John Holcomb Jr

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John Hudson Holcomb Jr (born April 14, 1915 in Dublin, Georgia - died August 24, 2009) was a long-time owner of the Britling Cafeteria chain in Birmingham.

Holcomb, son of John Holcomb Sr and Lillian Chambliss Holcomb came to Birmingham with his family as a boy. He attended Lakeview Elementary School and graduated from Phillips High School in 1931. He went on to complete a bachelor of science in chemical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in 1935. Three years later he married Frances Kinne and began working for the Swann Chemical Company.

Soon later Holcomb took a job with Merck and Company in Rahway, New Jersey. He was reassigned to the company's Elkton, Virginia pharmaceuticals plant during World War II. After the war he returned to Birmingham to help his father operate the family's cafeteria chain. He eventually became president of the company and ran it until his retirement in 1978. He continued the tradition his father started of opening the company's flagship downtown restaurant on Christmas morning to serve a free breakfast to the hungry. He and his five children reported for duty each year to help prepare and serve the meal.

Holcomb was known for his service to the community. He was active in the Salvation Army, which presented him with its William Booth Award, and at Mountain Brook Baptist Church, where he was honored as a life deacon. He also helped in the formation of the Brooke Hill School, Second Harvest food bank and other organizations. After his retirement, Holcomb continued to pursue his passion for fly fishing. He spent his final years at Kirkwood by the River and died in August 2009.

He was survived by his five children, John III, Elisabeth, Barbara, Susan and Mary Scott, and by twelve grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.


  • "John Hudson Holcomb, Jr" obituary (August 26, 2009) Birmingham News
  • Hubbard, Russell (August 25, 2009) "Cafeteria owner who served Christmas breakfast to needy in Birmingham, Alabama dies." Birmingham News