there forever. It turned into a chinese restuarant then….torn down I think. I dont think there are any pictures of it.

  9. On February 7, 2011 at 8:48 pm Sharon wrote:

    I loved Cedrics. I especially liked their seasoning salt. I wish someone knew the ingredients.

  10. On May 11, 2013 at 8:42 pm Ira carter wrote:

    My brother worked at a Cedric’s in Augusta back in the mid 70’s. I know it sounds odd but what I miss the most is their sub sandwiches, it was my first exp. with a sub. and unto this day still the best I have ever had by far.

  11. On May 22, 2013 at 10:13 am w. kirkland wrote:

    I use to live at topsail beach in the mid 70’s to early 80’s and Cedrics was a fav of mine, the food was just delicious. So sorry to see that it is no longer. I could not wait to get to wilmington once a week to get their fish and chips. I would love to see the franchise open again somewhere within nc, because I would be willing to drive just to get those fish and chips. I now live close to greensboro nc, but if it has to be in wilmington no problem I would still be a loyal customer….w. kirkland

  12. On June 16, 2013 at 6:23 pm doub 7 wrote:

    My family moved to Wilmington from England in 1981. Of course we loved our fish and chips so we tried Cedric’s soon after. I was only a small child but still have vivid memories of the place, the smell and taste of the food was unmistakable. The shape of the building & the décor inside was memorable as well. When I saw the present day photo it was like I was standing outside the building all those years ago. I love my Long John Silver’s & Captain D’s but Cedric’s will always hold a special place for me. It was literally my first memory of food & my favorite dish at that. Even though it has been closed for 10 years it still saddens me to learn that I will never be able to experience it again. Having a conversation today at dinner with my parents about a restaurant we hadn’t eaten at in 30 years speaks volumes of the quality of Cedic’s. I had to find out what happened to it. Thanks to all those who contributed or commented on this article, it brought back so many memories.

  13. On June 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm Si Cantwell wrote:

    I used to enjoy eating there myself. When I was growing up in Charlotte, N.C., there was a fish-and-chips place called Arthur Treacher’s. It was also delicious, very similar to Cedric’s. Love that light batter on the fish!

  14. On June 21, 2015 at 9:45 am Bart Allen wrote:

    I remember going there in the early 70’s with my family, and it’s the first time i had tried (or even heard of “Malt Vinegar”!) Oh how we enjoyed that! And the tea, strong and super sweet! (true Southern Style) I don’t know where to find anything close to that taste these days.

  15. On July 12, 2016 at 12:51 pm Mary G Connor wrote:

    My husband and I were wishing we had someplace to buy something like Cedric’s. The Harp on Carolina Beach Rd is pretty good, but Cedric’s was better.

  16. On September 28, 2016 at 12:28 pm David Leapard wrote:

    In the mid-70’s I held the position of Director of Training & Public Relations in the Corporate Office of Cedric’s, Inc. The chain was based in Columbia, S C and experienced a much too rapid growth spurt between 1973 and 1977. During that time it grew from 21 stores to 125 stores and was on its way to dominating the Fish & Chips market.

    The Wilmington store was originally a franchise owned and operated by the boss’ son-in-law. After the chain went out of business some of the franchise stores like the one in Wilmington continued to operate. Today I am a university business professor and learned a lot about how not to run a business from that company.

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