Jerome (Jerry) Lederer (1901-1963) was a former guest of the Historic Gatlinburg Inn. Kentuckian Lederer entered the restaurant business in Shelbyville, Kentucky in 1929. He established a chain of hamburger stands under the name White Tavern (inspired by the chain known as White Castle).
World War II wiped out 10 of his 13 restaurants, however, due to shortages. He reorganized in 1946 and founded a new company named after himself, Jerrico Inc.
Jerrico became one of the first restaurant chains with a franchise concept. The restaurants were similar to the Big Boy restaurants. He hired a young man named Warren Rosenthal in 1948, and Rosenthal later became a partner and ultimately president of Jerrico after Lederer died in 1963. The enterprise continued to thrive thereafter.
There were 41 Jerry’s Restaurants at the time of Lederer’s death; Rosenthal grew the company to 78 restaurants. In 1969, the Long John Silver’s chain was founded, and continues to thrive, presently having over 1,000 stores. He also later founded the Fazoli’s chain. These restaurants were all an outgrowth of Jerry Lederer and his White Taverns.
You can still see an occasional Jerry’s Restaurant around, but they have become rare. Many of the Jerry’s Restaurants were converted into Denny’s Restaurants following a 1990 sale to Great American Restaurants, the company that operated Denny’s. There are still around a dozen Jerry’s, now called Jerry’s J-Boy Restaurants.
When you see one on the roadside now, it is like going back in time. One of the busiest and most successful is still located in Paris, Kentucky, a few miles outside of Lexington on US 68, which has been open since 1961.
In Kentucky, and various places in the Midwest in the 1960s and 1970s, Jerry’s was a friendly and familiar sight for the traveling public. You knew they would have that good spaghetti or a Champ plate, and perhaps a slice of strawberry pie if you had saved room for dessert.
We are proud that during the peak of his business career, Jerry Lederer stayed at the Historic Gatlinburg Inn in his travels to Gatlinburg.
Book your stay today, and you may just find yourself lying down in the same room as any number of business and entertainment legends who have stayed here over the years.