Wendell Lee Smith was born in 1912 in Helena, Alabama to parents Lester C and Helena Mae Lee Smith. The Smith's had 5 children, three daughters and two sons. His brother Lavertte was also a West Nashville business man that owned a Liquor store and drive in market on Centennial blvd about a mile away from Wendell's Corner. Big Wendell was involved in the Episcopal Church and St Lukes Community Center which is still located in the neighborhood. Some schools he attended were Cockrill Elementary and MBA for a short time. He was a veteran of WW II in the Navy Medical Corps. He married Jesseylea Edney and had two daughters, Beverly Ann and Linda Dellwen, and one son, Wendell Jr "Inkie".Wendell's mother and father were in the grocery business as was Wendell until he opened Wendell Smith's corner in 1952. Beverly married Jakie D Cook and he went to work in the family liquor store in 1958 to cover for the employees vacation time and then turned in to full time. Big Wendell passed in 1967 and in 1969 Mrs Smith positioned Jakie as manager in the restaurant. Jakie then really got the meatn3/soulfood cranking from then on which is still what Wendell's is known for today along with their great breakfast, sandwiches and salads.. In the early 1980s Mrs Smith died and in the mid 80s Wendell Jr sold his interest in the family business and moved to East TN. Jakie and Beverly purchased the liquor store and restaurant. Son, Benji, joined the team in 1992 to enter the third generation into the mix and is the owner along with his two sisters, Jill and Leigh Ann. Benji has the fourth generation busing tables and pearl diving (dish washing) in the summers. Business is better than ever and we hope to keep it rolling for at least another 60 years.
Some people call it a diner but we just call it an ole restaurant. Established in a blue collar neighborhood in the early 1950s and we are 20 plus years into the 3rd generation of the family with the 4th in training now on the dishmachine and bussing tables. Somedays we see 500 customers a day which some are 2 a dayers. In the past year we have seen many great changes in the hood but we still have that wonderful customer base that carried us thru all the years and the new so called hipsters that are moving in are a great addition to the clientele we see daily in our little melting pot.
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