psychogeographic oral history project

Turner’s Restaurant and Bar (1968-1997)
701 Clouet Street

Hello everyone, my name is Stacy Elizabeth Robinson Towns, and I have the honor of being the granddaughter of Albert and Elizabeth Turner, a couple that is worthy of mention.

This story is about the life and legacy of Elizabeth and her husband, Albert Turner. This beautiful couple owned a property on Clouet Street that was known as Turner's Restaurant and Bar from 1968 to 1997. When they acquired the property in 1968, I was a mere four years. I grew up in the business from the time it was bought throughout my adulthood.

There are many stories that I can tell, but really what has stuck with me throughout my 54 years is that I was raised in a loving, giving, close-knit family. My grandmother was one of 16 children. There were eight boys and eight girls. They were all born and raised in Mississippi. All of them had a mere fourth grade education.

I attended St. Vincent DePaul Catholic school, which was around the corner from the restaurant and the bar and everyone knew the kindness of my grandparents. They believed in treating people right. They enjoyed taking care of the community. It didn't matter what the color of your skin was; people were people to them.

But during this time there was a lot of racial hatred and divide. Both of my grandparents saw a lot of that. And unfortunately, when they came to Louisiana that didn't change the narrative. They also saw that same racial divide and hatred there as well.

The fact that they were able to purchase multiple pieces of property in a neighborhood that was primarily Caucasian and very close to the French quarter was truly a blessing and a great achievement for our family. Throughout that time that they resided on Clouet Street, they were subjected to racial epithets, racial injustices, and just racial acts of violence because they were a Black family. They owned a business in a white neighborhood. Many of the people in the neighborhood were jealous of their success or just plain ignorant. No, they weren't rich, but they were thriving. And in that thriving, they were also giving back to the community.

Two years into my grandparents owning the business, my grandfather, Albert, with whom my brother is named after, was murdered in cold blood by two of the neighbors that lived directly across the street from the business. To this day, I can visualize that home that sat on that corner, diagonal from our business. They had taunted them from the time they had the building and things just escalated.

On the evening that my grandfather was killed, I was in the restaurant. Unfortunately, I witnessed the entire scene. And what most don't know is I'm here today because my grandfather shielded me from the bullets that he took.

My grandfather's murderers were never arrested. My grandmother, her daughter, Jessie, who is my mother, my brother Albert, and myself, we continued to move forward because my grandmother being the person that she was, a strong, bold, Black woman, told us, "We will not give up and we're going to be okay."

The bar and restaurant continued to grow. The meals continued to fill the bellies of many. Their legacy continued to grow beyond the ignorance of the neighborhood. It was still there for the community and anyone that walked through those doors.

My grandparents memories and what they believed in are embodied in the brick and mortar at 701 Clouet Street, for many in the city and many that have left this Earth, but none as memorable as the ones that I will forever have in my heart, mind, and soul.

Stacey Robinson Towns inside The Tigermen Den, formerly known as Turner’s Restaurant and Bar, 2021
(photo by Sarrah Danziger)

Albert & Elizabeth Turner
Courtesy of Stacey Robinson Towns

Stacey Towns with her mother, Jesse, and her grandparents Albert and Elizabeth Turner
Courtesy of Stacey Robinson Towns