Upscale restaurant in historic O'Fallon mansion is for sale

News-DemocratSeptember 23, 2013 

A 19th Century mansion in O'Fallon with historical landmark designation and an operating fine dining establishment inside could be yours.

Paulo Pacheco is selling the building and its contents so he can move back to Massachusetts to be closer to family. The life-long restaurant worker remembers when he first came to the metro-east seven years ago to look at buying a different building to establish an restaurant when he heard about the mansion.

"We stopped here to look at a bed and breakfast," Pacheco said. "That was going to be the restaurant. We got here and it just didn't pan out. There was too much restoration. So on the way back, we heard about this mansion. It had been abandoned for about seven years."

Pacheco opened Paulo's at the Mansion about a year later in June 2007. The upscale restaurant serves Portuguese cuisine for evening dining from Tuesday through Saturday. Pacheco, who was born in Portugal and raised in Fall River, Mass., wanted to provide the best seafood, steaks and other dishes within a historic and unique dining atmosphere.

The building is on the far east side of town at 1680 Mansion Way, off Lakepointe Centre Drive. The house was built in 1857 by A.J. Wastfield. Every brick used to build the mansion was made on site and mined from the ground, where a man-made lake in front of the house exists today. Wastfield who was born in an area that is now within the O'Fallon city limits.

His father Walter Wastfield was a native of Bath, England, and his mother Mary Ann Shannon was born in Ireland. The family lived in the mansion for years. A succession of other families also called the mansion home.

In 1963, the house received a St. Clair County Landmark Award from the St. Clair County Historical Society.

By the time Pacheco visited the building in 2006, the house had last been used as a restaurant called The Mansion at Lakepointe Restaurant and was in need of renovation.

"Everything was overgrown," he said. "But I peeked in the windows and I could see that all it needed was love and attention. On the outside there were so many broken windows. When I first turned the water on, the basement totally flooded out. But I made an offer to the guy, and he accepted, and a year later we opened up."

The building had been abandoned for about seven years when Pacheco bought it and took almost a year to restore. The floors are hardwood and the walls are solid brick and have been painted as close to its original colors. Furniture and other decor that resembled the 1850s were brought in to furnish and decorate the historic house. Cast iron pieces atop every window and door were also restored.

"It has beautiful architecture that we were able to restore," he said. "We were even able to restore a couple of the original chandeliers. We pieced them back together from the pieces that we found in the house. We found them in pieces everywhere and we actually threaded them all back together."

The rooms on the first floor have been converted to dining space and are named after members of Pacheco's family. The chandeliers hang in Rebecca's Room and Irene's Room at the front of the restaurant. Connie's Room is where the mansion's original dining room was, and Betty's Room is actually the former front porch that was converted to a small two-table room at the front of the restaurant. Jerry's Room is a bar and dining area that was added to the back of the mansion. The building also has two kitchens that were later additions.

Pacheco spent his life in dining rooms and kitchens, working his way up from waiting tables and bartending to be a general manager and finally an owner. He estimates he has worked at about a dozen different restaurants.

Now, he wants to move back to be close to his family in New England.

"I want to sell because my mom is old, my dad just had open-heart surgery and had a valve replacement and now he can't get around as much," he said. "We don't want to put him in a home. I have sisters and brothers there that can help, but I want to do my share, too."

Terry Johnson's firm is marketing the property for $690,000. Johnson, the president of Johnson Properties Inc. in Fairview Heights, said the business would be a "turn key" operation as all of the equipment and furnishings are part of the sale.

"Our price includes building, the equipment and the business," Johnson said. "It is a great opportunity for someone to come keep the same business."

Johnson also said the restaurant thrived with no advertising and became a known destination for upscale dining in the metro-east.

"Their advertising has been almost 100 percent by word of mouth," Johnson said. "If you ask some of the more prominent people in the community where one of the nicest places in the area is, they always mention the mansion."

Despite putting his business up for sale, Pacheco is pressing forward with plans to expand lunchtime dining. The lunch menu will by rolled out sometime next month and will feature dishes inspired by the food he grew up enjoying in Massachusetts.

"We want to bring in a New England flare," he said. "We don't want to do what everybody's lunch is here. We want to do lobster rolls, clam strips, clam cakes and chowders. I wanted to include some of my favorites here."

He does not plan to close the mansion. He said he will maintain his business until it is sold.

"We want to continue pushing forward with our plans," he said. "Nothing will stop. We're already a successful and a profitable business."

He won't take his business with him, but he thinks about recreating it somewhere else someday.

"I don't know what my future plans are there. I might open Paulo's, again."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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