Hall’s Cafeteria in Butchertown is a vestige of the mid-to-late 20th century in America, but soon it will be gone.
The cafeteria-style restaurant, at 1301 Story Ave., will close for good on Dec. 23.
“We’re a dying breed. That’s for sure,” said Pamela Hall, who runs Hall’s Cafeteria with six other family members, all in their 70s.
Cafeteria-style restaurants were a popular lunch choice among the working class when Hall’s Cafeteria first opened in the 1950s, and they continued to do well in subsequent decades.
However, those type of restaurants eventually started dying out (think Blue Boar Cafeteria, Jay’s Cafeteria, Colonnade Cafeteria and Miller’s Cafeteria).
Customers have switched their lunchtime preference to fast-food and quick-service restaurants, Hall said. “I guess that’s why they are dying out.”
Hall’s Cafeteria is one of the last remaining cafeteria-style restaurants in and around downtown Louisville. The basement level of the National City Tower still has one called Cravings.
Hall told Insider Louisville that the Butchertown cafeteria was still doing well, drawing lawyers from downtown, employees at JBS Swift Pork Co. and nearby shoppers through its doors. Hall’s Cafeteria also had a robust catering business that accounted for about 50 percent of the restaurant’s income, she said.
But the owners couldn’t find anyone to take over the business, and they were all getting too old to work 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day, Hall said.
“It’s seven days a week; we just don’t get any time off,” she said. “We really hate to leave this area, to leave Butchertown without a good home-cooking place, but like I said, it is time to bow out.”
So, the Hall family is closing the restaurant and plans to sell the property to the developer Andy Blieden. Tyler Smith, executive vice president of PRG Commercial Property Advisors, is represent the Hall family.
Blieden confirmed that he’s in negotiations to buy the property and hopes to close the deal by the end of the month. He declined to comment on his future plans for the building, but undoubtedly it will become part of his continuing efforts to revitalize Butchertown.
Blieden owns Butchertown Market, home to multiple retail businesses, and about a year and a half ago, he started redeveloping several properties along Main, Washington and Wenzel streets for his Butcherblock project. The project turned dilapidated and vacant buildings into businesses including Pho Ba Luu, Stag + Doe, Hi-Five Doughnut and Louabull.
Meanwhile, Hall said she and her fellow owners plan to finally spend more time with their family and their friends.
“We’re just going to slow down a little bit,” she said.