Morton Emerson opened Emerson’s in 1934. The nightspot was listed in The Negro Motorist Travel Guide. According to The John Coltrane Reference, John Coltrane and Percy Heath stopped by Emerson’s to see saxophonist Lester Young on June 17, 1948.

Billie Holiday’s gig at the South Philly jazz club on March 14, 1959 — four months before her death — is the setting for the Broadway play, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.”

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill - Playbill

Audra McDonald won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play.

Also known as Emerson’s Café and Emerson’s Sunset Grille, Emerson’s closed circa 1960.