Jennie Benedict: Feeding Louisville for Decades
Jennie Benedict was one of Louisville’s most successful restaurateurs. She operated the city’s largest confectionary, catering, and novelty business for many years. Her popular Blue Ribbon Cook Book was printed multiple times, with her potato rolls, seasonal fruit cakes, and plum puddings among the best-loved of her recipes. She is still celebrated for her creation of Benedictine, a spread containing cucumbers and cream cheese.
Benedict launched her business in 1893 in a small kitchen constructed in the backyard of her father’s Old Louisville home. Her earliest ventures included delivering school lunches and selling pulled candy. John Booker, a family servant who assisted her, became a familiar figure on Third Street carting soup, sandwiches, and cakes to schoolchildren. In 1900, Benedict opened a store, Jennie C. Benedict and Company, which featured a lunchroom, candy and favor departments, and a soda fountain modeled after Mammoth Cave. Lunches consisting of soup, two vegetables, meat, and dessert drew capacity crowds.
In 1908, Benedict expanded her business, commissioning a new five-story building in downtown Louisville. It had all the modern amenities: a spacious elevator, modern kitchen, bakery, and an entire floor dedicated as a ball and banquet room. Benedict’s was one of Louisville’s most popular restaurants for many years.