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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Remembering Alex Radicevich

An Old Town in the New World

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Many restaurateurs have stories, but Alex Radicevich's were better than most. A member of the anti-Nazi resistance in Yugoslavia during World War II, he was imprisoned afterward by Marshal Tito's Communist regime. After escaping to Western Europe, Alex, his wife Rada and their children made their way to Milwaukee in 1959. They came here because his parents had already opened the city's first Serbian restaurant, Three Brothers. Alex worked with his parents for many years before finally opening his own restaurant, Old Town (522 W. Lincoln Ave.), in 1971.

Alex Radicevich survived a heart transplant during the last decade, but died this Father's Day, at age 82, surrounded by his family.

Installed in a former bowling alley, Old Town was an Old World acorn planted in the soil of Milwaukee. For many years the waiters wore tuxedos and a band of musicians, usually led by Alex's son Mike, roamed between tables, playing requests. Alex was always concerned with good ingredients, and insisted on buying locally whenever possible in preparing such traditional Serbian dishes as burek, chicken paprikash, goulash and sarma. Alex filled Old Town with paintings and icons by Serbian and expatriate artists. He came across as a soft spoken if determined man of cultivated tastes.

Alex and Rada continued to live in the spacious quarters above Old Town. Rada remains the kitchen manager and chef, while in recent years his daughter Natalia assumed greater responsibility for operating the restaurant. Regular customers became members of an extended family for whom Old Town was home away from home. Hopefully, Alex's legacy will continue.

Alex Radicevich's funeral will be held at 1 p.m., Monday, June 27 at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral.