Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jumbo’s to Close Its Doors - NYTimes.com

Jumbo’s to Close Its Doors - NYTimes.com: MIAMI — While the line of white customers used to snake out the door at Jumbo’s, a 24-hour diner here, black people were served fried shrimp from a takeout window in the back or crammed into a small table in a darkened storage room.

That was the early 1960s, before the restaurant became the soul-food landmark of black Miami, a place where the power brokers came to strike deals, gangsters arrived after dark and the corner table was reserved for older men with names like Chicken George. The fried chicken, Caribbean conch, liver and onions, and other tastes of home have been served up every night for nearly 60 years to celebrities, athletes and locals returning from nightclubs and Sunday church services.

The owners say that Jumbo’s, in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood, was the first white-owned restaurant to employ and serve blacks. Nonetheless, the diner will close its doors for good on Wednesday after enduring years of white flight, riots, hurricanes and a fatal accident when a truck drove through the front window. The closing will end a six-decade run that epitomized the urban core’s struggle against blight and served as a time capsule of changing race relations.