Article Image Alt Text

Stephanie Ware, co-owner of The Non-Blonde Cafe, is pictured here sitting in a booth that is located inside the restaurant while holding up one of the menus. Behind Ware are several of the restaurant’s artwork that depicts her love for music. Other artwork shows The Beatles, Kurt Cobain, Prince, and Elvis Presley. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)

From radio to restaurant

Local business owner Stephanie Ware shares her recipe for success on radio and in the restaurant

A recipe for success begins with discovering a person’s passions. That recipe was used by a local business owner, who merged her love for music and her passion for cooking together, to open up a restaurant on the west side of Ville Platte.
“I love the radio,” said Stephanie Ware who, with her business partner Missy Fontenot, owns The Non-Blonde Cafe. “My dad used to say that if I would do my homework and know it as well as I know lyrics to songs then I would be so much better off.”
The cooking part of the equation came from locating some information on her birth parents. Ware, who is adopted, said, “What I learned when I found some information on my birth parents is that my father actually had a diner cafe in Kansas City. I think it is in my blood. My passion is cooking.”
The merger of Ware’s love of radio and passion for cooking came together to form the restaurant, but it all started with a call into a local radio show.
“I started in radio in Lafayette years ago when the red light cameras were put into action,” Ware said. “I was a private investigator at the time and went on an interview on the radio, and the owner of the radio station called from New Orleans and asked if I wanted my own show. It kind of started innocently enough like that and went on from there. It just took off.”
Ware’s first radio show was called Acadiana Uncovered and, as she said, was “part private investigator, part soccer mom, and part Republican.” She added, “It was really funny, but it was very much political. It dealt with a lot of things that the city council, mayor, and politicians were doing. It was two hours every day from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. during drive time, so I had a lot of callers.”
According to Ware, her start in radio came naturally to her. “When I was growing up, my mother used to tell me I talked too much, and people in school used to tell me I talked too much,” she commented. “It turns out that the gift of gab works. I never really had a problem talking in front of people or speaking to a crowd.”
Years passed, and Ware then moved here to Ville Platte over 10 years ago. She was doing other work besides radio and then heard an advertisement for a disc jockey job on the local radio station KVPI. “I went and was hired,” Ware said,” and it continued from there. I loved it and had a great time.”
Ware started out working part-time at the radio station. At the time, Jenn Meylian had a morning radio show with Randy Guillory. “Randy ended up leaving to go do other sports broadcasting, and it left (Jenn) by herself,” Ware said. “She had gone to the station manager and talked to him about doing another show. We came up with different ideas and were jotting down names of shows that we could name it. We finally realized that The 4 Non Blondes and the song ‘What’s Up’ are part our generation, so we named it The Two Non Blondes.”
“It really took off,” Ware continued. “If you judge today’s world or your work by Facebook likes, then it skyrocketed. We did a lot of good marketing. We each had our way with the show. It went very well and was fun. A lot of times we had jokes across town.”
After Meylian left the radio station, the morning show then became The Non-Blonde Cafe. Part of the success of Ware’s solo morning show came from the celebrity interviews. In 2016 alone, she did 116 such interviews. “I have stacks and stacks of books and movies,” Ware said. “Hank Williams’ daughter sent me a whole boxed collection. It was incredible. We had a lot going on at the radio station. We were busting through the seams.”
Ware’s show, in April 2017, earned the recognition of the State of Louisiana as Radio Morning Show of the Year for the first time in the station’s history. “It’s huge,” she expressed about what the award meant for a small market like Ville Platte. “You’re dealing here with KRRV and KSMB and all of these big time conglomerates. There are also the Baton Rouge stations that go all over. I was sitting at the table in Baton Rouge at the awards banquet, and Dave Gracin (from KRRV) was at the next table. He was shocked when they called my name. It was awesome.”
Months later, Ware parted ways with the radio station and sat down on different occasions with a close group of friends to decide what she would do. “One of the jokes when I had the radio show was that people would go into the Chamber of Commerce and ask where was that Non-Blonde Cafe,” she said. “Well, it wasn’t real. It was a radio show. After I sat down forever and a day, I thought about it and said let’s open a restaurant since people wonder where The Non-Blonde Cafe is. And, that’s what we did.”
Everything about the restaurant, that is located on the corner of La. Hwy 10 and U.S. Hwy 167, reflects where Ware came from in radio. “What I decided when we were decorating was that I wanted our place to reflect my radio shows,” she said. “So, there are classic hits all around. There are a lot of highly credible deceased musicians on the wall, and then there is a Classic Country wall which reflects my afternoon AM show.”
Ware continued, “One of the things I like best is that once in a while a dad will come in with his children, and a 12-year-old would say there’s Soundgarden and Chris Cornell. A 12-year-old is not supposed to know about all that, so his parents have raised him right. People also come here and teach their children about The Doors and Janice Joplin and about music’s past.”
Music is also all around the restaurant as it plays on televisions all day long. “We have one TV that is kept on something generic,” Ware stated, “but, on another one, we have concerts playing. There is also a channel that we watch all the time that has big celebrity interviews, and it’s mostly musicians. Aerosmith might be playing on there one day or Led Zeppelin the next. It kind of gives that groovy atmosphere.”
Now with the restaurant, Ware, a New Orleans native, is still making contributions to her adopted community of Evangeline Parish. “When I was at the radio station, I was labeled by some as the cheerleader for Evangeline Parish because I did a lot of trying to pump up the community,” she said. “As news director, I loved the horrible hours going to the school board meetings, and I liked the election coverage. Here, I love knowing someone is full, happy, and on their way.”
She concluded, “It’s just different now, but both radio and the restaurant are very rewarding.”

Evangeline Today

145 Court St.
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Phone: 337-363-3939
Fax: 337-363-2841