Dooky Chase's Restaurant

Stop 6 of 8 on the Modern Civil Rights in New Orleans tour

Dooky Chase's Restaurant provided a space for activists to come together over what New Orleanians know best: food.

During the 1950s and 60s, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant provided a safe space for national and local civil rights activist to meet and strategize over a bowl of Leah Chase’s famous Creole Gumbo. Beginning in 1939, as a sandwich shop and lottery outlet on Claiborne Avenue, Emile and Dooky Chase moved their business to their home on Orleans Avenue in 1941. In 1946, newlyweds Edgar “Dooky” Chase Jr. and Leah Chase took over the restaurant and turned the sandwich shop into one of the few upscale establishments available for the city’s African American community to dine and socialize.

Despite state and city ordinances prohibiting most interracial assembly, Edgar and Leah Chase embraced the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement and invited labor and social activists of all races to use their dining room for meetings. Dooky Chase’s Restaurant served as a meeting place for labor leaders during the Godchaux Sugar Refinary strike in 1955, planning sessions for local lunch counter protesters Jerome Smith, Rudy Lombard and Oretha Castle Haley, and as a secret meeting location for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Freedom Bus Riders.

On May 1965, a homemade bomb was thrown out of a moving car towards Dooky Chase’s Restaurant sending metal fragments into the bar and entrance way of the restaurant. Remembering the incident, Leah Chase explains the bomb did not injure anyone and the restaurant only suffered minor damage.

Surviving Hurricanes Betsy and Katrina, Dooky Chase's remains open for business. Visitors to the restaurant can view Leah Chase’s vibrant art collection featuring African American artists.

Video

Leah Chase Interview Clip One
In Clip One, Leah Chase describes segregation in New Orleans. ~ Source: Earl K. Long Library ~ Creator: UNO Mizell-Nelson Digital History Lab ~ Date: 4/26/2017
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Leah Chase Interview Clip Two
Leah Chase talks about local civil rights groups meeting in the upstairs dining room at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant. ~ Source: Earl K. Long Library ~ Creator: UNO Mizell-Nelson Digital History Lab ~ Date: 4/26/2017
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Leah Chase Interview Clip Three
Leah Chase describes how she reacted to hate directed at her and the restaurant. ~ Source: Earl K. Long Library ~ Creator: UNO Mizell-Nelson Digital History Lab ~ Date: 4/26/2017
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Images

Map

2301 Orleans Avenue New Orleans, LA 70119