“It reminds me of nothing but racism,” said Roderick McNeil, who worked at Ant Fanny’s in the summer of 1959. “It’s an old racist home, and it’s past time to go.”
Lisa Caselberry, who worked there in the 1970s, said that simply walking past the now-vacant building reminded her of a painful time in Smyrna’s history.
“Now that I’ve grown up, I think, ‘Oh man, that was very insulting,’ but it was a job,” said Mrs. Casleberry, 61.
Mrs Castleberry, who is Black, said that although the separation had officially ended while she was working there, she and her family, friends and neighbors had never felt comfortable visiting Aunt Fanny.
Other former employees had fond memories.
“Even if it’s based on slavery times, nobody treats us like slaves, and that’s part of history,” said Joe Ann Trimble, who worked at Ant Fanny’s for 19 years. “I’m going to be 75 this year and I’ve done all sorts of things, and it’s the only job I’ve ever liked.”
Mrs. Trimble supported her children with her salary and tips from Aunt Fanny. His sisters, children, aunts and cousins all worked there at different points. The fact that the restaurant helped many Black Smurfs residents build their lives is enough to save the building, he said, although it does make people uncomfortable.