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Morrison's Cafeterias was a chain of cafeteria-style restaurants, located in the Southeastern United States with a concentration of locations in Georgia and Florida. Generally found in shopping malls, Morrison's primary competition was Piccadilly Cafeterias. It was particularly popular in Florida, with its high proportion of retirees. At its peak, the company was synonymous with good southern cooking and operated 151 restaurants under the Morrison's name in 13 states.
The company began as a single cafeteria opened in 1920 in Mobile, Alabama by J. A. Morrison. Morrison helped develop the cafeteria dining concept, which was unique at the time and would later become synonymous with the southern United States. More than 100 food items were prepared "homemade" daily. By 1950 the company had expanded to Montgomery, Birmingham, Shreveport, New Orleans, Savannah, Columbus, Daytona, Lakeland, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Jacksonville, Orlando, Pensacola, Tallahassee, Tampa, West Palm Beach, and steadily grew throughout the Southeast over the next two decades eventually becoming the nation's largest cafeteria chain. After winning a contract to cater to the cast and crew of the film The Greatest Show on Earth, Morrison's branched out into catering contracts for schools including state universities such as Florida State University in Tallahassee, corporate dining facilities, and hospitals.
An ill-fated attempt to diversify into non-dining businesses in the 1960s was reversed through sell-offs by new management in the early 1980s. In 1982, Morrison's acquired the 15-unit Ruby Tuesday chain, and used this acquisition as the launching pad for several other restaurants concepts such as L&N Seafood Grill, Silver Spoon Café, Mozzarella's, and Tia's Tex-Mex. It also acquired three other food-contract firms. By the mid-1990s, the new restaurant concepts — particularly Ruby Tuesday — were doing far better than the original cafeteria chain. Because of this, Morrison's decided to split the company into three new firms: Morrison's Fresh Cooking, the cafeteria chain; Ruby Tuesday, Inc., which also included the other casual dining concepts; and Morrison Health Care, which took over the food contracts for hospitals (the educational and business contracts had been previously sold to a competitor). Morrison Health Care is now part of Compass Group.
In 1996, Morrison's Fresh Cooking — unable to withstand the loss in popularity of cafeterias in general — sold out to Piccadilly Cafeterias. A large number of the former Morrison's locations outside of Florida and Georgia have since been closed by Piccadilly.
- "Overview". Morrison Healthcare Food Services. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
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