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Delaware North partner shares perspective on family’s enduring legacy in New Orleans and beyond

Edgar “Dook” Chase IV is a fourth-generation chef, restaurateur and owner of Chase Hospitality Group, a Delaware North joint-venture partner at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY), Nashville International Airport and Boston Logan International Airport.

Chase grew up working at his family’s restaurant, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, located in the Treme district of New Orleans. His grandparents, Edgar “Dooky” Chase Jr. and Leah Lange Chase, first opened their doors as a sandwich shop in 1941. The iconic Dooky’s Chase’s later became one of the first African American-owned fine dining restaurants in the country, serving as a prominent gathering place for entertainment, delectable cuisine and important conversations during the Civil Rights Movement.

Leah’s Kitchen at New Orleans airport offers travelers a glimpse into the Chase family through its cuisine, artwork and mural of Chase’s grandmother – a tribute to her legacy as a chef, community builder and civil rights activist. Delaware North’s partnerships with minority-owned businesses are essential for promoting economic growth, social responsibility and community engagement at major airports. By partnering with diverse businesses, airports can tap into new markets, foster entrepreneurship and contribute to the economic development of underrepresented communities. These partnerships also demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion, both within airports and the broader community.

In this Q&A, Chase reflects on keeping his family’s legacy alive through activism, cuisine and hospitality.

How did you get started in the culinary and hospitality industry?

I grew up working in every aspect of Dooky Chase’s, from front-of-house to eventually learning in the kitchen from my grandmother, and I later attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. I formed Chase Hospitality in 2012, the same year we began a joint-venture partnership with Delaware North at MSY. Since then, we have opened airport concepts such as Leah’s Kitchen and Dook’s Burger and expanded brands to the Boston and Nashville airports.

Last year, we opened Chapter IV in New Orleans’ financial district. This streetside restaurant celebrates the fourth generation of our family business and the generations who came before us. The food and the atmosphere at Chapter IV represent a modern twist on my grandmother’s legacy, inspired by a deep culture of service and promotion of African American art and music.

Your family has a rich culinary legacy. How has your history influenced your identity as a chef and business owner?

My parents and grandparents taught me hospitality in the holistic sense, meaning we are here to serve both in and outside our restaurants and as anchors for our communities. All our establishments showcase art and live music to entertain guests while integrating more African American culture into our business.

I learned that to succeed in hospitality, you should treat everyone with kindness and respect – from your guests to partners to employees. Chase Hospitality employs more than 200 people, and the growth and well-being of our team members and their families are important indicators of our success. Seeing my ancestors overcome serious challenges while still operating thriving establishments inspires my crew and me daily to keep moving forward and focus on our family-owned foundation and values.

Can you highlight specific culinary contributions or traditions within your family that have impacted your culinary journey?

My grandmother helped change the course of America over a bowl of gumbo. During segregation, Dooky Chase’s was open to people of every color and was an important meeting space for Civil Rights Movement leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall. This was courageous and set the tone for the next generation. We use family recipes that have been passed down such as sauces, fresh gulf seafood, gumbo, jambalaya, greens and fried chicken. We add new twists to our Creole cuisine – which blends influences from Africa, Spain, France and Native Americans – but I try to stay true to who I am, and hopefully our guests can see and taste that. I believe streetside restaurants have a duty to improve their surrounding communities by creating foot traffic, new jobs and connections among businesses.

As an operator at the New Orleans airport, we can share the story of New Orleans to visitors and locals before they even leave the airport. All our restaurants evoke a sense of place rooted in my family’s legacy while celebrating the rich traditions and culture of New Orleans.