About UsMix Business With Pleasure,
Season With Love,
Stir in Corn,
Serve Daily With a Smile
Dow Sherwood was a beloved man of extraordinary charity, civic spirit, humor, honor and vision. He was a devout Catholic who looked for the good side of everything.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Chicago, remarkably Dow Sherwood failed his first year of high school as one of 5 children of a motor coach executive. He worked in a garage before entering the Navy during World War II, becoming a chief warrant officer. After the war, he opened a welding shop financed by money his wife, Mary, had saved. The business struggled at first, partly due to Dow's lack of business training. He took a Dale Carnegie sales training course to learn how to deal with people. His business soon began to prosper. In 1953, his business expanded to include an engine repair shop.
In 1955, Dow Sherwood moved his family to Florida, fulfilling a lifelong dream. He opened a welding and engine repair business in the Tampa area. Although the business succeeded, it wasn't enough for this little man of a great drive and new ambition.
Even though Dow Sherwood knew nothing about the restaurant business at the time, he answered an ad and purchased a Village Inn Pancake House franchise from the Denver parent company and he was on his way to the great and contributing life he made in Tampa.
Mr. Sherwood opened his first Village Inn in 1961 on Dale Mabry in Tampa. It became his hangout. It also became the breakfast place for Tampa business people and politicians, for tourists, for the Cincinnati Reds, and for New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who loved the pancakes and maple syrup, and felt that way about Sherwood too.
A few years after the Dale Mabry Village Inn opening, Mr. Sherwood met Colonel Sanders' daughter on a plane and eventually acquired the KFC franchise in the Daytona Beach area. The KFC Division was eventually sold in January 2007.
He opened a dinner theater, the Showboat, in Pinellas Park in 1967 after seeing a Wall Street Journal ad and touring east coast theatres. He gave away opening night proceeds to charity. The dinner theater business proved to be volatile and the Showboat ceased operations in the early 1990's.
On Friday, August 14, 1987, Dow Sherwood died at the age of 78.
Ended was a 2-year health struggle beginning with aneurysms that he appeared to overcome, before complications began to steal away a memory that was so important to him in business, and in conversation with family and friends. The loss made it difficult for him to repeat the corny little jokes that he knew all had heard. He told them anyway.
"You want to see my Pride and Joy? Sherwood had asked thousands of times. He would then flip over a card everyone assumed was a photograph. It wasn't. It was a picture of Pride and Joy soap products. He would follow by asking "Isn't that fantastic?", while flipping over a picture of the spray cleaner Fantastik
"Ask him and you got it," said great friend Art Pepin.
"Nothing will be the same anymore."
"As fine a man as I have ever known", said close friend George Steinbrenner. "As charitable a man as I have ever known. The loss can't be measured." Dow would have smiled as Steinbrenner emotionally delivered an impressive eulogy recalling happy memories about the joy of knowing such a fine man and community servant.
Anyone who knew Dow Sherwood, especially those who worked in his company, are well aware of the legacy he left behind. His humanitarian ideals and the genuine atmosphere of compassion and fairness he cultivated still exist in his company today.
Mr. Sherwood would be proud of all the company employees who work so hard on a daily basis to provide the level of hospitality he continually strived to provide to his guests. The employees of Dow Sherwood Corporation today would truly be his "Pride and Joy".
Dow F. Sherwood
Acknowledgements• Man of Vision
Society for the Prevention of Blindness - National Conference of Christians and Jews
• Citizen of the Year
Tampa Sports Awards Banquet - February 1986
Excerpts from articles of the St. Petersburg Times, 1/9/83 and from Tom McEwen's Tampa Tribune obituary were used to compile this story.