Paschal’s Historic Restaurant Then and Now

By:  Oluwatosin Adedayo

ATLANTA – “When you have a place that buries your name, you think about it 24 hours a day seven days a week,” said Curtis Paschal.

The name Paschal brings history to the city of Atlanta. Paschal’s historic restaurant has been around for about 69 years and has been passed down to owner Curtis Paschal. The restaurant closed the original 1947 restaurant and relocated in 2011 in the Castleberry Hills area in Atlanta. Although it has been around for a while, the original restaurant still had a different environment than the new location.

The History

In 1947 a restaurant was built in Atlanta, Ga. during the time period where civil rights became a big focus. Brothers James Paschal and Robert Paschal founded the historic restaurant named Paschal’s. The restaurant first opened on Hunter Street. The place could only hold about 30 people so the brothers decided to open up a bigger location across the street from the original location in 1959. The restaurant also opened on Hunter Street now known as 830 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.

The original 1959 restaurant served many civil rights activist including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Jessie Jackson and more. A year later, the brothers opened La Carousel Lounge located inside of the restaurant where many Famous African-American jazz musicians and artists including Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, and Rasmey Lewis. The building also had a hotel where African-Americans would stay the night or stay to protect themselves from the white people.

In 2011 Paschal’s closed the old location and opened a brand new location on Northside Drive in Atlanta. The building contains dining and banquet halls where people can rent out the halls for weddings and other special events.

Meet The Owner

Curtis Paschal is the son of James Paschal and the nephew of Robert Paschal. He said he remembers the original Paschal’s as a community. “I remember a time when we had a community, a reason, and a purpose,” Paschal said.  “We don’t have that anymore. If you don’t believe me why won’t you ask these 30-year-old men who still has their pants below their waist.”

Paschal said from the time he was 18-years-old until the time he was 31 he lived at the business 24 hours, 7 days a week. He said the Paschal community was not only just a restaurant. The place served as a home to many, security to many African-Americans and they also consulted many customers.

Paschal said he is not to fond of the new Paschal upscale southern cuisine.  He said there is a lot of differences between the original Paschal’s and the current one. “This one is a very pretty face and they serve very pretty elegant food,” he said. “The old Paschal, you had experience. You could have a Ph.D and the local guy can have a conversation with them.  John Cox, Andrew Young, it was always one conversation after another.”

He said he remembers when people actually played music at the La Carousel Lounge. “Now everyone thinks the music they play today is music.” Paschal said. “The new Paschal’s restaurant today, civil right leaders come to just “visit.” They don’t come to strategize, they come because Pascal’s restaurant is a community with its own self,” He said.

Paschal’s was well known for their involvement in the civil right movement. Civil rights leaders used the original location to hold meetings, dine, and to come together to discuss the issues and concerns of African-Americans.

He was also got the chance to meet civil rights leader Dr. King at the age of six.

Ebony Solomon has been working at Paschal’s for two months and said she loves the community of people that comes in and dine. She also said that she enjoys working for an African-American owned restaurant.

“We still get people who said they’ve been eating at Pascal’s since they have been in college,” she said.  “A lot of tourist come just to say that they did it.” Solomon said Pascal’s fried chicken is one of the most popular food item on the menu and one of the main dish people order once they visit. “People just want to try the chicken because that’s what they are known for.” Solomon said that President Obama has visit the new location along with other politicians to see the history of the historic restaurant.

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From left: Oscar Beatty, Curtis Paschal, and Ivan Holsey outside of Pascal’s restaurant.

Long Time Customers

Oscar Beatty is a friend of Curtis Paschal and has experienced the taste of the original and the new Paschal restaurant.  Beatty was a student at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta. He said the original location is a lot different from the location today. “The prior location was more laid back, more of a community atmosphere. He said “The environment is different.”

He said the most memorable thing that he remembers about the original Paschal’s is the the community. “When I come here, I don’t see a community,” Beatty said.

He said the menu before was not like any regular menu, it was way more than any old kind of restaurant.

Ivan Holsey is a friend of Curtis Paschal and Oscar Betty. He came down from Denmark to Atlanta to attend Morehouse College. His first time visiting the restaurant was in 1964.    “This was the only place back people could stay in.” Holsey said.

Holsey’s father would bring him to Atlanta late at night. They would check in at Paschal’s hotel and would stay the night until the next morning to head off to Fort Valley.

Holsey said the ribs and chicken on the menu today has changed from the original restaurant. He said he enjoyed the original restaurant’s food better.

Holsey also said what he enjoyed most about the old restaurant was being able to meet different people. He came to the restaurant after school to dine and to see what African-American celebrities he would see. “It was a place to see black celebrities,” Holsey said. “It was the hot spot.”

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Portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King on the inside of the Paschal’s restaurant.

Paschal’s write their story on their wall on the inside of the restaurant. The restaurant is decorated with pictures from civil rights movements and marches. Paschal’s is one of the few historic restaurants in Atlanta.

 

 

 

 

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