Celebrating Bertha’s Kitchen

Celebrating Bertha's Kitchen

Walk into Bertha’s Kitchen in Charleston, South Carolina, and you glimpse the tables through painted glass. Albertha (Bertha) Grant is pictured surrounded by her three daughters, who rest their hands lovingly on her shoulders. Their portraits were painted by Charleston muralist Charles DeSaussure. “We took this [picture] after church one Sunday,” says Sharon Grant Coakley, Bertha’s oldest daughter. “Mother said, ‘I want to take a picture with my girls.’”

BerthaSignInside_1

Mary&GirlsKiss_5
Bertha’s best friend, Mary Glover, with her three daughters in front of the restaurant.

It is fitting this mural of family love greets all who enter. Today, years after Bertha passed away, her black chair still sits in the kitchen in its old spot, and her loving, watchful presence is felt everyday by her three daughters who cook together to keep her legacy alive. “She helped us keep the bond in the kitchen going,” says daughter Julie Grant. “She’s still here…I can feel her at times.”

“It’s hard being without her, because we’re used to her being in here with us every day,” explains daughter Linda Pinckney. “But in the meantime she’s watching over us to make sure we’re doing what she wants us to do.”

Hear Bertha Grant’s story as told by her children in our Women At Work in Charleston project.

This year, the James Beard Foundation named Bertha’s Kitchen a 2017 America’s Classics award. This honor is given to regional establishments, often family-owned, that are treasured for their quality food, local character, and lasting appeal.

Learn more about Bertha’s Kitchen with Joe York’s film “Charleston Soul Food.”