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Donnell Long Chef at Olde Towne Inn Upper Marlboro picture by  Nikki Kahn The Washington Post
Donnell Long, 41, took over the restaurant’s long-term lease in 2006. Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post

A man they call “Mr. Prince George’s” walks down Main Street in Upper Marlboro, a street that appears stuck in a time warp of store-front lawyers’ offices, bail bondsmen shops and parking meters that still accept nickels.

He swings open the door of the Olde Towne Inn restaurant, a squat white building. The chef greets him, and Howard Stone, Mr. Prince George’s, takes a seat in a red-wine leather booth and orders pecan-crusted trout and sautéed spinach.

“This is the place to be in Prince George’s,” says Stone, who explains that not so long ago much of the conversation overheard in the restaurant would have been about keeping people like him out.

“The first black judge in the county had to come to the back door of the restaurant,” Stone says, pointing over the booth and to the kitchen. “They sold slaves right up the street,” he says pointing in the opposite direction where, behind a house, there remains a stone auction block upon which black people were displayed.

Long after Prince George’s became the most affluent majority black county in the country, the Olde Towne Inn remained one of the few places where some blacks said they felt unwelcome.

“And now, here is a black man that has transformed a restaurant that used to be an all-white watering hole into a cosmopolitan restaurant,” says Stone of owner Donnell Long.

This restaurant with its Tiffany chandeliers, exposed brick walls and top-notch chef, turning out crab-stuffed salmon, pulled pork sandwiches, waffles and chicken, was segregated until after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act against discrimination in public accommodations and remained unofficially so long after. Now it is a multiracial destination owned by a black chef with his own story of transformation.


Source: Washington Post

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