History of Slade’s Bar & Grill

keySlade’s Bar & Grill has been serving drinks and mouthwatering soul food to the folks living in the South End and Lower Roxbury neighborhoods for over seven decades. During that time, dignitaries, sport stars, presidents and war heroes have been a part of Slade’s celebrated history.

Saying they wanted to give the Roxbury and South End communities a better place to relax, Ivan Payamps and Ramon Genao, purchased Slade’s Bar & Grill, one of Boston’s oldest black-owned nightclubs.

Once owned by Celtics legend Bill Russell during the 1960s, Slade’s traces its history back to the 1930s and claims many jazz greats and famous patrons, including heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Former owner Frank Williams said he inherited the popular nightspot in 1998 when his father, Frank Williams Sr., died. Williams Sr. had purchased the club from Russell back in the ’60s.

“I lost a little of the passion that I once had,” Williams Jr. said during an interview. “It was time for me to move on and let someone else have the opportunity to keep it going.”

“These guys are straight-shooters,” Williams Jr. said. “I had no problem pulling the trigger on this deal with them. They came to the table with their checkbooks — not just their mouths.”

For his part, Payamps said he couldn’t be happier with the deal. “It was win-win for everyone,” he said.

Payamps said he plans to keep the club’s name and its trademark style of R&B and jazz entertainment. He said he does plan to change the interior design by creating more open space.

Slades bar and Grill“It’s a good business,” Payamps said. “Slade’s has a lot of history, and it’s one of those places where everybody knows where it is.”

Williams Jr. said major change would not be a good idea, largely because Slade’s has a longstanding tradition of being a neighborhood bar catering predominantly to African Americans. Its menu includes most of the staples of Southern cuisine — fried chicken and fish, greens, sweet potatoes and macaroni and cheese.

“They know what they bought,” Williams Jr. said. “It would be too much time and heartache trying to change the format of the place. And it makes good business sense to keep it the same.”

On that point, Payamps agrees.

“Everything is going to be the same,” he said. “Business has been very good there and we just want a better place for people to relax.”