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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

Captain Hard Times, Iconic Chatham Restaurant, Asks For Help After Burglary

“Mother Wade has always been there for us. Let’s step up for her.”

Chatham restaurant Josephine's Cooking.
Jen Sabella / Block Club Chicago

CHATHAM — For decades, Captain Hard Times on 79th Street has been a staple in the Chatham community. African American politicians and celebrities looking to connect with South Siders make a point to stop there, and the restaurant’s owner Josephine ”Mother” Wade has helped thousands of people over the years — whether that meant providing a hot meal or a helping hand.

On Tuesday, the iconic restaurant was burglarized, leaving the already cash-strapped business in a terrible financial situation. Copper wiring was taken from the restaurant, forcing employees to cook with flashlights in order to stay open on Wednesday.

My Block, My Hood, My City Founder Jahmal Cole has called for community stakeholders to donate a few dollars to an online fundraiser to ensure the neighborhood landmark stays open after losing more than $10,000 in wiring.

“Too many people have lost the consequences of what it means to steal or even take a life,” Cole said. “Captain Hard Times is a part of a social web. It’s a place where we host block club meetings. It’s a place where movers and shakers meet. It’s a place where you can invite your friends to get a taste of Chatham’s history.”

Located near the northeast corner the corner of 79th & S. Vernon Ave at 436 E. 79th Ave. Captain Hard Times is known not just for its food but also as a historic neighborhood space for gatherings where notable figures in the African American community have visited over the decades. Photos of everyone from Harold Washington to Barack Obama line the walls.

In his GoFundMe post, Cole calls Wade a “beacon of hope for the entire city”.

An employee at Captain Hard Times told Block Club Chicago that they would be closed Thursday as the damage is assessed.

Cole’s My Block, My Hood, My City recently hosted an On The Tablediscussion at Captain Hard Times in partnership with Block Club Chicago and the Chicago Bungalow Association. The dinner united journalists, South Side block club presidents and other community members who discussed the roles block clubs play in communities.

“Stealing from Mother Wade is just not taking from her,” said Cole. “It’s just not taking copper wiring. It’s stealing from the context of what this institution means as well as its future context as well.”

You can help Capt. Hard Times get back on its feet by donating here. Since Cole launched the fundraiser 10 hours ago, more than $1,000 has been raised.

“Mother Wade has always been there for us,” Cole said. “Let’s step up for her.”