2-alarm fire destroys Black Pearl Restaurant in Treme; known for feeding the people who didn’t have enough.
May 9, 2019/
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…
A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures.
After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings.
I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life.
I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain.
I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages.
Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him.
Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways.
I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans.
I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating.
I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...