Blue Boar Cafeterias
Blue Boar Cafeterias was a chain of cafeteria-style restaurants based in Louisville, Kentucky. The first Blue Boar was opened in 1931. Once a major presence in metro Louisville, it is still remembered for its old downtown location on Fourth Avenue near Broadway. During the 1930s, Guion (Guyon) Clement Earle (1870–1940) served as advertising manager. He was the brother-in-law of Frank Kennicott Reilly (1863–1932) owner of the Reilly & Lee publishing firm of Chicago. Mr. Earle was well known to the customers of the Blue Boar Restaurant through the witty jottings he created which appeared on the Blue Boar's menus. A decade earlier Mr. Earle had served as the Superintendent of Loveman, Joseph & Loeb in Birmingham, Alabama, where he published a literary review entitled "The Bookworm".
The Blue Boar chain shared common ownership with Britling Cafeterias in Birmingham and Memphis, and B&W Cafeterias in Nashville. Blue Boar was the last of these chains to close. At one point there were 21 open Blue Boar locations in Louisville, Lexington, Memphis, Nashville, Little Rock, and Cleveland.
As with its corporate siblings, Blue Boar was a Louisville institution, best known for its flagship location downtown. Its heyday was the 1930s through the 1950s. The company expanded into suburban locations in the 1960s and 1970s, including a location in "The Mall", now called the Mall St. Matthews, which was the first enclosed shopping mall in the state. (This location later moved to Oxmoor Center, a newer mall just across the Watterson Expressway.)
There was also a Blue Boar cafeteria located on Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland in the 1930s. It is unclear on whether there was any connection between that location and the Louisville company. According to one source, it was patterned after Louisville's Blue Boar.
Facing increased competition from fast food outlets and changing lifestyles, the chain went into decline, and gradually closed down. Many of its locations were located near locally owned department stores, and faltered after those stores closed. In 1995, the chain closed its last remaining location outside of Louisville, in Lexington's Turfland Mall and in Clarksville, Indiana. It also closed its Gardiner Lane Shopping Center store in 1995, which had been open since 1959. After 1995, only four locations remained open. One of the final locations, in a shopping center at the intersection of Eastern Parkway and Preston Highway, closed in 1999.
The last location in the Louisville area, located in the Southland Terrace shopping center, closed in 2003. Unlike Britling, it had stayed with the cafeteria format rather than converting to an all-you-can-eat buffet format.
- Encyclopedia of Louisville; ed. John E. Kleber; p. 98
- Pike, Bill (1999-01-15). "Patrons, workers saddened by closing of Blue Boar on Eastern Parkway". Courier-Journal. pp. 3B.
- Wade, Scott (1995-09-26). "Blue Boar at Gardiner Lane Closes". Courier-Journal. pp. B8.
- After 72 years, Blue Boar name will disappear; Owner switches cafeteria to Gilley's Grill; The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY); July 24, 2003