The Fair Deal Café from 1953 until its closing in 2003 was a pillar of the African American community through its iconic soul food and service. The more significant contribution this café had to history was that it was a meeting place for all kinds of people within the community from activists to politicians, the cafe was used as a meeting place and discussion table for everyone inside of the community. It was fondly dubbed the Black City Hall of Omaha during the civil rights era and became known round the midwest for its ability to be both a restaurant and meeting place.
The Fair Deal Café was a staple in
North Omaha’s community for almost 80 years, with its most prominent time under
the ownership of Charlie Hall from 1953 into the late 1990’s. Under the
management of Mr. Hall and his wife the Café became a key foundational place in
North Omaha not only because of fantastic food they served or the manner in
which they served the food but the feeling people got when they entered the restaurant.
It became known as “Omaha’s Black City hall”
because it was a key point during the civil rights era, where activists, politicians
and common people could all come to the same place to enjoy a meal, talk about
the difficulties facing the community and the steps to take action to combat
these difficulties. For this unique place it became known around the Midwest as
a key point to a lot of people especially African Americans, prominent African American
nationally such as Jesse Jackson and others along with local leaders like Ernie
Chambers, Ben Gray along with other city councilmen would go to the café.
The Café closed in 2003 after
changing ownership in the late 1990’s from the Hall family that ran it for over
50 years. The café was in grained into the African American community not just
as place to get food and be around others in the community but as a successful
business ran by fellow African Americans which not Omaha lacked but national
American had very few businesses in predominately African American communities
ran by people in that community. There has been signs of hope for the return of
the café in some capacity over the couple of years. With the demolition of the original
building the land will be used to create the Fair Deal Village Marketplace on
the block, where a grocery store along with 12 smaller businesses will call
home. One of those 12 businesses will be the Fair Deal Café resurgent.
The marketplace is expected to open up in the fall of 2016 providing a grocery
store to a community that has not had one in at least 40 years and also
returning a place of historical significance to the community.