Roscoe Wyche, Jr.
Longtime restaurant owner leaves legacy of compassion
By Nancy Pounds
Alaska Journal of Commerce
Monday, October 14, 2002
The founder of Roscoe's Skyline Restaurant leaves a legacy of
compassion in Anchorage's business community following his death in September.
Roscoe Wyche, Jr.
Roscoe Wyche Jr. was known for
offering fatherly advice to employees or inviting needy people off the street
for soup at the restaurant.
Wyche died Sept. 21 in Anchorage.
He was 67.
"My dad was like everybody's dad,"
said his son Roscoe Wyche III. "Everybody called him Daddy Roscoe."
Future plans are unclear for the
Midtown Anchorage eatery specializing in Southern cooking and barbecue, arguably
the best in the state. Current restaurant owners don't plan to renew their lease
at the Mall at Sears when it expires Dec. 31, according to the younger Wyche.
"I'm going to keep all options
open," he said.
Wyche cited high overhead costs at
the current mall location for the decision.
The city lost one well-known black
businessman who appealed to many Alaskans.
Just over 1 percent of 64,100
Alaska businesses are black-owned, according to U.S. Commerce Department
"White, black, any kind of race,
they all liked him," said restaurant manager Curtis Curry, a longtime family
friend. Curry moved to Alaska from Thomasville, Ga., nearly three years ago to
help run Roscoe's Skyline Restaurant.
Roscoe Wyche Jr. served 26 years in
the military and moved to his last assignment, Elmendorf Air Force Base, in
1977. After retiring from the military, Wyche worked for the state as a
correctional officer at Spring Creek Correctional Facility in Seward.
After he retired from the state
corrections department, Wyche operated a beauty supply store while wife, Annie
Carol Wyche, ran a salon. The Wyches received a business excellence award in
1986 from the Alaska Black Caucus.
In 1988 he started Roscoe's Skyline
Restaurant with his son.
"It was one of my father's dreams
to own a restaurant," Wyche said.
Roscoe's Skyline Restaurant opened
in the mall in 1998 after an arson fire destroyed the original Government Hill
location a year earlier. Although the business was uninsured, community support
and the family's determination helped restart the restaurant, Wyche recalled.
"It's our first love," Annie Carol
Wyche said. "We love that restaurant."
The mall location seats 120 people,
twice the capacity of the first restaurant. Compared to the Government Hill
location, the current site brings in more sales but requires higher rent, Wyche
said. Today, Roscoe's Skyline Restaurant has 25 part-time employees.
The younger Wyche was chosen as a
featured chef for Lawry's Seasoned Salt advertising campaigns in 1996 and 1997,
drawing national attention to the Anchorage restaurant.
Wyche now dishes up his brand of
cooking on the North Slope's Alpine field. He has served as lunch cook for
Arctic Catering Inc. for two years, cooking for 250 people.
The family business has supported
community events from debutante balls to events for the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People.
Such community involvement matched
Roscoe Wyche Jr.'s enthusiasm for people.
"Dad brought a lot of personality
to Roscoe's," Wyche said, remembering how his father greeted customers with a
The biggest lesson father taught
son was: "Treat everybody with respect. Treat them as you want to be treated."
The elder Wyche shopped for
restaurant supplies and often filled in if an employee missed work, said Annie
Carol Wyche, who bakes Roscoe's sweet potato pie and German chocolate cake. She
recalled her husband's witty, outgoing personality. "He always had a smile to
greet customers. They loved him."
Her husband savored the
restaurant's specialties. Almost daily he ate his favorite meal at a preferred
seat: a piece of catfish, a pork rib, a candied sweet potato and French fries
with a dollop of mayonnaise. He added a T-bone steak on his birthday in August.