It has been said that businesses are the life blood of a community. That saying applies to those enterprises that are owned and operated by people living‑in the community in which they do business. Community‑based businesses benefit from a special reciprocal arrangement that evolves and is required for their success. This special arrangement is forged with commitment and the development of trust. It requires that these businesses and their owners participate in the economic, social, and political fabric of the community. There are few businesses today in our communities that fit this lofty credo.
James and Robert Paschal exemplify this rare breed of community based entrepreneurs. Since 1947, they have touched the lives of many citizens and established a living legacy in the Atlanta community by their service and their deeds. This commemorative exhibit was created to tell their story.
A born entrepreneur, James Paschal built and opened his first business, a shoe shine stand, when he was thirteen years old. He also ran a paper route and sold beauty products on weekends. James set a goal to buy a "bigger business". When he was fifteen years old, he used money he had saved to purchase the assets and take over the operations of a failed grocery store across the street from his school. He opened the store every morning before school, and entrusted it to his mother while he attended classes. James returned to work in his store each day after school. Seeing how successful the store had become, the original owners decided to re‑claim the site by taking advantage of the fact that no lease was signed with the original purchase. Undaunted and with a valuable lesson learned, James convinced a local funeral director to help him open a combination meat market, grocery store and entertainment center with arcade machines and a "juke box" called James Place. This new venture, with its unique and inventive blend of products and services, quickly attained success and became a popular meeting place. It had to be sold in its fourth year when James was summoned to serve in the military. James was discharged in 1943. He then worked‑ for two years with the Pullman Company before forming a partnership with his brother Robert. That partnership became Paschal's first food operation.
"I love to work", was a favorite phrase of Robert Paschal. His ceaseless dedication reflected his philosophy that "no matter how well a task is done, it can be done better". Robert came to Atlanta from Thomson, Georgia, on a visit when he was fifteen years old. He started working as a bus boy at Vaughn's Cafeteria, and eventually became the Executive Chef. It was while working as a chef that Robert found his passion. But, not feeling secure that he could earn a decent wage as a chef, Robert took a job setting up fountain operations for Jacobs Pharmacies. He was responsible for training staff and supervising fountain operations until they were operating efficiently and effectively, before moving on to another location. Robert held this position for twenty‑one years, accumulating valuable experience he would later use working with his brother James.
The kitchen is where Robert loved to be. Many times James would convince Robert to take a vacation he had planned for him only to find Robert had returned early to get back to work in his kitchen. Robert Paschal passed away on February 27, 1997.
In February 1947, Paschal's opened a 30‑seat luncheonette at 837 West Hunter, across the street from its present location. James and Robert started selling sandwiches and sodas. As business grew, they expanded the menu and began serving hot lunches. There was no stove at that location and the brothers did not own a car, so hot food was prepared at Robert's home and delivered by taxi.
Later, when the decision was made to serve dinner, it was also decided that fried chicken would be the specialty of the house. The brothers wanted Paschal's to serve the "best" fried chicken in the city. With that mandate, Robert created his secret recipe for Paschal's Fried Chicken. Pascal's Fried Chicken is still considered by many to be among the best served, and Roberts recipe is still a secret.
1950 – 1960
Having outgrown their facilities at 837 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive (formerly West Hunter Street), Paschal's sought more space to accommodate their growing clientele. In 1957 Roswell 0. Sutton, then an Executive Vice President with Citizens Trust Bank, became involved in arranging land acquisition, construction, and permanent financing for a new restaurant and coffee shop to be located across the street at 830 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. Mr. Sutton also assisted in arranging financing for the Paschal's Motor Hotel expansion. After retiring from Citizens Trust Bank, Mr. Sutton joined Paschal's Enterprises in 1978. He currently holds the position of Vice President, Paschal's Concessions, Inc.
In 1959, Paschal's Restaurant & Coffee Shop opened in its new location. The new facilities sat 9o in the coffee shop and up to 125 in the main dining room. This initial expansion was financed with a $75,000 loan from Citizens Trust Bank working with the Atlanta Life Insurance Company. This was one of the largest loans made by the Bank at that time.
Soon after moving to their new location, the brothers started a catering service. The success of this new venture was made evident with the confirmation of an order for more than 5,000 fried chicken dinners soon after opening.
In December 1960, La Carousel Lounge opened. It was considered Atlanta's jazz mecca for more than a decade. The La Carousel Lounge hosted and showcased some of the finest local and nationally recognized jazz artists including, The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, Dizzy Gillespie, the Paul Mitchell Trio and many others.
In 1965, the brothers began acquiring property adjacent to the restaurant to build the Paschal's Motor Hotel. Citizens Trust Bank and the Atlanta Life Insurance Company again agreed to finance construction of the ambitious new hotel with a multi‑million dollar loan. The loan decision was based largely on the record of growth and sound management the brothers had established. This loan was again among the largest made by the bank at that time.
During construction, the brothers convinced the bank to increase the loan amount to build two additional floors.
Paschal's Motor Hotel was being built while several other significant hospitality projects were under development in Atlanta including the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Peachtree Street. Construction persisted through troubling economic times and a five‑month labor strike.
Paschal's Motor Hotel opened in March 1967. The lavish new hotel featured 120 guest rooms, meeting and banquet facilities, and a swimming pool.
Throughout the 1960's, the Paschal brothers were actively involved in the civil rights movement. Paschal's was an important meeting place for key civil rights leaders and strategists, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his aids.
James and Robert Paschal would often post bond for arrested protestors. They would also serve complimentary meals and extend their hours to provide a central location where parents and friends could greet their loved ones after being released from jail.
In a tense racial climate, Paschal's was a place where blacks and whites were welcome to meet and come to terms.
Maynard Jackson served two terms as Mayor of Atlanta, from 1974‑82 and from 1990‑94. Mayor Jackson challenged the status quo by mandating that 30% of all revenue at the proposed new airport go to qualified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) vendors.
In 1978, the city requested bids for retail concessions development and management at the new Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport. Seizing the opportunity, James and Robert Paschal entered into a landmark agreement with Dobbs Houses Inc. to form a joint venture titled the Dobbs‑Paschal Midfield Corporation. The new partners bid on the concessions contract at the airport. This arrangement also satisfied new minority participation requirements, requested by Mayor Jackson, on all airport contracts. The Dobbs‑Paschal Midfield Corporation won the bid and was awarded a 15‑year contract to provide food, beverage, and retail services at the new airport.
Mayor Jackson's insistence on equal opportunities was a first and proved that qualified and well‑managed minority businesses could compete on par with the highest expectations. Atlanta's minority business development programs sparked many similar initiatives around the country and Paschal's exemplified a new breed of fast‑growing minority‑owned businesses.
Atlanta International Airport opened on
1990 – 2014
The 1990's brought many significant changes. In 1996, the year the Centennial Olympic Games was held in Atlanta, Paschal's Motor Hotel was sold to the Atlanta University Center and re‑named the Paschal's Center.
The famous hotel served as a dormitory facility for students. Clark Atlanta University continued to operate the food facilities of Paschal's Restaurant, and Robert's famous fried chicken recipe was a mainstay. Later the University chose to close the facility which remains empty today.
In 1995, when the original contract expired at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, Paschal's entered into a joint venture relationship with Concessions International, Inc., to form Concessions/Paschal's, J.V. This new joint venture won a contract to provide food and beverage services as one of two prime operators at the Airport.
Concessions/Paschal's, J.V. currently operates two Paschal's restaurant locations in Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.
In 2002, James Paschal opened a new restaurant on Northside Drive in Atlanta which continues to serve up history, hospitality and home cooking.
For more than 50 years James and Robert Paschal worked 17‑hour days, 7 days a week to grow their business.
James Paschal died in 2008. James’s son Curtis continues to operate Paschal business interests in several areas including food products and restaurant management.
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