Famous Cafeteria

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The Famous Cafeteria was a restaurant located at 1713–1715 4th Avenue North from the late 1920s to the 1950s. The white owners, Daniel Belyeu and Roscoe Chandler, advertised that, "It was our idea in the beginning to give to the Colored People of Birmingham an up-to-date Cafeteria where one could go and choose a wholesome, well-balanced meal from all fresh home cooked food. A place where one could fee free to take his sweetheart, sister or wife, knowing they were to dine in a place of absolute comfort and an environment free of molestation. A place that the public would appreciate."

The business's safe was found broken open on the morning of March 2, 1931, with $191 missing.

Chandler was sole owner of the cafeteria by 1932. During the mid-1930s, the cafeteria pledged that it was cooperating with the spirit of the National Recovery Act by shortening hours, raising wages and employing more people without raising prices or lowering the quality of its food and service. At that time it offered sandwiches for 5¢, plate lunches for 10¢, and a fried chicken plate for 15¢.

In 1945 the 25-foot by 40-foot cafeteria building was acquired by an investor who hired T. C. Windham & Son to add 100 feet to the depth of the structure. The Famous Cafeteria signed a new 5-year lease for the enlarged space.

Another burglary attempt in 1952 failed as the perpetrator was unable to open the safe using a meat saw and cleaver he found in the restaurant. The restaurant also suffered a failed safecracking attempt in March 1953.

In July 1955 Chandler died. That September the building, then housing the New Famous Cafeteria alongside the Swank Drug & Amusement Co., was one of three business properties acquired by James Wylie, St Clair County rancher and president of the Wylie Farm & Mercantile Co., for investment purposes. The seller was jeweler Nelson Brackin.

On March 25, 1956 cashier Alvis Kuhn shot a non-paying customer in the back after escorting him out of the restaurant. He was charged with murder.


  • "Famous Cafeteria Loses $191 To Robbers." (March 2, 1931) The Birmingham News, p. 2
  • Boles, W. J. (April 1, 1945) "City's Building Upward; New Work Contracted." The Birmingham News, p. B-7
  • "Burglar discovers meat saw, cleaver poor safe tools." (December 3, 1952) The Birmingham News, p. 18
  • "Big real estate deals here run into six figures." (September 29, 1955) The Birmingham News, p. 1