Share story

Sketched Sept. 23, 2015

Artist James Crespinel and his son Nicholas stood back to check the result of a few days of mural restoration. The original blue sky behind the pensive figure of Martin Luther King Jr. is now a starry night, and pink and blue outlines make him glow.

“You can see the sparkle in his eyes,” said a passer-by who joined them on the sidewalk. “Beautiful, beautiful,” said another one.

Central District neighbors may also want to express their gratitude to Erika White, manager of Fat’s Chicken & Waffles, the new restaurant that occupies the building where Crespinel first painted Dr. King in the mid 1990s.

When she accepted the job as manager of the new eatery, she did it with one condition: The mural on the side of the building had to stay. Not only that, she also said the image of Dr. King had faded and could use some work, so she tracked down Crespinel, who now lives in Mexico, and asked him if he’d mind touching it up.

No matter who occupies the building, the mural of Dr. King is something that shouldn’t be taken away, White said. “It’s a piece of our community.”

Fat’s Chicken & Waffles replaced the Catfish Corner, a popular neighborhood restaurant that closed in 2014. I now regret not having tried the popular Creole-spiced fish there when I sketched this same view three years ago, after walking around the neighborhood with Peggy Burns.

The restaurant and mural, in case you are not familiar with the area, are located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and E. Cherry St.