A Touch of Disney in Black History – Dooky Chase’s Restaurant

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant opened its doors for business in 1941.

Eating at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant has been placed on my bucket list.  This New Orleans restaurant owes it success to Leah Chase and her husband, Edgar “Dooky” Chase II, who was a band leader and jazz trumpeter.  Mr. Chase’s parents owned a street corner stand in Tremé, founded in 1941, that sold lottery tickets and homemade po-boy sandwiches. Mrs. Chase began working in the kitchen at the restaurant during the 1950s, and over time, Leah and Dooky took over the stand and converted it into a sit-down establishment, which became known as Dooky Chase’s Restaurant. Mrs. Chase eventually updated the menu to reflect her own family’s Creole recipes as well as recipes, such as Shrimp Clemenceau.  This dish was available only in whites-only establishments from which she and her patrons were barred. 

In the 1960s, the restaurant became one of the only public places in New Orleans where African Americans could meet and discuss strategies during the civil rights movement. Mr. and Mrs. Chase would host black voter registration campaign organizers, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), black political discussions would be held in the restaurant’s upstairs meeting rooms while Mrs. Chase served them gumbo and fried chicken.  The restaurant had become so popular that even though local officials knew about these “illegal” meetings, the local law enforcement could not stop them or shut the doors because of the risk of public backlash. While there were no black-owned banks in African-American communities during this time period, people would commonly go to Dooky Chase on Fridays, where Mrs. Chase and her husband would cash checks for trusted patrons at the bar.

Here is a previous A Touch of Disney in Black History post featuring Leah Chase.

Elantrice H.

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