Edna Stewart, 2008. Photo by Amy Evans Streeter.
In 2008 Amy Evans Streeter visited Edna Stewart, proprietor of one of the city's iconic soul food establishments, Edna's.
Edna Stewart's parents were sharecroppers in Covington, Tennessee, until they moved to Chicago in 1936. Edna was born two years later. As a young woman, Edna went to nursing school. But in 1966 Edna's father, Samuel Mitchell Sr., decided that he wanted to go into the restaurant business. All he needed was a cook. So Edna and her then-husband went into business with her father and opened Edna's Restaurant. Edna learned to cook from her Tennessee-born mother so her menu was soul food, pure and simple. She fed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Jesse Jackson. The restaurant survived the 1968 riots. Yet, it nearly didn't survive its owner's passing. Shortly after Edna Stewart died in June of 2010, her landmark restaurant closed its doors. But thanks to her longtime manager/chef and one of her former produce suppliers, Edna's reopened as Ruby's less than a year later. Little besides the name is different at this West Side institution.
This is a special Chicago Eats edition of Okracast.
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