Hours before the public viewing for George Floyd, the Houston native who died while in Minneapolis police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25, former Vice President Joe Biden and members of Floyd's family met at Museum District restaurant Lucille's Fine Southern Foods, according to a representative for the establishment.
Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, was in town to attend Floyd's funeral tomorrow. The presumptive Democratic nominee's wife Jill Biden joined him, Floyd's family members, Lucille's chef and owner Chris Williams, and Williams' own family members at the eatery on Monday morning, a typical off-day for the restaurant. According to the representative, the Bidens were at the eatery for about three-and-a-half hours. They met the Floyd family in a private dining room, then ate brunch together, before Biden filmed an interview with CBS Evening News, which will air at 5:30 p.m. Monday evening.
Lucille's became the chosen spot for all of this due to the place's reputation, which has been stellar ever since Williams opened the joint back in 2012. The Biden campaign researched Houston restaurants last week and was impressed with Williams and his accomplishment in creating a spot that blends European culinary traditions and Southern cooking, a Lucille's spokesperson said. They also loved the story of Lucille B. Smith, Williams's great-grandmother and restaurant namesake, a trailblazer who developed a college food service training department at Prairie View A&M University in 1937, then wrote a popular cookbook in 1941, and invented the first hot biscuit mix.
Last week, Williams told Houstonia that Lucille's saw a massive uptick in business immediately following last Tuesday's march honoring Floyd. Williams, who was among those at the march, lauded his fellow Houstonians for setting an example of how to protest and demonstrate in the effort to overhaul American policing.
"As far as the real movement and affecting change, I think it's gonna take a lot more of the displays like in Houston," said Williams. "It's crazy that Houston did it so perfectly."
Meanwhile, the Floyd family was slated to gather late Monday afternoon, after the viewing, at the black-owned Upper Kirby Bistro, according to a representative for that establishment. Mayor Sylvester Turner and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee are expected to join the family. A Netflix camera crew is also expected to be in attendance due to the presence of famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is currently representing Floyd's family. The filming is for an upcoming documentary.
Back at Lucille's, Williams said he was "filled with gratitude and honored" to have hosted the Bidens and the Floyd family Monday.
"This morning was such a full circle moment for my family and I. My great grandmother, Lucille, was visited by the Roosevelts, and we still have her letter of commendation from President Lyndon Johnson hanging in our dining room," Williams told Houstonia. "For Vice President Biden to come here, and to personally gift me a challenge coin, then to see him interacting with my family under this roof is definitely one of my proudest moments thus far."