Sholl's Colonial Cafeteria

Sholl's Colonial Cafeteria, a twentieth-century Washington, D.C. cafeteria-style restaurant that was famous for its popularity among tourists and government workers. The restaurant served everyone from United States presidents to the homeless. It closed its doors on December 1, 2001.


At its height, the restaurant had become a chain with eight locations, but for its last decades the restaurant's only location was at 1990 K Street N.W., with its entrance on 19th Street N.W. Often, charter buses would be outside, picking up or letting off groups of high school students from around the country.


The first location opened in 1928 by Evan A. Sholl. Sholl was an entrepreneur from rural Pennsylvania whose businesses included farms, a dairy, an ice cream factory, and real estate. Opening his chain of cafeterias helped the growing numbers of government workers in the late1920s and 1930s who were short on time and lunch options.

George and Van Fleishell were the last owners and managers of Sholl's. George Fleishell was Evan Sholl's nephew through Evan's wife Gertrude and grew up working for Sholl's as a child. Returning from his service in World War II, George worked for Sholl's until the day it closed.

At its height, Sholl's served 10 people a minute, 2 million a year. At one point there were 8 locations in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. The final location at 1990 K Street NW closed its doors on December 1, 2001.

Cooking style

Sholl's was famous for its home-style cooking and low prices. The restaurant served basic American cafeteria and lunchroom standards such as pies, puddings, fried chicken, etc.


Customers included tourists, the homeless, diplomats,
lobbyists, lawyers, bureaucrats and bankers. Presidents Harry Truman, Richard Nixon,and Jimmy Carter all patronized the restaurant.

While Vice President, Truman stopped in for breakfast on his way to the White House from his Connecticut Avenue apartment.

Billionaire H. L. Hunt had Sholl's famous rhubarb pies flown in to his home in Texas.

A large portion of Sholl's business came from school groups on their annual trip to the nation's capital.

Racial integration

From at least the 1940s and throughout the period of the fight for racial integration, Sholl's took a stand against racial segregation and served African Americans.

Sholl's employees included immigrants from Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia.


At Sholl's, any member of the clergy, regardless of his or her religion, was served a free meal. Featured at every table were prayer cards that suggested grace— Catholic, Jewish, or Protestant—before meals.

Charity work

Sholl's took part in programs to feed the homeless. Michael Kirwin, a D.C. advocate for the homeless, wrote in "The Washington Post" of the generosity of Sholl's management. Years before, Kirwin had given $5,000 to feed homeless patrons. "Somehow that $5,000 check never seemed to run out," Kirwan recalled. "The stories I've heard from people on the streets, their quiet moments of dignity, respect, warmth and a full and nourishing meal at the hands of this wonderful cafeteria could fill a book of essays."



* [ "A Fight For Honesty, Purity, and Veal," Ben A. Franklin, The New York Times, May 18, 1984]
* [ "Serving Up More Than Just a Hot Meal," Cindy J. Roth, The GW Hatchet, December 11, 2000]
* [ "Sholl's Last Supper: A Truly Civic-minded Business Closes Its Doors," John H. Fund, The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2001]
* [ "Sholl's Cafeteria Closes Doors: Eatery Looks For New Location, Kate Stepan and Drew Wiseman, GW Hatchet, December 10, 2001]

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