Archived: Texas Restaurant Defends 'Coon Chicken Inn' Blackface Caricature Sign

A neon sign from a 1920s restaurant called the “Coon Chicken Inn” contains a caricature of a Black man, with the name of the restaurant in his mouth. In 2017, the owners of Cook’s Garage, a restaurant in predominantly white Lubbock, Texas, think it’s appropriate to hang the racist sign in their establishment and call it “Americana History.”

A person attending a company Christmas party at the restaurant, which opened in April, noticed the sign, took photos and posted them on Facebook, and Facebook users slammed the owners of Cook’s Garage. The names of the owners are not mentioned on its website.

They defended the sign in a post on Thursday:

“We did not put this sign up to be derogatory, racist or to offend anyone. This is part of Americana History just like everything else hung in our collection and buildings,” the post said, according to KCBD.

“Aunt Jemima, mammies, and lots of other Black collectibles are highly sought after, as is Americana collectibles with white characters. The Coon Chicken Inn was an actual restaurant started in the ’20s.

“Again, we want to stress we do not intend to offend anyone, and are only preserving a part of history that should remind us all of the senselessness of racial prejudice.”

The post, which has since been deleted, also contained images of the sign, as well as other signs they have collected, which are all hanging on the walls of the restaurant, according to the news channel.

The owners of Cook’s Garage have not replied to requests from media for interviews.

The Coon Chicken Inn was a restaurant chain from the 1920s-1950s founded by Maxon Lester Graham in Salt Lake City, later opening locations in Seattle and Portland.

The entrances were sculptures created to look like one was walking into a smiling blackface caricature of a Black porter with a large head and exaggerated features including large lips.

Menu items included southern fried “Coon Chicken” sandwiches, chicken pie and livers, and Blacks were used as cooks and wait staff, according to Ferris State University’s Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. Items on display at the Coon Chicken Inn restaurants are up for auction on the Black memorabilia market.

A resident of Lubbock, Jasmine Abdullah, told KLBK that she saw the Facebook post of Cook’s Garage’s Coon Chicken sign on a friend of a friend’s page.

“If you want to put a piece of American history or African American history up, there are tons of people you can have hanging up in your restaurant. Not something derogatory,” Abdullah said.

Social media users are continuing to call the sign racist and encouraging owners to take down the sign.

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