In the days when black-owned business flourished in the Fourth Avenue District, Hameen’s business became a staple and stopping point for area leaders, including the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Birmingham’s civil rights pioneer.
“Rev. Fred ate with us over the years. He would say about me, ‘I can call him out of the bed and I know he’ll get up and come fix me something to eat.’ And he was telling the truth,” Hameen says. “We have a history of working with the Foot Soldiers.”
And Chef Zeke is continuing his service to the civil rights foot soldiers by partnering with From The Mountain 2 the Valley Civil Rights Radio Broadcast in hosting its first Foot Soldiers retreat, called “Supper with the Foot Soldiers” at Z’s Restaurant, the newest establishment in Hameen’s business.
The Supper, the first Monday of each month, allows those children of the Movement to share their stories and allow younger generations to learn from the past. Civil Rights Radio Host Lady BJ Love King is inviting civic leaders and the public for dinner, discussions and decisions about today’s civil rights issues.
The first supper is Monday, May 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A full course-meal is being prepared for the radio show guests for $12, which includes beverage and tax.
Z’s Restaurant, located at 104 17th Street North, opened in August 2008. It initially could seat about 14, but Chef Zeek expanded it three years later to seat up to 65 people.
The building that housed Hameen’s first restaurant was torn down, and he moved his business to the Southside of Birmingham, where it operated from 1978 to 1988. He moved back into the Fourth Avenue business district in 1988.
His son also got into the business about five years ago, opening LaVase Restaurant. His son later renamed it Mrs. B’s, after his mother, Barbara Gay Hameen who was also a foot soldier in Birmingham’s civil rights movement.
“So for me, it’s an honor to fix food for the foot soldiers,” Chef Zeke says.