Photo: Mike Jordan, The Boombox; Rommel Demano, Getty Images
50 years is a long time, especially in the restaurant business. That’s how long Bankhead Seafood’s doors were open, before owner Helen Brown Harden closed the restaurant without giving the community any warning, in 2018: no one had a clue. According to Harden, Bankhead Seafood was the longest-running business in Bankhead and certainly the longest-running Black owned business. Now Bankhead Seafood is making a comeback, thanks to two very famous locals who grew up on Helen’s recipes.
Harden’s parents helped her build the business but her health was declining and she noticed, increasingly, her customers weren’t getting the level of service they deserved. “I felt like I wasn’t doing my customers a good service when they wait a little longer than they used to,” she told 11Alive of Atlanta. Since her kids weren’t interested in taking over, she felt she had no choice but to close up shop, for good. Things took a turn earlier this year, however, when Clifford “Tip” Harris Jr. and Mike Render (also known as Killer Mike) teamed up to invest and re-open Bankhead Seafood.
What many didn’t know was that Tip and Mike, respectively, already owned several properties in the neighborhood and the pair had discussed buying the business. “We’ve been around the world, we’ve had a lot of fun, but essentially we’re two kids from the Westside. We grew up seeing Black ownership in our community, and we felt like if the city was going to develop, we should have some ownership stake,” Render told WSB-TV. Bankhead Seafood was famous for its fried fish and a small selection of side items, as well. Going forward, the plan is for Bankhead Seafood to be a fully functioning restaurant, complete with a liquor license.
Ahead of the restaurant’s re-launch, the pair is launching a Bankhead food truck to highlight the restaurant’s expanded menu and also, to show local kids what a Black owned business looks like. Some entertainers pass out turkeys in the hood and others never see it. Some, however, actively invest in it and they are treasures. Buy the land, together, invest in it and prosper.