- S&W Cafeteria
Infobox Defunct Company
company_name = S&W Cafeteria
fate = ?
foundation = 1920
defunct = 1990's
Charlotte, North Carolina
industry = Restaurant Chain
Frank Odell Sherrill, founder
products = Southern Food
S&W Cafeteria was a
Charlotte, North Carolina-based chain of cafeteriastyle restaurants. The chain specialized in low-cost, southern style cookery. Branch locations were located in the Southeastern United States from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta, Georgia.
The company was organized in 1920, by
Frank Odell Sherrilland Fred Weber who had served as mess sergeants together in World War I. [Historic Asheville S&W Update, by Mark Barnett, "Asheville Citizen Times", May 29, 2007.] The operation originated at Ivey'sdepartment store. Its initial restaurant was located at 100 W. Trade Street in downtown Charlotte. By 1934, when the first Washington, D.C.location opened, cafeteria were located in Atlanta, Georgia; Asheville, Charlotte, and Raleigh, North Carolina; Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee; and Roanoke, Virginia. By the early 1950's, locations had opened at Greensboro, North Carolinaand at Pittman Plaza, in Lynchburg, Virginia. Many of these locations were designed by noted Charlotte-based architect Martin Evans Boyers. [ [http://dlib.uncc.edu/special_collections/manuscripts/html/94.php Finding aid to Martin Evans Boyers Papers, 1910-1993; University of North Carolina Charlotte, Manuscript Collection 94 (retrieved Sep 6, 2008)] .]
The original cafeterias were located in busy downtown areas, often located near bustling theater and shopping areas. The early locations were quite opulent (designed in
Art Decostyle) and were the site of numerous local business and political gatherings. During the 1960's-1970's, as suburban shopping centers opened and downtowns declined, S&W followed the trend by closing their downtown locations. In 1964, 16 locations were in operation. ["New S&W Cafeteria," "The Washington Post, Times Herald", Sep 20, 1964, p. C12.] Into the 1990's, the mainstay clientele were the elderly who appreciated the home style meals at low prices.
The first Washington, D.C area location opened downtown in 1934; a 27,000 square foot restaurant in the Washington Building, 1425 G Street, NW at New York Avenue. ["Entire Floor is Leased by Restaurant," "The Washington Post", May 20, 1934, p. R3.] It was a regular stop for southern congressman, including Sen.
Richard Russell(D-GA) and Sen. Clyde Hoey(D-NC). During World War II, the cafeteria served up to 9,000 daily. Because of a severe drop in night trade, it closed in May 1964. ["S&W, Famed Downtown Eatery, Closing for Lack of Night Trade," "The Washington Post, Times Herald", May 8, 1964, p. R3.]
Suburban locations operated at
Seven Corners Shopping Center, opening in 1956; Landmark Shopping Center, opening in 1964; and a 21,5000 square foot restaurant at Washington Science Center in Rockville, Maryland, opening in 1966. A racial ban at the Seven Corners location was lifted in August 1961, after an African official (the mayor of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanganyika) was refused service and the State Department intervened with a call to S&W owner Frank Sherrill. ["Racial Ban Dropped by Cafeteria," "The Washington Post, Times Herald", Aug 17, 1961, p. A3.] This location closed in 1976, when the center upgraded. Its closing spurred protests from longtime patrons, largely elderly, 1,000 of whom relied daily on the cafeteria for low-cost meals. ["S&W Cafeteria Closing Sparks Protest at Mall," "The Washington Post", Dec 25, 1976, p. R3.] The location reopened in 1980, at 155 Hillwood Ave., in nearby Falls Church; a new $650,000, 13,000 square foot restuarant seating 400. ["After 4 Years, S&W is Back," "The Washington Post", Dec 4, 1980, p. C1.] The Falls Church location operated into the 1990's. The Landmark location featured 30 foot long, 22 foot high murals and crystal chandeliers, closed in 1986. ["A Landmark is Closing," "The Washington Post", Dec 25, 1986, p. VAE1.]
Asheville, North Carolina
The downtown Asheville location opened at 60 Patton Avenue in 1929, and closed in 1974. It is in the
Art Decostyle and was designed by architect Douglas Ellington. In 2007, Steve Moberg purchased and renovated the building and the restaurant S&W Steak and Wine and coffee shop Corner House currently operates at that location. [ [http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/jun/08/back-in-business-asheville-eatery/ "BACK IN BUSINESS: Asheville eatery reopens with period touches," by Mark Barrett, "Asheville Citizen-Times", Jun 8, 2008] .] [ [http://swsteakandwine.com/index.php?page=history-of-s-w S&W Steak and Wine website (retrieved Sep 6, 2008)] .]
Charlotte, North Carolina
The original S&W operated at 100 W. Trade Street in downtown by Charlotte from 1920 until 1970; it was razed in the mid-1980's. Three suburban Charlotte locations operated at Park Road Shopping Center (in 1958, closed ca. 1980), at
Charlottetown Mall(in 1959, closed ca. 1980), and at Freedom Village Mallin the 1960's (closed January 1983). [ [http://charlotteeats.blogspot.com/2008/02/s-w-cafeteria-hall-of-fame-eatery.html "Charlotte Eats" Blog; includes photographs of original Charlotte location, Ashville landmark branch, and other Charlotte-area locations (retrieved Sep 6, 2008)] .]
The downtown S&W opened in 1936, and operated at 516-518 South Gay Street, until the early 1980's. It is a 2-story Art Deco building with a glazed terra cotta exterior and an opulent interior. The area is part of an historic district being actively preserved by Knoxville Heritage, Inc. In August 2007, the neighboring Downtown Regal Riviera opened and is stimulating redevelopment of the neighboring properties. [ [http://www.knoxheritage.org/500history.htm Knoxville Heritage Inc., History of the 500 Block (retrieved Sep 6, 2008)] .] [ [http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=62895 "First year a blockbuster for Downtown Regal Riviera ," WBIR.com (retrieved Sep 6, 2008)] .]
The original S&W operated at 412 S. Jefferson Street. In 1964, that location closed and has since been occupied by
Davidson'smens store. That store recently underwent a $2 million renovation. The downtown location moved to 16 Church Avenue, SW, in the former Greyhound Bus Terminal. The new two-story location featured art deco appointments and breakfast made-to-order for the early downtown crowd. It closed in the 1970s. This location is now the Downtown Sports Club. [ [http://www.roanoke.com/entertainment/food/wb/39785 "Tearful goodbye for the S&S Cafeteria," By Larry Bly, "The Roanoke Times", Nov 08, 2005.] ] [ [http://www.roanoke.com/business/wb/177467 "Jefferson Street tries for a comeback," "The Roanoke Times", Sep 21, 2008.] ]
* [http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=B0&Date=20080528&Category=NEWS01&ArtNo=528009&Ref=PH&Params=Itemnr=1 Photo Essay "S&W Reopens as Restaurants," "Asheville Citizen-Times", May 28, 2008 (retrieved Sep 6, 2008)] .
* [http://cmdc.knoxlib.org/cdm4/results.php?CISOOP1=any&CISOFIELD1=CISOSEARCHALL&CISOROOT=/p265301coll7&CISOBOX1=W&CISOSORT=title%7Cr Knox County Public Library - Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection - Knoxville S&W Cafeteria photographs (retrieved Sep 6, 2008)] .
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.