Thursday, September 8, 2011

Soul food disappearing in Chicago as blacks leave

This AP article (recieved from a reader) starts off talking about Josephine's (the former Captain Hardtimes) in addition to mentioning other city soul food restaurants that have since closed. Then they talk about why those restaurants that do survive are having a hard time:
But places like Josephine's — located in a sagging building off a busy commercial stretch— may number only a half dozen now, having gradually given way to fast food, healthy food and imports like Cajun cuisine, along with the pressures of a bad economy. Also, more middleclass residents are moving to the suburbs, some retirees are heading "home" to the South and others are pursuing the economic lures of the Sunbelt, reversing the historic wave that brought southern blacks pouring into Chicago for jobs in industry.

The Chatham neighborhood on the South Side shows the change. The rows of once-classy homes in the black middle class neighborhood, including a brick cottage that was home to gospel legend Mahalia Jackson, are now pocked with boarded up windows and vacant properties. Other traditionally black neighborhoods have suffered even more as the population loss and foreclosure crisis have left behind weed filled lots.
It was mentioned by candidate Richard Wooten for 6th ward Alderman (in 2011) that Chatham is a "restaurant desert".

What can be done about these trends of population decline and to bring restaurants into our communities?

1 comment:

  1. Here is my email response to the writer. She missed it terribly.

    I read your article and disagree with your premise why these restaurants failed and are failing. Yes, African Americans are moving out of the city but there are still Soul Food restaurants still open and operating, maybe not at the levels they once were, but still surviving. Why you mentioned Glady's is beyond me because it has been closed for almost 10 years and the owners sold it because the real estate was worth more than the business and the new owners could not figure out how to market to African Americans.

    With the Chatham restaurants, the bottom line has and continues to be bad service and bad food. This has been the primary reason both customers and other restaurant professionals have pointed out.. The "Mel's Diner" attitude has simply worn on people along with skyrocketing prices for what is perceived as low quality food. Also, the management at these restaurants have made poor decisions. When a national TV show asked to come in and offer assistance and you turn it down, I'm left with no choice but to ask the proverbial Dr. Phil question and not seek out assistance from the local culinary schools again show management's attitude toward improving their business. Lastly, more attention has been placed on diet in our community. One of the largest meat distributors, Moo and Oink is looking at possible liquidation because African Americans in the city are eating less pork.

    It pains me to see these restaurants close or be on the brink of closure but many community leaders attempted to speak with these owners about changing and they rebuked their comments, but as a resident of Chatham I'm tired of everyone blaming us on the failure of these establishments. We still have African American owned restaurants in Chatham and surrounding area who have listened to their customers and will survive.

    Here are some links to post where we have discussed this issue.


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