The Transylvania Times -

By Marcy Thompson
Picturing The Past 

Gaither's Was Brevard's Longest Operating Restaurant


February 20, 2017

Jimmy Gaither, second from left, and his staff at his Broad Street restaurant in 1951. Berry Gaither is on the far right.

Since the early 1900s, downtown Brevard has been home to numerous cafes and restaurants. The earliest mention of a local restaurant found in the Sylvan Valley News is for Jim Aiken's Restaurant and Bakery. Aiken was a prominent African-American businessman, with a general store on Main Street in Brevard. In 1903 Aiken added on to his store and began serving lunch. It apparently was particularly popular during court week.

Other early restaurant operators included A.B. Benjamin, G.F. Chapel, Ed Flack, Chester Gallamore and Spurgeon Osborne.

Osborne owned the Royal Lunch Room, which later became the Royal Café operated by H.C. Aiken. By mid-century, dining options included the Casino Grill and Billiard Parlor on North Caldwell, the Chicken Kitchen on North Broad, the Coffee Shop and Stroller's Inn on East Main, and Galloway's and Gaither's on South Broad.

Gaither's was by far the longest operating of Bre-vard's downtown restaurants. Jimmy Gaither had been in the food service business in Statesville, Franklin and Sylva. When Ecusta opened he saw an opportunity and opened the first "modern" restaurant in Brevard in 1940. It grew to include cafeteria-style service on the main level, with banquet space in the Rhododendron and Dog-wood Rooms on the second floor.

Gaither also operated a food service for Brevard College for a couple of years and for Brevard Music Center for several years. He ran the Toxaway House at Lake Toxaway in the 1960s.

In addition, he operated a burger place, provided food service at the bowling alley and owned a miniature golf course. Gaither's downtown location closed in 1977.

Berry's Restaurant on the Asheville Highway, where Wendy's is today, was owned and operated by Jimmy Gaither's brother Berry. The brothers had worked together until Berry decided to open his own place on the new four-lane highway on the outskirts of Brevard in 1959. For many years the restaurant was open from 5 a.m. until 1 a.m. to feed Ecusta shift workers.

Berry Gaither at Berry's Restaurant on the Asheville Highway.

After Berry's death in 1978, his son, Rodney, ran the restaurant and they began closing at 10 p.m. Berry's closed in 1994.

Picturing the Past will continue looking inside more former businesses next week.

(Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs.

For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at or (828) 884-3151 ext. 242.)


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