April 3, 2020
Category: Blog Posts
All Are Welcome
In the 1940s, a weary Black traveller had few dining options in Edmonton. Discrimination was still commonplace. Blacks faced institutionalized racism in a number of pernicious forms—many hotels and restaurants refused to accommodate them. One welcoming place in Edmonton for Blacks looking for a meal was Hatti’s Harlem Chicken Inn, opened in 1944. Originally located at 101 Street and 104 Avenue (it later moved to where the Law Courts now reside), Hatti’s Harlem Chicken Inn was the best fried chicken joint in the city. Owner Hatti Melton served up juicy, salty, crackling fried chicken that folks of all skin colours, from near and far, came for.
Edmonton musician Tommy Banks raved about Hatti’s chicken. American Black entertainers Pearl Bailer and Big Miller popped by when performing in Edmonton. Hatti’s was more than a restaurant. It was an important social mainstay of the Black community, a meeting place for the city’s Black population to share news, stories and meet friends. Newly arrived Blacks knew they’d be lovingly greeted by Hatti, and if they were lucky, pick up work in the kitchen. All were welcome. Hatti Melton passed away in 1969 and her daughter ran the restaurants for a few years after until it closed.