For nearly 80 years, Atlanta has had a modern day historical landmark in its midst. A place where heroes of the civil rights movement convened, and where one of America’s greatest Black entrepreneurs created their wealth – Paschal’s Restaurant. The story begins with two brothers – James Paschal and Robert Paschal.
James was the entrepreneur. He started a shoe shine stand, paper route and selling beauty products. He then took his savings and opened a combination meat market/grocery store/entertainment spot he called James Place as a young teenager, but had to close when he was summoned to serve in the military. When he came back home after being discharged, he and his brother began Pascal’s.
Robert Paschal was the chef – he began as a busboy at Vaughn’s Cafeteria, working his way up to Executive Chef. When Robert and his brother came to the realization that fried chicken would be the specialty of the house at Pascal’s, Robert got to work on creating the secret recipe.
As their restaurant grew into success in the 50’s, the brothers found a new, larger location. Soon after, they began a new catering service and after finding success in that business, they moved on to hospitality. In 1967, the brothers opened Paschal’s Motor Hotel. The hotel featured 120 guest rooms, meeting and banquet facilities and a swimming pool. In the 90’s, Clark Atlanta bought the property, which it turned into dorms for some time, and eventually, the City of Atlanta tried to take over in a lawsuit. After multiple losses, the City settled the litigation and agreed to pay Clark Atlanta $750k in legal fees. Now, the two entities are working together to figure out the future of the Paschal’s Motor Hotel building.
In addition to hosting leaders in the civil rights movement at their restaurant and hotel facilities, James and Robert would often post bond for arrested protestors, using their wealth in the Black community to support those fighting for justice. It’s indicative of who these two men were – not just to Atlanta’s Black community, but to the history of Civil Rights in this country. Head to Castleberry Hill where James’ son Curtis continues the family tradition – and secret fried chicken recipe – at Paschals!