Reclaiming Segregated Spaces with Southern Food: Season 2, Episode 10 of 'Let's Go Together'

T+L heads to Savannah, Georgia in our latest episode.

Outdoor portrait with Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano with a dog on a bench
Photo: Adam Kuehl

After a year of coming together and staying home for the greater good, it's time to prepare yourself for one epic return to travel.

We're here to celebrate all the future good to come, including the reopening of borders and making plans together again with all-new episodes of our podcast, Let's Go Together, which highlights how travel changes the way we see ourselves and the world.

In the first season, our pilot and adventurer host, Kellee Edwards, introduced listeners to diverse globe-trotters who showed us that travelers come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. From the first Black woman to travel to every country on Earth to a man who trekked to Machu Picchu in a wheelchair, we met some incredible folks. And now, in our second season, we are back to introduce you to new people, new places, and new perspectives.

In our latest episode, Edwards chats with James Beard Award-winning chef Mashama Bailey and her business partner, John O. Morisano, about their restaurant The Grey, a formerly segregated Greyhound bus terminal, and the importance of reclaiming spaces like this.

"The bus terminal which houses The Grey, this abandoned Greyhound bus terminal, it was kind of an amazing example of an art deco space in the south and in Savannah and there were very few of those. It needed preservation, and so I decided that I would take on the project of preserving this abandoned 1938 Greyhound bus terminal," Morisano says. "As soon as I closed on the building, I think that this secret desire I had had for most of my adult life... to get into the restaurant business and be a restaurateur... immediately came gushing out of me."

Interior restaurant scene of The Grey in Savannah, GA
Chia Chong

However, Morisano says, he may have had the building but he didn't have the chef. So he wrote Mashama a letter asking for her to take a meeting. She accepted, and the rest is restaurant history.

But, for Mashama, her restaurant is about more than delicious bites. It's about celebrating all that Savannah has to offer and lifting up all those around her.

Black, White, and The Grey: The Story of An Unexpected Friendship and a Beloved Restaurant by Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano
Courtesy of Ten Speed

"I think Savannah likes to be quiet and it likes its small-townness. With the expansion of the port and just the city in general, I think it's growing. I think that what I want to speak to with the food here is that it is expanding and that it's worldly. There's a lot of rich, deep history here," she says. "A lot of it is dark but not all of it is dark. It's nice to expose all of it, the good, bad, and the ugly, through the food. I think if we can help sustain local businesses through the restaurant by buying food and supporting local farms and just being a part of the local economy here, I think that that this city is really on this growth pattern that they can no longer avoid."

Hear more from Chef Bailey, Johno, and Edwards about the south, The Grey, and more on Let's Go Together, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Player.FM, and everywhere podcasts are available.

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