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What do you know about the old Rex Restaurant across from Hugh MacRae Park?

Jeff Hidek

What is the history of the Rex Restaurant located across from Hugh MacRae Park on Oleander Drive? I remember it from the 1960s because it was one of the few places you could get a pizza to go.

The Rex Restaurant, at 4713 Oleander Drive, opened in the late 1950s, possibly in 1958, according to information contained in Wilmington city directories.

It featured Italian food, along with American food and seafood, years before chain restaurants catering to the universal love for pizza dotted the Wilmington landscape.

The Rex Restaurant closed about 1971.

According to an advertisement contained in the 1963 Wilmington City Directory, the owner was Bruno Marino, Jr.

The Rex Restaurant was “famous for pizza pie,” according to the ad.

Its fare was prepared by “expert cooks” and sold at “moderate prices.”

In addition to takeout, the air-conditioned Rex Restaurant offered dining room service and catering to private parties, the ad noted.

A similar Rex Restaurant was operated by the same family in Morehead City.


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5 Responses to “ What do you know about the old Rex Restaurant across from Hugh MacRae Park?”

  1. On October 15, 2012 at 6:11 pm David Colwell wrote:

    Growing up on Pine Street in the 1950-1960’s, my parents ordered the very first pizza I had ever tasted from the Rex Restaurant. Better than anything you can get in Wilmington today.

  2. On October 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm Richard wrote:

    Rex Restaurant sponsored either an Optimist League or Pony League baseball team; I assume they provided the uniforms too. In Optimist League and/or Pony League (circa 1955 – 1960) I played for Wilmington Gas, Goodyear (but not Goodyear Tires) and Rex Restaurant. I don’t recall what kind of business Goodyear was but am pretty sure it was a local business.

  3. On October 16, 2012 at 3:29 pm Richard wrote:

    Oops — I probably started Optimist League around 1951 or 1952 instead of 1955 and probably finished playing in Pony League around 1956 or 1957.

    I’ll try to be more careful on any future comments I send to myreporter.

  4. On October 21, 2012 at 11:27 pm Billie K Jones wrote:

    My mother owned and operated the Rex for several years after Butch Marino sold it.

  5. On January 27, 2015 at 12:42 pm Gene Henriksen wrote:

    Rex Restaurant bought the building that was formerly Henriksen’s Pharmacy which opened in 1953 then moved to Hanover Center. We lived on Pine Street and I would ride my bike to my Dad’s store after school where I was paid .25/hour to clean up the trash dropped by patrons of the soda fountain. I thought I had gotten a big promotion when I received a broom handle with a nail to pick up the trash instead of bending over. There was, maybe still is, a chocolate colored spot on the ceiling tile on the right side that was made by someone removing a chocolate milk shake from the mixer when someone (not me) mopping the floor hit them in the rear end with the mop handle, milkshake went everywhere. The building was built by Hugh MacRae for my Dad. It was the first air conditioned drug store in Wilmington which prevented some medications from heating up and cracking the glass bottles. We could also sell chocolate candy in the summer because of the a/c.

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