Benedict's Restaurant

Benedict’s Restaurant

Once located at 554 South Fourth Street in downtown Louisville, Benedict’s restaurant in Louisville is the setting for much of Chapter IV, “Mary Ware’s Promised Land,” in “The Little Colonel Maid of Honor,”published in 1906:

“As he led the way out to the street and hailed a passing car, he explained why Lloyd had not come in to meet them, adding, "Your train was two hours late, so I telephoned out to Mrs. Sherman that we would have lunch in town. I'll take you around to Benedict's."

Mary had never eaten in a restaurant before, so it was with an inward dread that she might betray the fact that she followed Joyce and Rob to a side-table spread for three. In her anxiety to do the right thing she watched her sister like a hawk, copying every motion, till they here safely launched on the first course of their lunch. Then she relaxed her watchfulness long enough to take a full breath and look at some of the people to whom Rob had bowed as they entered.

She wanted to ask the name of the lady in black at the opposite table. The little girl with her attracted her interest so that she could hardly eat. She was about her own age and she had such lovely long curls and such big dark eyes. To Mary, whose besetting sin was a love of pretty clothes, the picture hat the other girl wore was irresistible. She could not keep her admiring glances away from it, and she wished with all her heart she had one like, it. Presently Joyce noticed it too, and asked the very question Mary had been longing to ask.

"That is Mrs. Walton, the General's wife, you know," answered Rob. "and her youngest daughter, Elise. You'll probably see all three of the girls while you're at The Locusts, for they're living in the Valley now and are great friends of Lloyd and Betty."

"Oh, I know all about them," answered Joyce, "for Allison and Kitty go to Warwick Hall, and Lloyd and Betty fill their letters with their sayings and doings."  Mary stole another glance at the lady in black. So this was an aunt of the two little knights of Kentucky, and the mother of the " Little Captain whose name had been in all the papers as the youngest commissioned officer in the entire army. She would have something to tell Holland in her next letter. He had always been so interested in everything- pertaining to Ranald Walton, and had envied him his military career until he himself had an opportunity to go into the navy.

Presently Mrs. Walton finished her lunch, and on her way out stopped at their table to shake hands with Rob.

"I was sure that this is Joyce Ware and her sister," she exclaimed, cordially, as Rob introduced them. "My girls are so excited over your coming they can hardly wait to meet you. They are having a little house-party themselves, at present, some girls from Lexington and two young army officers, whom I want you to know. Come here, Elise, and meet the Little Colonel's Wild West friends. Oh, we've lived in Arizona too, you know." she added, laughing, "and I've a thousand questions to ask you about our old home. I'm looking forward to a long, cozy toe-to-toe on the subject, every time you come to The Beeches."

After a moment's pleasant conversation she passed on, leaving such an impression of friendly cordiality that Joyce said, impulsively, "She's just dear! She makes you feel as if you'd known her always. Now toe-to-toe, for instance. That's lots more intimate and sociable than tête-à-tête."

"That's what I thought, too," exclaimed Mary. "And isn't it nice, when you come visiting this way, to know everybody's history beforehand! Then just as soon as they appear on the scene you can fit in a background behind them."

It was the first remark Mary had made in Rob's hearing, except an occasional monosyllable in regard to her choice of dishes on the bill of fare, and he turned to look at her with an amused smile, as if he had just waked up to the fact that she was present.

"She's a homely little thing," he thought, "but she looks as if she might grow up to be diverting company. She couldn't be a sister of Joyce's and not be bright'' Then, in order to hear what she might say, he began to ask her questions. She was eating ice-cream. Joyce, who had refused dessert on account of a headache, opened her chatelaine bag to take out an envelope already stamped and addressed.

"If you'll excuse me while you finish your coffee," she said to Rob, "I'll scribble a line to mamma to let her know we've arrived safely. I've dropped notes all along the way, but this is the one she'll be waiting for most anxiously. It will take only a minute."

"Certainly," answered Rob, looking at his watch. "We have over twenty minutes to catch the next trolley out to the Valley. They run every half-hour now, you know. So take your time. It will give me a chance to talk to Mary. She hasn't told me yet what her impressions are of this grand old Commonwealth."

If he had thought his teasing tone would bring the color to her face, it was because he was not as familiar with her background as she was with his. A long apprenticeship under Jack and Holland had made her proof against ordinary banter.

"Well," she began, calmly, mashing the edges of her ice-cream with her spoon to make it melt faster, "so far it is just as I imagined it would be. I've always thought of Kentucky as a place full of colored people and pretty girls and polite men. Of course I've not been anywhere yet but just in this room, and it certainly seems to be swarming with colored waiters. I can't see all over the room without turning around, but the ladies at the tables in front of me and the ones reflected in the mirrors are good-looking and stylish. Those girls you bowed to over there are pretty enough to be Gibson girls, just stepped out of a magazine; and so far --- you are the only man I have met."

"Well," he said after a moment's waiting, "you haven't given me your opinion of me."

There was a quizzical twinkle in his eye, which Mary, intent upon her beloved ice-cream, did not see. Her honest little face was perfectly serious as she replied, "Oh, you, --- you're like Marse Phil and Marse Chan and those men in Thomas Nelson Page's Stories of  'Ole Virginia.'  I love those stories, don't you? Especially the one about 'Meh Lady.' Of course I know that everybody in the South can't be as nice as they are, but whenever I think of Kentucky and Virginia I think of people like that."

Such a broad compliment was more than Rob was prepared for. An embarrassed flush actually crept over his handsome face. Joyce, glancing up, saw it and laughed.

"Mary is as honest as the father of his country himself." she said. " I'll warn you now. She'll always tell exactly what she thinks."

"Now, Joyce," began Mary, indignantly, "you know I don't tell everything I think. I'll admit that I did use to be a chatterbox, when I was little, but even Holland says I'm not, now."

"I didn't mean to call you a chatterbox," explained Joyce. "I was just warning Rob that he must expect perfectly straightforward replies to his questions."

Joyce bent over her letter, and in order to start Mary to talking again, Rob cast about for another topic of conversation.

You wouldn't call those three girls at that last table, Gibson girls, would you? " he asked. " Look at that dark slim one with the red cherries in her hat."

Mary glanced at her critically. "No," she said, slowly. "She is not exactly pretty now, but she's the ugly-duckling kind. She may turn out to be the most beautiful swan of them all. I like that the best of any of Andersen's fairy tales. Don't you?  I used to look at myself in the glass and tell myself that it would be that way with me. That my straight hair and pug nose needn't make any difference; that some day I'd surprise people as the ugly duckling did.  But Jack said, no, I am not the swan hind. That no amount of waiting will make straight hair curly and a curly nose straight. Jack says I'll have my innings when I am an old lady --- that I'll not be pretty till I'm old. Then he says I'll make a beautiful grandmother, like Grandma Ware. He says her face was like a benediction. That's what he wrote to me just before I left home. Of course I'd rather be a beauty than a benediction, any day. But Jack says he laughs best who laughs last, and it's something to look forward to, to know you're going to be nice-looking in your old age when all your friends are wrinkled and faded."

Rob's laugh was so appreciative that Mary felt with a thrill that he was finding her really entertaining. She was sorry that Joyce's letter came to an end just then. Her mother's last warning had been for her to remember on all occasions that she was much younger than Joyce's friends, and they would not expect her to take a grown-up share of their conversation. She had promised earnestly to try to curb her active little tongue, no matter how much she wanted to be chief spokesman, and now, remembering her promise, she relapsed into sudden silence. 

Benedict’s restaurant was in real life a very popular eatery in turn-of-the-century Louisville. In 1906, when “The Little Colonel Maid of Honor,” was published, it was located at 412 S. Fourth Street. The article below, written by Gary Falk for the Louisville Historical League’s  January 2007 issue of their newsletter, “The Archives,” provides excellent information on the restaurant and its founder, Jennie Carter Benedict. Many thanks to Gary Falk for permitting us to reprint the article here:

“Much has been written about Jennie Benedict and her famous restaurant and catering business. This famous Louisville lady was quite versatile and important to this community.

Jennie Carter Benedict was born in Harrods Creek, KY on March 25, 1860. Her family had a wholesale business in molasses and other staples. By the age of six she displayed an affinity for the culinary profession and for catering parties and events. This was the genesis of a career that lasted more than thirty-two years and spanned many cities in the Midwest, especially Louisville and St. Louis.

She first entered business behind her home at Third and Ormsby in 1893 in a kitchen that was built behind the residence. She sent out 500 circulars to friends, offering to “to take orders, from a cup of chocolate to a large reception, sandwiches on short order, cakes large or small, trays and dainty dishes for the invalid.” The business quickly grew.

Her first store and catering enterprise opened on May 1, 1900, along with partners Salome E. Kerr and Charles Scribner at 412 South Fourth Street. In 1911, a new “Benedict’s” restaurant opened at 554 South Fourth Street. It was a beautiful establishment with many amenities, including an elegant soda fountain made from the rocks of Mammoth Cave. The interior equipment “comprised electric and gas lights, electric fans, and all those dainty accessories that are so pleasing and gratifying to the eye.” 65 employees were required to operate the catering and restaurant operation, which included the creation of fine confections, candies and ice cream.

In 1923 she was given an opportunity to move her business to St. Louis where she had catered. As attractive as the proposal was, Jennie was overwhelmed at the response of the citizens of Louisville to remain here. A committee of the retail business association was formed and in an unprecedented move, collectively presented her with a letter saying that “Louisville can ill afford to lose a citizen like you, one who has always been a leader in every civic and social movement and who has always stood for the advancement of its commercial interests. The name of Jennie C. Benedict & Co. has radiated to all parts of our country the name of Louisville.” After careful consideration and quite overwhelmed by the response of local citizen groups, she decided to remain in Louisville and continue to give them the “very best that can be had.”

In 1925 Jennie sold her business for $50,000. It was remodeled into a Spanish theme but continued to bear her name for a number of years. She remained active in her many charities including King’s Daughters Home, the Woman’s Club of Louisville and other organizations. For a time, Miss Benedict acted as editor of the household department of the Courier-Journal.

She retired to her “Dream Acre” in Indianola overlooking the Ohio River on a bluff near Mellwood Avenue. She wrote an autobiography entitled The Road to Dream Acre (Published by the Courier-Journal). Jennie Benedict died on July 24, 1928. She is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery. The Kentucky Historical Society has placed a historic marker for Jennie Benedict at 1830 South Third Street in Louisville.

Jennie is best remembered for her classic recipe for Benedictine sandwich spread. Surprisingly enough, it is not included in her famous book The Blue Ribbon Cook Book published by Louisville’s Standard Printing Company in 1904.


6 ounces cream cheese
Grated pulp of 1 medium, peeled cucumber
1 small grated onion
1 saltspoon salt, or more to taste
Dash of Tabasco
2 or 3 drops green food coloring

  • Mash the cheese with a fork and work in the cucumber, which has been squeezed fairly dry in a napkin. Add onion, Tabasco and salt and enough
  • mayonnaise to make a smooth spread. (Miss Jennie used homemade mayonnaise of lemon juice, olive oil and egg yolks.) Add enough food coloring
  • to give a faint green tinge. This recipe can be varied to taste and can also be made in a blender, a kitchen gadget unknown to Miss Jennie."


The Louisville Courier-Journal, August 12 and 14, 1923, April 22 and October 3, 1924, July 17, 25, 26, 27 and 28, 1928, September 14, 1928, March 14, 1979; The Louisville Times, October 30, 1922, May 20, 1925, August 10 and 14, 1923, July 25 and August 14, 1928, November 13, 1969;

The Louisville Herald-Post, July 17, August 8, 10 and 11, 1923, January 23 and October 24, 1925, July 26, 1928, August 5 and 26, 1928.

 Benedict’s inside photo: The Louisville Times, November 13 1969 (from R.G. Potter/U of L Collection),

Miss Benedict’s photo from Louisville Times, July 25, 1928.

Reference book: Kentucky's Resources and Industries, Louisville p. 75, Railway Publishing Co. (no year), feature on Jennie C. Benedict & Company “High-Grade Caterers”.

 The Encyclopedia of Louisville, The University of Kentucky Press, c. 2001, John Kleberg, editor. pp.85-86, Article on Jennie Carter Benedict written by Laurie A. Bernstein. Kentucky

Historical Society marker database at the website

Recipe: Courier-Journal, March 14, 1979.