To mark Black History Month in the United States which is from February 1 to February 28, Face2Face Africa will be highlighting popular eateries/restaurants that are etched in black history and the roles their owners played to make them havens for African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement and even before.
On today’s instalment, we spotlight Paschal’s, located in Atlanta, Georgia. The restaurant is historically known for its fingerlicking home-away-from-home soul food dishes including its signature fried chicken, sweet potato pie, peach cobbler, collard greens and cornbread. Till date, the restaurant still serves these specials.
Founded in 1947 by brothers James and Robert Paschal, the eatery modestly began as a luncheonette serving sandwiches and sodas, later on adding lunch to their menu. Without any stove, the meals were prepared at Robert’s home and transported to the eatery via a taxi as none of them owned a car.
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As the business grew, the brothers moved to a bigger place and started serving dinner with fried chicken being their signature dish. Robert’s secret recipe for Paschal’s Fried Chicken, which is still used at the restaurant to date, made it one of the most sought after and delicious chicken meals in Atlanta.
Besides being successful restaurateurs, the Paschal brothers were also staunch civil rights activists and the restaurant is famously known for being the unofficial meeting place for iconic civil rights leaders and personalities including Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
At Paschal’s, MLK and his confidantes planned and strategized their activities and next lines of action before and after civil rights protests and engagements.
Other notable personalities who frequented the restaurant during those times include John Lewis, Joseph Lowery, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Stokely Carmichael, Ralph Abernathy, Julian Bond, Fannie Lou Hamer, Maynard H. Jackson, among others.
The brothers occasionally posted bond for protesters who were arrested and served them free meals. They also kept the restaurant open after normal working hours for released protestors to meet their family and friends.
In 1997, the brothers were honored when the Atlanta City Council renamed a street Paschal Boulevard.
Robert passed away on February 27, 1997, and James passed away on November 28, 2008.
The restaurant is currently located in the Castleberry Hill Arts District in downtown Atlanta.