Paschal’s Motor Hotel and Restaurant: Historic Landmark, Atlanta GA

The people mentioned in my Faction Novel, “Red Clay and Roses”, were very real people, from characters in the community, to legendary historical figures.

The locations in the story are very real also, Howard University, Freedman’s Hospital, Charlie Joseph’s Hot Dogs, Trent’s Bicycle, Radio, and Pawn, Behr’s Ladies Apparel, Dorothy’s Diner, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Union Baptist, The Varsity Restaurant, and Paschal’s Motor Hotel and Restaurant with the La Carrousel Lounge.

Today I would like to spotlight the latter:  also known simply as Paschal’s.

The infamous restaurant and motor hotel where Nathan spends a lot of his time.

The infamous restaurant and motor hotel where Nathan spends a lot of his time.

Paschal’s is an American company based in Atlanta, Georgia.

It originated in 1947 with brothers Robert and James Paschal opening Paschal’s Restaurant at 837 West Hunter Street. In 1959 it moved across the street to its next location,[1] where many of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement gathered to discuss their strategy and issues in the 1960s. This included Martin Luther King, Jr.,[2] Andrew YoungHosea WilliamsJohn LewisRalph David AbernathyJoseph LoweryJesse Jackson and others, leading it to be called the “unofficial headquarters” of the movement. In particular, King was rumored to be a fan of Paschal’s vegetable soup.[2] They also served a mean fried chicken, like any good southern restaurant. The restaurant was one of the first to seat black and white patrons together, in an era when segregated seating was the norm.[2]

West Hunter Street was later renamed, and so Paschal’s the new location was at 830 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. This location, including the restaurant and motor lodge, closed and was sold to Clark Atlanta University, where it is called The Paschal Center. Clark Atlanta University inked a deal to sell the historic Paschal’s restaurant — where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders met in the ’60s to plan strategy over fried chicken and collards — to a local developer who planed to restore the famed eatery and the adjoining motor lodge. The motel was used as a dormitory, while the historic restaurant was boarded-up.

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Clark Atlanta bought the property in 1996 from brothers Robert and James Paschal, who opened the restaurant in 1959. They added the popular jazz nightclub La Carrousel Lounge in 1960 and built the adjoining hotel in 1967.

Clark Atlanta finally closed the original restaurant in July 2003, citing $500,000 in losses a year, and announced plans to demolish the complex and replace it with a new dormitory. But a sharp public outcry persuaded the university to instead sell the facility; it continued to house students in the old hotel until 2004.

Paschal's Restaurant

There are currently two Paschal’s Restaurants operating under The Paschal Restaurant GroupLLC: one in Concourse B of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport,[3] and another freestanding one in the Castleberry Hill area along Northside Drive (U.S. 41 and U.S. 29). Paschal’s also provides food service as a vendor at the airport.  Castleberry Inn and Suites is adjacent to the Castleberry Hill location in tradition with the historic Pashal’s.

paschals-header_new5Dinner-Menu-7

Paschal’s Foods also sells some items to local grocery stores, including KrogerPublix, and Harry’s Farmers Market. Like the restaurant, this is primarily Southern cuisine.

Robert Paschal died in 1997. James died in 2008 at Piedmont Hospital, and his funeral was held at the nearby Morehouse College chapel. His significance to the community and the Civil Rights Movement was recognized by a New York Times obituary.[2]

17 thoughts on “Paschal’s Motor Hotel and Restaurant: Historic Landmark, Atlanta GA

  1. I always like when authors make a big deal about “place” in their writings. You do it so well. We don’t actually have to be there to really see Paschal’s. Have you read Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris? I think a sense of place in writing is essential whether it’s Georgia, Pennsylvania, whenever. Right on!

    • Paschal’s was one of the first places in GA that black and white mixed publically. It was also in a big city. Most rural areas they did not mixed and it was even against the law to mingle openly. Segregation was mandatory. While I know we have come a long way, we still have a long way to go. I have a long list of books to read and review right now, and little time to get it done. I will add Dakota to my list.

  2. I like reading about somewhat unknown “landmarks,” places that are significant, but are not well known or iconic. I don’t know very much about Atlanta and the surrounding region, so this was very interesting. Thanks!

    • You are welcome. The place is actually a bit more than run down now. I wish Atlanta did more for historic preservation. There are so many places like this that were important during the Civil Rights movement.

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