Thick black smoke poured from the windows of the restaurant and an adjacent two-story building near the corner of St. Philip Street and North Claiborne Avenue around 11:30 a.m. Water cascaded off the buildings’ burning roofs as firefighters battled the blaze.
No was in the restaurant; one man was able to escape from the second floor of the building without injury.
Roosevelt Hargett, the owner of Black Pearl Restaurant, stood down the street with his family as the fire destroyed the business he’s owned more than 50 years.
“That’s history right there. It’s a real loss,” Daphne Hargett said of her 85-year-old father’s restaurant known as “The Greasy Spoon.” Many customers came to the restaurant for its “real soul food,” including chitlins, beans, greens, and black-eyed peas, she said.
Black Pearl Restaurant served food to “big and little” customers for years, Daphne Hargett said, explaining that her father rarely turned customers away.
“You have three quarters, no quarters, and he’s going to give them a bag of chicken and cornbread,” she said of her father. “He loved feeding people. That was his life.”
Around 12:30 p.m., the fire was “under control,” officials said. Smoke started to clear and the restaurant’s exposed chimney, which clung to the building’s charred and crumbling second story, became visible.
While the restaurant is listed as closed on some online directories, periodic social media posts from customers show people were still dropping in for meals. One longtime cook and customer, Joseph Mimitte, told WWL-TV on Wednesday, “If you didn’t have enough money, (the owner)’ll give you something to eat and tell you don’t worry about it.”
Another man, Daniel Sterling, told WWL, “We really hope Mr. Roosevelt comes back in time.”
Mr. Ro is a good man. He used the restaurant to fed so many who didn’t have money, and the prices were more than affordable. Plus, the food was delicious, I hope his legacy wasn’t engulfed in flames too. So sad.
It feels like one way or another we are losing Nola African American businesses and property in the Treme neighborhood. Pretty soon we will not recognize the community…