Rabbit’s Motel and Restaurant is an important part of Asheville’s history and was considered one of the crown jewels of Black-owned tourist courts when it opened. Owner Fred “Rabbit” Simpson played host to a who’s who of Black travelers at the motel, including Richard Pryor and Duke Ellington, while also serving his local community in the Southside neighborhood.

While the East Riverside Urban Renewal Project in Asheville targeted the Black-majority Southside, Rabbit's Motel remained a beacon for Black prosperity for more than 50 years. 

At the time of its opening, the motel featured an indoor dining room fountain, a state-of-the-art boiler, wide brick-trim columns topped with sculptural vases, and modern room furnishings. It provided lodging to traveling Black baseball teams, musicians, and travelers from across the country.

The motel was also known for its popular soul food restaurant that served favorites including pork chops “the size of bibles” and cornbread. Lou Ella Byrd, the wife of Fred Simpson’s nephew, cooked the food. 

Rabbit's Motel and Restaurant opened its doors in 1947 and closed in 2003. In December 2020, Rabbit's Motel reopened as SoundSpace@Rabbit’s, a music rehearsal facility that honors the building's past.