When 1100 people come to any one corner for any one purpose, somebody has given them SOMETHING to come for.
So said the Call & Post about the opening day at Whitmore’s Dream Barbecue at 8318 Cedar Avenue in 1952. But Virgil Whitmore Sr., a native of Dangerfield, Texas, was no newcomer to the barbecue business. In fact, his reputation preceded him as he eyed this new venture. Almost a decade earlier, at the age of 36, he had opened Mt. Pleasant Barbecue at 12725 Kinsman Road. Then, in 1948, he had opened a second location at 8510 Cedar Avenue that had grown so popular he needed a larger, more modern space in the area, leading him to open his “dream” restaurant two blocks to the west.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Virgil Whitmore kept expanding the family business. In 1959, he expanded to four locations, adding restaurants at East 110th and Saint Clair and in Akron. However, Whitmore closed these newer locations to open another location at 17405 Harvard Avenue in 1963, amid the rise of the Lee-Harvard neighborhood as one of the city’s newest magnets for the Black community.
In 1974 Whitmore moved to Honolulu, Hawai’i, and operated a Whitmore’s there for the next four years. While he was gone, the man he left in charge of the Lee-Harvard outlet was killed in a robbery, leading to that location’s closing. By 1978, Whitmore had returned to Cleveland and opened a new Whitmore’s on Euclid Avenue at Ivanhoe Road in the Collinwood neighborhood.
The Whitmore’s chain ultimately employed many family members at additional locations that opened in later years.
- Display Ad 25 – No Title. Call & Post. August 7, 1948.
- Display Ad 26 – No Title. Call & Post. October 18, 1952.
- “Virgil Whitmore Dies.” Call & Post. April 14, 1983.
- Wade, James W. “A family cook-out that has lasted 60 years.” Call & Post. February 24, 2010.
- “Whitmore’s ‘Dream’ Livens Cedar-83rd.” Call & Post. October 25, 1952.