Michael Render (aka Killer Mike) speaks at his alma mater Frederick Douglass High School during his kickoff event for Bankhead Seafood on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Atlanta. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM
Render took to the podium to recount how Bankhead Seafood ended up on his plate.
“I got a call from a friend who asked, ‘Are you interested in buying Bankhead Seafood?’ I immediately said yes,” Render recounted. “I understood what good, decent food meant to a community in which restaurants were leaving, banks had left. And the only thing we seemed to be left with besides this fine high school seemed to be liquor stores and churches. And I say that between getting drunk and getting drunk on Jesus, we gotta eat something.”
The restaurant project is highly personal to Render. While growing up in the Adamsville/Collier Heights neighborhood on Atlanta's northwest side, he and his family ate at Bankhead Seafood nearly every Friday, Render told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview in January. His grandmother visited the restaurant with co-workers for lunch weekly, and he attended Mt. Olive Baptist Church with former Bankhead Seafood owner Helen Brown Harden.
Harden was among the attendees, along with former and current school instructors and administrators as well as some Atlanta City Council members.
>> VIDEO: Killer Mike talks plans to reopen Bankhead Seafood
Killer Mike talks about his plans to reopen Bankhead Seafood with fellow rapper T.I. Westside natives Killer Mike and T.I. are reopening Bankhead Fish and Soul, also known as Bankhead Seafood, next year. “It’s been a part of my life as long as I’ve been on earth,” Killer Mike said. When the eatery suddenly closed in 2018, many Westside residents called on the rappers to save it. By 2019, the pair purchased the business, located at 1651 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy. NW, along with trademarks and recipes. Bank
Render and Harris plan to turn the restaurant into something bigger and better for the community. Beginning this summer, Bankhead Seafood will undergo renovations to transform it into an affordably priced, full-service, 130-seat restaurant with rooftop dining as well as increased parking. It is expected to open in early 2021.
The menu will feature popular Bankhead Seafood recipes as well as newbies, including ones Render dubbed “dope po’boys” and “trap biscuits.” He also noted there would be food items to appeal to vegan and other dietary lifestyles.
Chaka Dakers snaps a photo of Nichola Hines and Scott Fuller with the brand-new Bankhead Seafood food truck during a kickoff event for the business at Frederick Douglass High School on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Atlanta. The food truck is expected to hit Atlanta streets in late March or early April, while the restaurant’s reopening is planned for early 2021. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM
In the meantime, Render and Harris are rolling out a food truck, which was unveiled at the high school. Wrapped in black with yellow and red lettering, the truck advertises fish, shrimp, hush puppies, fries, slaw and pie — and an $8 special of fish and two hush puppies. It is expected to hit Atlanta streets in late March or early April. (Follow the truck on Twitter @bankheadseafood.)
Render did not take the stage just to talk about resurrecting a restaurant. He spoke as a role model for black entrepreneurship, community service and a successful path toward the future.
Directing his comments to students, he said, “We are opening this restaurant because we want you, when you look for a job, not to have to go 20 miles to the mall. We want you to go 10 minutes down the street.”
He also surprised students with an announcement that he and T.I. are working with the HBCU Foundation to set up a college scholarship program. Although details are limited at this time, the funding would be awarded annually to several members of the school’s future graduating classes, enabling them to attend an HBCU on a full ride.
“Twenty years from now, I need you to be opening the restaurant. I need you to be doctors and lawyers,” Render said. “You guys are the greatest resources the community has. You are the foundation of the Collier Heights community.”
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