A Seat at the Table with Evelyn J. Frazier

Founded in 1936 and operating for almost five decades, Evelyn J. Frazier's restaurant was one of the few in Atlanta willing to challenge the social taboo of blacks and whites dining together under a single roof.

By Discover Atlanta

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The Story of Evelyn J. Frazier

by Karcheik Sims-Alvarado

Evelyn J. Frazier, Frazier’s Cafe Society by Discover AtlantaDiscover Atlanta

Evelyn J. Frazier

Evelyn J. Frazier was the embodiment of Atlanta’s food scene. She defied oppression, focusing instead  on progress and being results driven. In 1936, Evelyn Jones and her sister opened Evelyn Jones Cafe at 880 West Hunter St. (now Martin Luther King Jr. Drive)

Frazier's Cafe Society Gathering by Discover AtlantaDiscover Atlanta

Frazier's Cafe Society

In the mid ‘40s, she and her husband, Luther Frazier, expanded it and renamed it Frazier’s Cafe Society. Evelyn J. Frazier’s restaurant was one of the few restaurants in the city willing to challenge the social taboo of blacks and whites dining together under a single roof. 

Frazier's Cafe Society Menu by Discover AtlantaDiscover Atlanta

Menu for Change

The dedication she exhibited in every intentional action answers the questions: What does it mean to cook? What does it mean to serve everyone? Evelyn Frazier didn’t just provide a space in her restaurants for conversations about revolution, her restaurant acted as the revolution. The menu provided a cuisine that was so forward thinking for its time that you can still find these dishes in restaurants today.

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Service

Evelyn’s insistence that “her people” have the same right to eat in the type of establishments as their white counterparts was the revolution. White tablecloth service, distinct dining rooms and eloquent execution was the norm for Frazier’s Cafe Society. The very nature of Frazier’s life was reflected in how she served her guests. Color lines were blurred. The conversation centered on how one could be of service.

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Locally-Sourced Food

With a 40-acre farm, Evelyn J. Frazier grew all the ingredients she needed to provide for her restaurant and to serve the larger community with fresh local produce and meat.

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Resistance

Frazier’s Cafe Society operated as a living example of food sovereignty. This was done as an act of resistance, a defiant and self-governing action of sustainability. She was able to keep her prices affordable for the clientele she served while remaining autonomous in her refusal to cooperate with a system of oppression.

Evelyn J. Frazier Portrait by Discover AtlantaDiscover Atlanta

Crusader

Evelyn Frazier carried this efficacious confidence in every crusade that became her focus. The forefront of her work was equality not only for African Americans, but also for women of color. Frazier founded as many organizations for women as there are items on her menu. She was determined to give women a seat at the table.

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Evelyn Frazier's Story and Legacy

Frazier’s Cafe Society closed in 1981 but her legacy can be experienced by enjoying her signature Icebox Lemon pie recipe or by visiting one or both iconic restaurants that also served the Civil Rights Movement and are still open today – Busy Bee’s Cafe and Paschal’s. For more information about Evelyn J. Frazier you can visit the archives at Auburn Avenue Research Library.

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