Gospel Great Calvin BridgesRocked Captain Hardtimes on 79th St.
Organizers seek to save Black eatery
By Chinta Strausberg
Josephine’s Cooking Restaurant, aka Captain Hardtimes, rocked 79th Street Sunday as hundreds of people attended her second anniversary Stepper’s Gospel brunch featuring the acclaimed and internationally known Calvin Bridges.
People were dancing by the stage, in the aisles and at their tables as Bridges belted out one hit song after another.
In an effort to help save a black-owned restaurant, owned by Josephine Wade and her son, Victor Love, the event was organized by George Smith aka King George and promoter Cliff Pierce. They are planning a Stepper’s Gospel all you can eat brunch every fourth Sunday at the restaurant located at 436 E. 79th St.
Saying he chose Josephine’s to hold the brunch because several black-owned restaurants have closed coupled with the fact that he grew up in the neighborhood. After meeting Wade and Love, Smith said he wanted to bring his brunch back to the city.
But, it is also a way to help sustain one of the few black-owned soul food restaurants in Chicago. “When I grew up there were black businesses everywhere, and my thing is to bring stuff back to the community. I don’t want to take it to the suburbs or downtown. I want it to be like the time I grew up.”
Wade called the Stepper’s Gospel brunch “spectacular. I am appalled at African American restaurants, businesses and retail because we don’t do services and goods where we sleep and among ourselves. We support every ethnic group other than our own, and we just have a dying community right now and I do not think it has anything to do with crime,” she said.
To those who blame her and other black restaurant owners of not advertising or marketing their eateries, Wade said, “The Original Pancake House never came to my door to dine…but we remember to go. I refuse to do pluggers or flyers because we’ve been here 50-years. Most people know where Captain Hardtimes is.
“Every nationality restaurant is full with African American dining but in our own neighborhoods,” Wade said. Saying she didn’t open up her restaurant to get rich not having a salary in 11-years, Wade said she prides herself on preparing fresh cooked food and nothing from the can “because your intake is a vessel and it works with what you put in it. If you put sales products in it, you’ll come out seeing the doctor.
“I’ve never bought food on sale, and I cook raw cooked to order every day. I hope one day that Blacks could see the economic growth” that lies in the African American community, she stated. “We’ve given $1 trillion industry to people who don’t look like us and that is a lot of money.
“There are businesses that don’t have parking and it is storefront next to storefront and all of them are doing well because white folks will support what’s in their neighborhoods. I want to see people of color support their own (stores) in their communities,” said Wade.