|Location||301 East Gonzalez Street|
The H&O Restaurant (also known as the H&O Cafe) is a historic restaurant in the Eastside neighborhood, located at 301 East Gonzalez Street, at the corner of Hayne Street. One of the first black-owned restaurants in the Pensacola area, the H&O serves Southern-style soul food.
Its origins go back to the 1920s, when Hamp Lee and his brother opened a grocery and pool hall in a building on Gonzalez Street. They named the businesses H&O by combining the first letters of their wives' names, "Hattie and Ola." (Another explanation is that it stands for "Hamp and Ola.") The location was popular among the pre-integration black community. In 1942, Givens Grier purchased the building and opened the restaurant. Grier's brother, Raymond Grier Sr., bought the café in 1957. When he passed away in 2001, his wife Dorothy took over operations.
Over the years the restaurant has served a number of celebrity patrons, including civil rights activist Rosa Parks, Senator Bob Graham, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, boxing promoter Don King and local champion boxer Roy Jones, Jr.
On July 18, 2007, the building was temporarily closed by a fire that started around 9:45 a.m. when a pot of lima beans boiled over and ignited cooking grease. (A similar fire had damaged the building in 1972.) The cost of damages was initially estimated at $30,000. Grier had previously announced a 65th anniversary celebration for September 2007, during which they would roll back menu items to their original prices, but the restaurant remained closed.
Hours of Operation
Prior to the late 1990s, H&O operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The restaurant remained open 24-hours on weekends until Hurricane Ivan struck in 2004. Before the 2007 fire it was open 8 a.m. to 5 or 5:30 p.m. seven days a week. Its new hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
- *Eastside Neighborhood Plan
- "H&O Café." Pensacola News Journal, April 29, 2007
- "Fire closes H&O Restaurant." Pensacola News Journal, July 19, 2007.
- "H&O Restaurant plans December reopening." Pensacola News Journal, November 29, 2007.