In the 1960's, parents would load their children into the station wagon and head for the unique Lacombe area restaurant called Odder's Ranch House. Many residents today have fond memories of the family outings that came with taking a drive to the country to see the special attractions it had to offer.
The kids loved the place because of the unusual decor (they had lava lamps!), and the parents loved the place because, after lunch the kids could roam the fenced in grounds and interact with the interesting array of animals that were on hand, the most interesting being the peacocks. The kids loved the adventure of being in the country and seeing the many kinds of animals, including, of course, cats.
It was quite a trip, especially over the newly-built causeway from New Orleans, but Sunday dinners and special occasions were made all the more special by the extra effort. It was apparently a house that had been made into a restaurant, with a long winding driveway.
Owned by Taft E. Odder, the place was on the south side of U.S. 190 between Mandeville and Lacombe, about six miles from the north causeway plaza. In a 1956 article in the Times Picayune it was described as "really a showplace with its beautiful gardens and grounds. The restaurant itself is the ultimate in design and its equipment is the finest."
"A well-equipped bar away from the main dining room offers the finest mixed drinks," the article went on to say. Its motto was “The South’s Most Charming Restaurant.”
One repeat diner remembers that the owners would often come to a table and welcome the guests, and they knew many of their regular customers by name.
Its advertising mentioned that it was located in the "beautiful Ozone Belt, surrounded by an atmosphere of peace and contentment, where the finest food is prepared with taste and served with care.” It also noted that “the short trip to Odder’s will reward you with one of your greatest eating experiences.”
It was listed among the hundred or so restaurants in the Louisiana Restaurant Guide of 1958, as published by the Louisiana Restaurant Association.
The restaurant sat on over seven acres and was big enough to accommodate over 200 customers. There were also two cottages and a storage house in the complex. The interior decor of the restaurant was fascinating, featuring fabrics and fancy lamps not often seen in restaurants.
A traditional Thanksgiving dinner was offered, complete with French Onion Soup, turkey with oyster dressing, cranberry sauce and peas paisan, candied yams, a green salad, along with hot rolls, butter, coffee and dessert. All of that was priced at $3.50. And frogs legs were also on the menu, as well as a variety of Louisiana seafood.
In late 1968 owners had to sell the place because of ill health.
Early in 1969, new management took over. The new owners names were Tony Kent, Charles Parker and Harvey Bingman.
It was not a large establishment, but it was appreciated by the many families looking for a good place to eat, at reasonable prices, in a quiet, serene location among the St. Tammany pine trees. Later in 1969, the name was changed to just The Ranch House.