Found! An Actual Menu for Davis' White Spot Restaurant



menu courtesy Gene Gill

Regular readers of this blog — you know who you are, because I send you Christmas cards every year — know that I have embarked on a personal crusade to find a verified, authentic, CLEAR photograph of the long-lost Davis' White Spot restaurant. By all accounts, this was an extremely popular establishment, located on Poplar Avenue near present-day Estate, which was well beyond the city limits when it first opened (more about that later), but I've never found a decent image of it.

But my pal Gene Gill, a talented historian who runs the very informative and entertaining website "Historic Memphis," recently turned up an actual menu from this establishment, with the date October 1945 scribbled on the front in pencil, and he's given me permission to post it here. He laments, as do I, that it doesn't include a photo of the place, but hey, it's a start.

Gene has done his own research about Davis' White Spot, and he told me this:

"We've been finding out more about the restaurant overnight. Still no photo. Unfortunately, all relatives of the owners seem to be deceased. The restaurant is listed for the first time in the 1955 Memphis Directory as "Davis White Spot - 5341 Poplar Pike" and is listed the same way up to 1960. Owner Robert Winfield died in 1961. I do know (confirmed) that the restaurant was originally "a Tavern" in a house in the county, owned by Robert Winfield's widowed sister Ruby Davis. Robert managed the Tavern. Ruby died in 1944 and Robert inherited the house. He and his wife Pearl turned it into the restaurant. Pearl died in 1966, I believe. Their only daughter died in 2008 and we've not been able to find any information of siblings."

Okay, did you catch that? Were you paying attention? After all these years, we — or I should say, Gene — has located the source of the restaurant's name: The building was owned by a woman named Ruby Davis.

Now you'll note also that Gene points out the White Spot — and we're still puzzling over that part of the name — first appeared in city directories in 1955. That doesn't mean it actually opened in 1955. The phone books back then didn't list anything beyond the city limits, so they wouldn't have included any business or home that was as far east as 5341 Poplar.

Here's the inside of the menu. Pretty basic fare, really, with some notable exceptions. Appetizers included plain celery (35 cents) or stuffed celery (50 cents). Entrees included several steaks, ravioli, and what must have been a White Spot specialty: chicken livers on toast. Yum! And look — for breakfast, you could even order a chicken-liver omelet. Egads.

But if you wanted dessert, I guess you went elsewhere. Not a single thing on the menu to satisfy your sweet tooth. Not even chocolate-covered chicken livers.

MENU COURTESY GENE GILL AND WWW.HISTORIC-MEMPHIS.COM

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: Inside Memphis Business.  Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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