4. Bowman’s

The Chicago Defender, announced the grand opening of Bowman’s an Ultra-Modern Bar and Cocktail Lounge with “popular prices, [the] finest wines and liquors[, and] southern fried chicken.” Bowman’s was the creation of Lawson Bowman, who opened a combination bar/club/lounge/restaurant at 92 St. Nicholas Place (at 155th Street) in June 1941.

Bowman’s served a diverse clientele. “Commuters, politicians, service men, defense workers, theatrical and lots of sports folk” all frequented Bowman’s. In addition, it was the place to “find the young collegiate smart set.” There you would find them having a “jumping good time looking over the pretty girls who frequent the place as well as enjoy[ing] a well prepared meal.”

Bowman and his wife regularly made it in to the Black Press. Whether in relation to his successful establishment, his running for the Mayor of Harlemher fidelity, garnering her the cover of Jet Magazine (or her affairs and involvement in an alleged extortion scheme). Bowman’s highly successful run in Harlem came to a close when the NY Giants moved to California and his Polo Grounds crowd disappeared. After selling his Sugar Hill location, Bowman reopened at a new location, called Bowman’s Showplace, at 111-39 Farmers Boulevard in St. Albans in 1957.

Lawson Bowman and his restaurant have since faded into obscurity, with one exception. In the Jackie Robinson biopic, ’42, Colman Domingo played the role of Lawson Bowman. Bowman and Robinson developed a lasting friendship and a photo of one of Robinson’s first visits to Bowman’s made its way into The Chicago Defender.

Bowman’s had an ad featured in the 1949 edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book.

Next check out Dodger Remnants in Brooklyn.