Extremely sad news today with The Times-Picayune reporting that Edgar Dooky Chase Jr., famed New Orleans musician and cofounder of Treme dining landmark Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, has passed away at the age of 88.
Chase made a name for himself as a musician with his 1940s-era big band Dooky Chase Orchestra, and actually met his wife Leah Chase while playing a gig at a Mardi Gras Ball. The couple went on to turn his family’s Treme-based bar and sandwich shop into a restaurant renowned as much for the incredible gumbo as its historic significance in the Civil Rights Movement. Per Todd Price:
In an upstairs room, the Chases allowed black and white civil rights activists to eat and plan, in violation of the law. The Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., James Meredith and Thurgood Marshall all passed through the doors on Orleans Avenue.
Many notable African American musicians and celebrities have dined at Dooky Chase Restaurant from Lena Horne to Ray Charles. President Barack Obama dined at the restaurant in 2008 and 2009. Just this year, Dooky Chase Restaurant was honored by the food world as Leah Chase received the James Beard Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award 2016.