By Shirley Everett-Dicko
Ronnie Stewart, of the West Coast Blues Society, center, acknowledges an audience member as Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, left, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, right, attend the unveiling of 88 plaques for “The Music They Played on 7th Street Oakland” Walk of Fame in West Oakland on March 6, 2015. Photo by JIM HARRINGTON | firstname.lastname@example.org | Bay Area News Group
We are proud and honored to announce that Everett & Jones Barbeque will have a plaque on Oakland’s Walk of Fame. "The Music They Played on 7th Street, Oakland Walk of Fame" pays tribute to the great musicians, club owners, record companies, related independent businesses and others that put 7th Street on the map as a top entertainment destination. A total of 88 brass plaques — the number of keys on a piano — will be embedded into both sides of the sidewalk along 7th Street, between Center and Wood Streets. The plaques will honor those that helped earn 7th Street the nickname “Harlem of the West.”
Ronnie Stewart, the executive director for the nonprofit West Coast Blues Society, has been working on the Walk of Fame since 1990. The first phase of “The Music They Played on 7th Street, Oakland Walk of Fame was completed in 2015.
The second phase has begun and needs your support for completion and the maintenance of the plaques. According to Ronnie Stewart the second phase of plaques will be between Peralta and Woods Streets, in the true heart of the entertainment district, and is expected to be completed in 5 to 6 weeks.
Jim Harrington of the East Bay Times reported "The Music They Played on 7th Street, Oakland Walk of Fame" is part of a $5.1 million project to renovate 7th Street and the surrounding neighborhood, which has received funding from the Oakland Redevelopment Agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and BART, among other sources.
The Oakland City Council Resolution on April 3, 2012, states that "The Music They Played on 7th Street, Oakland Walk of Fame" is hereby and forever more recognized as an historical treasure in the City of Oakland and celebrated accordingly in the City of Oakland, and throughout the State of California. Please support and donate to the Go Fund Me/Oakland Walk Of Fame thank you in advance.
Some of the historical businesses that were on 7th Street before urban renewal wiped out the commercial district. Map by https://projects.journalism.berkeley.edu/7thstreet-archive//
Please support and donate to : Go Fund Me/Oakland Walk Of Fame
Dear Mr. Franklin,
I am curious did you purposely choose Oakland for your 1st-ever Hot Luck Road Trip because of its already well-established rich BBQ culture, or was it because of the national media attention we've received lately about our phenomenally, massive, successful, anti-racist BBQ’n-while-Black push-back event (in Oakland in response to the viral #BBQBecky incident that was turned into a new annual cultural celebration)? If you are coming to showcase Oakland’s rich and diverse BBQ culture and legacy, and want to help in the fight against racism, welcome to Oakland. I am concerned though because instead of reaching out and partnering with Oakland’s well-established, black, BBQ community to jointly showcase their truly universal appeal, and its regional BBQ style it seems, to me, that you are not coming to Oakland to embrace our diverse BBQ culture and community, but to leech off of it.
Lamont Patton from Everett and Jones Barbeque cooked up a feast at the BBQing While Black event on Sunday at Lake Merritt in Oakland, Calif. Laura A. Oda/East Bay Times, via Associated Press
If I look at your promo ad for your road trip to Oakland, it doesn't seem you are coming to help fight hand-in-hand against racism. It appears you are trying to exclude Oakland's very own Black BBQ community by not acknowledging the locals. Are you trying to kick us out of our own BBQ history and legacy in our own backyard? That’s so disrespectful. Your promo ad gives the impression that you are showcasing the best of regional BBQ styles with no one from Oakland. You have Mr. Rodney Scott of South Carolina, you from Texas and then you include Mr. Farr, your friend, who is not from Oakland, but just opened a restaurant in Oakland 3 months ago (burger & BBQ restaurant) Excuse me Mr. Franklin but Mr. Farr does not represent Oakland-style BBQ. He’s not even from California the region you’re featuring but you already knew that.
It also seems to me that you want the benefits afforded you for being in a city with a rich black BBQ culture and legacy and ignore-even distance yourself from the people who created it. You could have easily staged your event at Mr. Farr’s patio location in San Francisco, but you didn't. I wonder if it’s because you wanted to help in his attempt to co-opt Oakland's rich BBQ legacy and culture to exploit for his own purpose making you a co-exploiter Sir.
Mr. Franklin, you have been made the de-facto face and ambassador of BBQ by the national media and those who seek to rewrite BBQ’s history. I am here to tell you that BBQ has no national standard so stop trying to make one. Slow your roll. BBQ has regional prefaces and taste based on where you were born and grew up. You are choosing to use your platform of privilege to disrespect and marginalize Oakland’s Black BBQ pitmasters in an attempt to elevate, your friend, Mr. Farr to the top of Oakland’s BBQ hierarchy; even though he has not earned it and not from Oakland or California; but another region altogether. Wait! Stop-the-presses, he's not from here-we’re being set-up, for crying out loud, somebody call McCloud, Ironside don’t you let ‘em slide, Whodunit? It's a BBQ mystery. So I’ll ask, “Who’s representing our region?” Sounds a lot like the parents in the college admission scam who cheated and paid to get their kids into college. It is a blatant attempt of cultural appropriation. You do not get to come to our city and disrespect the people and the culture that produced it. You either come correct or not at all.
Let me help you. Oakland’s historical Black BBQ culture has been around for well over a century before Mr. Farr’s burger & BBQ decided to move to Oakland 3 months ago. News flash to the national media: California has a well-established, rich, diverse BBQ culture and regional styles too. No disrespect to my Indigenous brothers and sisters who were here before we came, but where do you think the black people leaving the south went to? Our BBQ culture followed us from the south and was perfected in the West-(California that is- swimming pools and movie stars). My mama and daddy were both born and grew up in Alabama, and every year there is a family reunion in Alabama. The Jones of Everett and Jones was a funky young soul brother from Idalou, Texas. So what we ain’t gonna do is act like Black folks in Oakland and California need a white savior(s) to come to town and show us how to do BBQ the “right way”- I mean the white way. Are y'all trying to whitewash Oakland's national BBQ reputation and create something right for Oakland-I mean white? Sorry, I keep sneezing.
One more very important thing Mr. Franklin before I get off my Soap Box, it's astonishing to me that you are coming to Oakland and didn't have the decency or respect to invite the home-grown champions-black female pitmasters, who are from Oakland to participate in your 1st ever road trip to Oakland event. Why is that? Is it that the Black BBQ culture in Oakland is led by black women. That’s right Margaret Flintroy led the legendary Flint's Bar-B-Q after her husband died, and Dorothy Everett, with her eight daughters and one son, built Everett and Jones Barbeque into the legendary powerhouse that continues today with her grandchildren. Sorry, but the bottom rail is on top here.
This kind of misogynistic, sexist, dismissiveness of women is not Okay Mr. Franklin – Not in Oakland! We push back against people and systems that try to erase us and all we have accomplished in the midst of oppressive national norms. You don't get to come here and not acknowledge and/or greet the neighbors. The Everett and Jones Barbeque sisters are legends in Oakland and have been in the BBQ game longer than you or your friend Mr. Farr (1973). In fact, we are right down the street from your road trip location, how ironic? But I have a feeling that you already knew that.
No! We will not let you take credit for our hard work, nor will you act as if what we have isn’t good enough because you fail to acknowledge it. In fact, we have 46 years of proof that it is. I’ll say it again, you cannot come here and hijack our culture and stories of struggles and benefit from our black experiences here in Oakland. Surely you know Oakland is home of the black-power resistance movement, and not the place to try and bring white-male privilege, superiority ideologies. Wakanda Forever!
Cleveland and Dorothy Everett and their nine children; (From left to right) Angie, Shirley, Mary, Virginia, Yolanda, Annie, Helen, Dorothy Jr., and son George.
Mr. Rodney Scott with much respect from the pits of my soul, game recognizes game, but I know your mama taught you better. Shame on you for participating in this sexist/racist attempt of a ruse to exclude Oakland’s black female pitmasters from an event that you are featured in, in their own backyard. You were born a king. Lift up your queens and uphold the centuries of knowledge and traditional BBQ cooking methods that lives in our DNA, and was passed down from our ancestors stolen from Africa and brought to America. Think it over my brotha and help make sure your sistah’s voices are heard and respected.
Maya Angelou said it best “You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I'll rise!” Mr. Franklin, if we exclude the obvious and your shameless culpability in this ruse and you truly want to make amends; you could use your platform to speak out and use your voice to amplify the national debate about displacement and eradication of fellow African Americans and their contributions to the history of BBQ in America; it is our story too. Whew Lordy! I had to get that off my chest. #Oaklandbbq #Ourstory2
BBQ is Our Story Too:
By Shirley Everett-Dicko & Yvette Jones-Hawkins
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff says that she will bet some Everett and Jones Barbeque, a pound of Blue Bottle Coffee, a pound of Red Bay Coffee, and a box of Ocho chocolates. Let's go Warriors!
By Yvette Jones-Hawkins
"Blues singer, Charles Brown became a part of the family. He’d sing “Please Come Home For Christmas” from Thanksgiving Day throughout Christmas day"
I’m the second oldest grandchild behind my cousin Lamont (Monty), who is only 5 months older and I remember the good ole times around Christmas. When I was younger, I remember going to grandma’s with my family: my mother Annie Jones, father James Jones, brother (James Jones Jr. aka Scooter), and little sister LaShaun in our pajamas.
My earliest memory of Christmas was the smell of Sweet potato pies baking in the oven, Charles Brown bellowing “Please Come Home For Christmas”, grandma in the kitchen, aunts, cousins, friends, and friends of friends all crowding in my grandmother’s 2000 sq. ft. home. This is how we spent Christmas growing up. Those were the good ole days that I thought about while serving overseas in the Navy and what I think of now as I live in North Carolina with my own family. It was always a special time for me and our Everett & Jones Family.
It wasn’t just because of the gathering it was also because the restaurants were closed and that was reason to celebrate. They were only closed two days out of the year-Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was one of two times when we didn’t have to worry about what was going on at the restaurant, or who would go and lock up. We didn’t think about ribs, beef, chicken, or links (nor was it on our Christmas dinner menu). No one had to go and make sauce or get supplies. This was one day we could spend as family, and you could feel the sense of relieve in the air.
Blues singer, Charles Brown became a part of the family. He’d sing “Please Come Home For Christmas” from Thanksgiving Day throughout Christmas day. If you ask any one of the grandchildren they can sing the entire song including the lead guitar instrumental interlude. It is seared in our brains. There was a time when we’d cover our ears trying to escape; now we can’t wait to hear it played to signify the beginning of the season.
Just like the restaurants, grandma Dorothy Everett, Head Chief in Charge, also headed this kitchen crew in her home. She was a hard, working woman, who never stopped. Grandma could always be found in the kitchen either sitting at the table picking the meat off of cooked chicken necks and gizzards for her homemade dressing, or stirring in one of several pots. By the time we’d arrive she had accosted plenty of help in the kitchen. One was chopping bell peppers, onions, and celery, another peeling mounds of sweet potatoes, while another was trying to stay on top of the dirty dishes that were rapidly piling up. This was often Auntie Katie’s job and she’d fuss the whole time. If you were smart you stayed clear of the kitchen because they would quickly find you something to do.
Grandma had managed to cook about 30 sweet potato pies by Christmas Eve, which were strategically placed throughout the kitchen and dining room so she could watch them. She’d only let us eat the “ugly ones” on Christmas Eve-the ones that were burnt around the edges, or had either gotten damaged during the process.
As some things changed others never did. Someone is always coming through the door with a dirty apron with a smeared smutted faced and charred Afros, jerry curls, or weave in this family. There is always Sweet Potato pies scattered throughout somebody’s kitchen and dining room and The last time at Grandma’s house, Auntie Katie was still fussing about washing dishes, and Auntie Helen still carted away leftovers in Tupperware dishes. However one thing did change, my cousin Auzerais no longer serves us indescribable looking cookies and cupcakes. She went on to culinary school and received a Bachelor of Science degree in culinary science. She now works for Aramark as a pastry chef. We like to remind her that we endured the hard times together with her desserts. Through the process we all smiled and encouraged her all the while inconspicuously discarding them in a napkin. She now has her own web-based pastry business www.blondery.com/
Eventually the family grew too big to sleep on grandma’s floor and she kicked us out to sleep at our own homes and instead come the next day. We got too big to eat around the dining room table, kitchen table, and kids table, so they moved it outside under the extended carport at a 30 ft. long table, which was dressed for the festivities. We didn’t care where we ate, just as long as we ate together. Eventually we outgrew the carport and moved it to Everett & Jones restaurant in Jack London Square because it was the only place big enough to hold us.
Now we’re all grown up with families of our own, and Grandma is no longer with us. Some of us are struggling to recreate the memories of the past, while others are taking on new ones. Let me encourage you to remember family this year. We have everything we need to survive- Jesus Christ, good food, love, and family.
Most important let’s remember why we celebrate this season. No it’s not because the restaurants are closed although that’s good too, but it is the fact that God loved us so much that He sent us a Savior that we might be saved. Grandma was good, and did a wonderful job, but it is because of God’s grace and mercy that we are blessed beyond measure. Don’t take it for granted. It’s not just a cliché that He is the reason for the season because He really is. We are family-the Everett & Jones Barbeque family. Merry Christmas family I love you.
- Remembering Love Ones In Heaven This Christmas -
By Shirley Everett-Dicko
Back in the 70’s James Jones was the quintessential cool. This tall, dark, strong, handsome brutha from Lubbock County, Texas always looked like he stepped off the set of some Blaxploitation film. The Mack (Max Julien), Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore), Superfly (Ron O’Neal) and Shaft (Richard Roundtree) had nothing on him. He smelled good, looked good, had an easy smile that made the girls blush, and a quiet voice which made you lean closer in to hear what he was saying.
You'd find him wearing his signature cowboy boots buffed to perfection, blue jeans starched to attention, big belt buckle that shine bright as a diamond, and a Stetson hat that sat perfectly on his head cocked to the side, along with his groovy polyester suits, 5 inches wide neckties and full-length leather coats. And the brutha had a perfectly shaped afro, can you dig it? Yes, you can! No! He wasn’t a gangster or a pimp. He was Jones and the coolest mutha (Shut yo mouth!) to ever grace the streets of Oakland, California.
He was a super cool sexy black cowboy, before Kool Moe Dee and Will Smith. He had that Wild Wild West original vibe. He was an urban cowboy cruising down the streets of East Oakland in a crème and gold colored Lincoln Continental Mark IV with the matching leather seats and interior. You could spot him anywhere. When his car passed, it felt like it moved in slow motion just so you could see the sun dance off its body. Dope as hell!
. . . diamond in the back, sunroof top diggin' the scene with a gangsta lean wooh-ooh-ooh.
Jones, called by his last name from his military days, was a veteran of the United States Navy- A third class Boatswain Mate and the original master link-maker for the family business-Everett & Jones Barbeque. He put the Jones in Everett & Jones. This black funky soul brutha from Texas wrote the book on the art of making delicious homemade beef links. Lawd, that man could make some tasty links. It ought to be a law against it! Jones took you to church with those links. It didn’t get any better than biting into a perfectly smoked, perfectly seasoned, coarsely ground, juicy beef link; make you wanna dance, make you wanna shout, and for no reason at all run and testify. I ain’t one to gossip and you didn’t hear it from me, while Jones and Mama Dorothy came up with the recipe for the homemade beef links, it was Jones who was the link-meister, the architect-the master craftsman-the Guru-the wizard-the almighty link god (ahhhh…) let the church say amen. Amen!
We are often asked what gives Everett & Jones Barbeque its delicious taste and unique and wonderful smell. The answer is obvious, it's the beef links, baby. Say it loud, “Black folks love them some links!” And after 45 years of bbq'n (while black) that’s a Black-Fact, Jack and not just my opinion. Black folks don’t play. If we were out of links, they would walk away cussing you and your mama out. Jones had been anointed with the divine gift and talent of making superb-tasting, award-winning beef links. The same care he took in his wardrobe and car was put in his link making. Watching the master at work was almost spiritual. How did he do it you ask? That’s a closely guarded, protected, threat of death, family secret. Seriously, if I tell you they’ll come after me (looking over my shoulder) . . . Ok here’s the missing link (see what I did here) but you didn’t get it from me.
Jones was born and grew up in Idalou, Texas the son of Johnny Jones and Cora Lee (Minnie) Smith, and he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1961. He was a complicated yet simple man. As the story goes, Jones met Dorothy while she was working at Jenkins Original Barbeque on 7th Street in West Oakland. Dorothy would feed him and a few of his Navy friends whenever they were portside and wanted a home-cooked meal, especially during the holidays when they couldn’t go home. Our house was always full of Sailors. Mama Dorothy eventually introduced Jones to her daughter, Annie Pearl, the second oldest of her eight daughters and one son. They were married a year later in 1966 and three children followed (Yvette, James and LaShaun).
Johnny Jones and Cora Lee (Minnie) Smith and their son James Jones in his Stetson hat
Siblings Yvette Jones-Hawkins, James Jones Jr. and LaShaun Jones
To the sisters he was the big brother we never had. He took us on ship tours during Fleet Week, he was also the bodyguard at the restaurant, the prom date for the dateless, and the high standard for future husbands. Since Annie Pearl was the first of us to marry we named the restaurant Everett & Jones.
After an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy, Jones settled down in Oakland continuing the diaspora of Blacks moving out of the south to a better more urban life. He got a job working at General Motors in Oakland, where he worked for 19 years until it closed and then at Nummi (New United Motors in Fremont, CA) until retirement. Making links was his part time gig y’all. Just imagine what those links would taste like if it was full-time.
Siblings Virginia, Angie, Dorothy Jr, Mary, Annie, Yolanda, Shirley and mother Dorothy and Jones
This legendary slow-walkin’, smooth talkin’ Texan-Gentleman-Husband-Father-Brother-in-law, ex auto worker and United States Veteran changed the game in Oakland’s rich BBQ history. The King of links, James Jones, helped lift Everett and Jones Barbeque heads above the rest and positioned the family business for its long reign as a top tier BBQ restaurant and destination.
Jones ushered in future heirs to the link throne, like his son James Jr., his nephews and grandsons, and they honor his legacy. On special occasions Jones can be coaxed out of retirement to make some beef links for us, reminding us all of our delicious history. “Ummmm” as I chew this perfectly smoked, perfectly seasoned and coarsely ground beef link, The King of Links lives.
Jones making a small batch of beef links at daughter Yvette's home
Keeping up with the Jones and Hawkins' families with this photo slideshow. Thank you for your service this Veteran's Day.
Jones inspired his first born, Yvette Jones-Hawkins, son James Jones Jr. and one grandson Jalen Hawkins to join the military to serve our country. Daughter Yvette married Sean Hawkins also a Navy veteran. Thank you all for your service.
Salute to all veterans this Veterans Day.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. Honoring all who fought, died and their families. Thank you for your service and sacrifice #VeteransDay2018
3 generations of service to our country. James Jones, daughter Yvette-Jones Hawkins, son James Jones Jr., grandson Jalen Hawkins (not pictured Sean Hawkins and son Kenan Hawkins) thank you all for your service.
What was Everett and Jones Barbeque
like in the 70's?
If you hear any noise, it ain’t the boys getting down; it’s the sisters running thangs! These nine beautiful, classy, sassy, sexy, big-legged (they got it from their mama) queens made history and have come to take their rightful place on the throne.
Fair Deal Meat Market was the barber shop for BBQ joints with its old time charm and friendly faces.
There was a place in Oakland at 3605 Market Street where Flint’s, Everett and Jones, Carmen’s and other BBQ business owners gathered to socialize; usually in the morning, way before the sun could melt the dew off the meat trucks.
The Barbeque Legacy of West Oakland's Historic 7th Street
Blues was the music they played on 7th Street and barbeque was the food they ate. Oakland-style barbeque is the Blues. Just like the Blues, American barbeque was birthed out of hard times on slave plantations, and is the pride and grit of the Black Power in the late 1960's. 7th Street to Oakland was what Beal Street is to Memphis. People went there to eat and be entertained. The Barbeque Legacy of West Oakland's Historic 7th Street
By Shirley Everett-Dicko and Yvette Jones-Hawkins
There was a place in Oakland at 3605 Market Street where Flint’s, Everett and Jones, Carmen’s and other BBQ business owners gathered to socialize; usually in the morning, way before the sun could melt the dew off the meat trucks. We would park our business trucks, vans and cars at the back door and casually gather inside the back of the store, behind the heavy sliding door that made a loud bang when it met the wall. A family of butchers in starch white smocks greeted you on those cold mornings with free coffee an occasional donut, lots of smiles and bad jokes. Like men in a barbershop-laughin’, gaggin’ and raggin’ on one another, Fair Deal Meat Market was the barber shop for BBQ joints with its old time charm and friendly faces.
While we waited for our meat orders to be filled and loaded into our vehicles we would catch up on the families, the comings and goings and share our experiences of running a small business. To the public we were competitors, but at Fair Deal Meat Market we were friends. At the head of this rag-tag group of professional business owners was Harry Mock, the owner of Fair Deal. Born in 1919 in Mainland China, he would be sitting at his desk in the middle of his small cubby size office; only big enough to fit a small ledge to write on and a stool to sit on. Above his head were numerous ticket books neatly stacked in alphabetical order displaying all the company’s names written with a black or red marker. Fair Deal was closed for business on Sundays but would not hesitate to open up just for you if you needed extra meat; who does that? They were awesome!
Fair Deal Meat Market opened January 24, 1934; Harry began working in the store in 1937. Chances are if you have eaten at local BBQ restaurants in Oakland and the East Bay Fair Deal Meat Market supplied the meat. After 84 years in business, Fair Deal Meat Market, an institution for wholesale and retail meats for barbecuing has closed its doors. It had provided meats for barbecuing to all the legends of Oakland style barbeque, including Jenkins Original Bar-B-Que back in the day. October 6, 2018, was its last day of operation.
Harry had often shared his stories of being swept up in raids and forced to live in a concentration camp during World War II. He’d say, “see I’m just like you I’m not special.” In 1995, Harry died and in 2001, his lovely wife Helen passed away. The couple had six daughters. Harry’s son-in-law Ron ran the business after Harry’s death with help from his brother Gary. Ron and Gary were cool-ass straight up homeboys from McClymonds High School. They are our brothers from another mother. The only difference was they were of Asian descent and we were not. I have fond memories of this store and the people who worked in it. The late Mr. Fong was the hard working butcher, who delivered the meat to the restaurants and Brian his young trainee. Mr. Fong didn’t say much but he sure smiled a lot.
Harry and my mother, Dorothy Everett, were friends since 1964. I remember when I met Harry for the first time, I was 13 years old helping my mom out at Jenkins Original Bar-B-Que on 7th Street in West Oakland. He would come rolling into the restaurant with his hand truck full of meat; cheerful with his white smock on. Harry always gave my mom a Peking duck for Christmas. When mom left Jenkins and went to Flint’s Bar-B-Q her friendship with Harry continued and they added a business relationship. When Mr. Flintroy of Flint’s Bar-B-Q died Harry convinced mom that if she decided to strike out on her own, he would continue their business relationship in her new venture. Mom took him up on his word and Everett and Jones Barbeque opened in 1973.
Photo from Yelp www.yelp.com/biz/fair-deal-meat-market-emeryville
In an Oakland Tribune article dated June 1993, Tribune librarian Steve LaVoie said one of Harry Mock’s first BBQ customers was Sam’s BBQ which opened in 1949, located in a social club in Emeryville (The building at 1036 36th Street was razed in 1996). Mock is quoted saying, “If Jenkins (Jenkins Original Barbeque) is the father of modern day barbecue, then Dorothy Everett (Everett and Jones Barbeque) is the mother.”
Fair Deal Meat Market is the thread that ran through just about all BBQ restaurants in Oakland and the Bay Area. Before Jetro, Cash N’ Carry and Smart and Final, Fair Deal was the place to go for fresh meats and specialize cuts. The personalized service you got from this old school, wholesale and retail butcher shop was incomparable. There you were always treated like family. Heck, we were family. Come in for the meats and leave with smiles, friendships and a promise to come back. 84 years what a legacy! Farewell my friends, you will be missed!
Happy Retirement Ron and Gary!
What was Everett and Jones Barbeque like in the 70's?
If you hear any noise, it ain’t the boys getting down; it’s the sisters running thangs! These nine beautiful, classy, sassy, sexy, big-legged (they got it from their mama) queens made history and have come to take their rightful place on the throne.
In order to give voice and perspective to a male-dominated theory that says only men (particularly white men) are the pitmasters, I want to introduce you to nine dynamic black women who have earned the title pitmaster, and helped create, in our culture, what we know now as the “barbeque experience”.
Barbeque and classic 70’s and 80’s soul music is one hell of a combo; ain’t nothing like it in the world. Come with me to the
“Pit” (a black-owned barbeque joint). It's 1973, in Oakland, California, America is in a recession, and it’s ludicrous to think of starting a business, but those rules don’t apply to these goal-driven, hard-working, take-no-mess, no-holds-barred women who were born and raised for this. Walk through their doors and all of your senses go into overload; the smell and taste is unsurpassed or subservient to non-other. In fact, it is superlatively superior to all its competitors near and far. Bow down bitches this is Fantabulous!. It is soul food-food of the soul.
This Labor Day I want to honor the BBQ goddesses who chopped up BBQ in the early 70’s and 80’s; the ones who took your money, and were the expert pitmasters. I'm talking about the eight Everett sisters and their mama from Everett and Jones Barbeque; nine fierce black, female pitmasters- Dorothy, Virginia, Annie, Dorothy Jr, Shirley, Mary, Helen, Yolanda and Sarah, (enough to field a baseball team), BBQ icons; forever in a class of their own and could stand toe to toe with any man claiming to be better. If the soul music coming from the jukebox didn’t get you, the “Brickhouses” behind the counter working sure did. With their SmokyFros (afros and smoke), short skirts and pantyhose; they made the place hot! If you hear any noise, it ain’t the boys getting down; it’s the sisters running thangs! These nine beautiful, classy, sassy, sexy, big-legged (they got it from their mama) queens made history and have come to take their rightful place on the throne.
Don’t get it twisted; the damn sexiness of these sisters didn’t limit their abilities to be some bad- ass cooks; these sisters could burn the roof off the sucker. They put fire in your soul and pep in your steps and not just with the hot sauce. The jukebox spinning 45’s from the corner of the restaurant hold the soundtrack and stories of the black experience; golden oldies and current monster jams. I dare you not to sway to the tunes. The food and music are connected-two natural forces working in perfect harmony doing a slow grind that should only be done at a basement party with a red light on. The music is the secret sauce and it made the BBQ taste better.
On Friday and Saturday nights, the Pit was packed like a house party. You were either on your way to the club or coming back and stopping to get some ‘que was part of the rotation. The jukebox was like a righteous deejay that kept the party going. Married men took off their wedding rings when entering the restaurant. They dedicated songs to the sisters . . . the way you walk and talk really sets me off to a 4 alarm, child, yes, it does, the way you squeeze and tease, knocks to me my knees ‘cause I'm smoking', baby. The way you swerve and curve, really wrecks my nerves and I'm so excited, child (yeah), woo, woo. Before Fire by the Ohio Players (1974) was the theme song for Gordon Ramsay’ Hell’s Kitchen it belonged to the Everett & Jones girls.
All night long men fed the jukebox, dropping quarters, stuffing the tip jar, dedicating songs to the sisters, in hopes for extra meat or at least a telephone number. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t depending on how strong their game was. Disco Lady by Johnnie Taylor (1977) got the cutie pie cutter groovin’ and choppin’ ribs to the beat . . . shake it up shake it down, move it in move it around, disco lady . . . sexy lady girl you drive me crazy . . . shake it baby shake it, baby shake your thang. The way these fine big-legged sisters are handling the meat cleaver is frightening; wouldn’t want to make her mad, but only made you want her more. The sisters could chop up a whole slab of ribs in 10 seconds flat, I ain't lying, into 25 to 30 pieces with precision and not leave any of her fingers on your plate. Perfection!
The fine, amazon, pit boss in her short skirt is built! She's stacked with all the curves that men like. You can tell the sister knows her BBQing shit; busting all stereotypes and doubts that women can’t barbeque-can’t compete, and can’t master the art of slow smoking meat over wood in brick smokers. You obviously didn’t know these women. “She’s a Bad Mama Jama” – Carl Carlton (1975) . . . look at her, she’s a bad Mama Jama, she’s just as fine as she can be . . . she’s poetry in motion a beautiful sight to see. As she goes about her work she has you hypnotize, mesmerized by her skills and when she stoops over to throw more oak wood on the fire, lawd have mercy, you have died and gone to BBQ heaven.
The doors of the brick pit are open now and smoke billows into the room; men try to steal a peek over the master’s shoulders looking for tips on how to up their “que” game. The pit (also the name for the brick smoker) is full. Beautiful beef briskets with dark bark can be seen along the back wall, golden brown pork ribs neatly lined in rows across the front. Homemade beef links hang like ropes across the top, while the chickens are stored in individual chard brown paper bags to catch its dripping. The smokin’ process is intricate and carefully done with perfection in the indoor brick pit. There were no burn barrels or other smokehouses out back that separated the customers from the full smoking process. It was all done in front of you subliminally making you buy more BBQ then intended.
Donna Summer is yelling from the jukebox that she needs some Hot Stuff (1979) tonight as you wait for your ticket number to be called. 2-way combos of either ribs and links or ribs and brisket with potato salad are flying out the door. Someone is asking for BBQ sauce on their potato salad and for extra white bread to sop up the sauce and then, Got to Give it Up by Marvin Gaye (1977) comes on the jukebox “Heyyy!!!”….and with the first beats everybody in the joint start rocking . . . I use to go out to parties and stand around ‘cause I was too nervous to really get down. You don’t mind the wait for your ‘que because you’re groovin’ in sync with everybody else. The maestro Barry White’s - Ecstasy (1977) is up next with his orchestra . . . with your body dancing in my mind, followed by the calm laid back Thankful for what you Got by William Devaughn (1974), . . . Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac gangsta whitewalls TV antennas in the back, you may not have a car at all, but remember brothers and sisters you can still stand tall. Just be thankful for what you've got. Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac, diamond in the back, sunroof top diggin' the scene with a gangsta lean wooh-ooh-ooh. Everybody in the joint knew the words.
The loud rapid chopping coming from the cutting board, which sits on top of a butcher block table, combined with the hum of voices talking, laughing and singing along with the music sound like back-up singers to the songs; That combined with the iron metal doors on the brick pit banging shut every time the cutter enters to get more beef or ribs, made it seem like you’d stepped into a choreographed stage production and were part of the show. There was a whole lot of rhythm going around. It was performance art at its finest!
Now on the jukebox, the Mothership has landed and the whole place is funkdafied. You are Not Just Knee Deep in a triple dose of some p-funk uncut by Parliament . . . you got ants in your pants and need to dance. Next up Aqua Boogie (1978) got you believing you can . . . dance underwater and not get wet; and finally One Nation Under a Groove – Parliament (1978) has everyone promising to . . . funk, the whole funk and nothin’ but the funk.
The classic authentic barbeque experience at black-owned BBQ joints never goes out of style: it’s in the DNA (Da Noisy Atmosphere). Mama Dorothy taught her girls that if you wanted the job done right, then move and let a woman do it. Nine Black Queens who have slayed every day to build their reputation for over 45 years of hard work. They did the same work as men; were twice as good, but got half the credit. They knew what they were up against and did not back down. Before social media, you had to work hard and consistently put out a great product to earn the title of pitmaster, now all you have to do is buy a commercial smoker, post photos, retweet and call yourself a pitmaster; Boy Bye! The family knew that odds were stacked against them, and some hoped they would fail, but they did it anyway. Just as classics will never go out of style neither will BBQ and music. Long live the 70’s and 80’s R&B, funk, disco and the history and legacy of black owned BBQ joints! #TheBBQEXPERIENCE . #BlackGirlMagic
By Shirley Everett-Dicko and Yvette Jones-Hawkins
10 years ago today. . . in remembrance of Dorothy Everett, founder of Everett and Jones Barbeque playlist. Love and miss you,
This beautiful poem was written by our long time neighbor and customer Larry Sullivan for our mother when she passed in 2007. Larry lived behind the restaurant on Fruitvale Avenue in Oakland. He would often yell his order to me from his window or over the fence if he saw me in the backyard. I loved his thoughtfulness and the poem. I share it every year on October 8th.
Update: 10/14/2019 Everett and Jones Barbeque to get plaque on 7th Street Oakland Walk of Fame
If a street can give barbeque a flavor then the secret sauce for Oakland style barbeque was 7th Street in West Oakland.
I received a tweet this past summer asking the question What BBQ story does the Bay tell? The African American roots of Oakland-style barbeque have deep cultural connections to West Oakland’s famous and historic 7th Street. If Streets could talk, West Oakland’s historic 7th Street would tell the story of Barbeque, Blues, Black Power and urban removal. If a street can give barbeque a flavor then the secret sauce for Oakland style barbeque was 7th Street.
Blues was the music they played on 7th Street and barbeque was the food they ate. Oakland-style barbeque is the Blues. Just like the Blues, American barbeque was birthed out of hard times on slave plantations, and is the pride and grit of the Black Power in the late 1960's. 7th Street to Oakland was what Beal Street is to Memphis. People went there to eat and be entertained.
Lowell Fulson was the most important figure in West Coast Blues in the 1940s and 1950s.
Blues on 7th Street Playlist
In the 1940's, 50’s and early 60s Slim Jenkins' Supper Club made 7th Street the Harlem of the West-home of West Coast blues, and Jenkins Original Bar-B-Que in the 1960’s helped define a barbeque culture and dynasty that could rival any barbeque city in America today. The Black Panther Party created a national black power movement that gave all power to the people.
The combination of all three-BBQ-Blues and a revolutionary created the smoky, charred, robust flavor which Oakland-style barbeque is known. Not only is it unique to its location, but it defines a culture. Still today it captures the hard work, funky groove and passion of 7th street.
Before urban removal swept through the Black community, barbeque could be found 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Before the Cypress Freeway cut the neighborhood in half and displaced 600 families and dozens of businesses; before the new U.S. Post Office Distribution Center demolished nearly 500 homes with a World War II surplus tank clearing 20-acres of land and destroying the customer base; before the Bay Area Rapid Transit (Bart) wiped out the remaining commercial street, 7th Street was lined on both sides with barbeque joints. Earle’s Famous Bar-B-Que was at 1483, Burk’s Seafood & Barbeque at 1479, Singer’s Bar-B-Q at 1496, Jenkins Original Barbeque at 1541, Crissie’s Barbeque Pit at 1546, and Fields Bar None Bar-B-Q at 1612.
During this time, 7th Street was filled with smoke, afros, leather trench coats, bell-bottom jeans, loud music and sharp cars. The smell in the air was of meat smokin.’ The sound of music blaring from clubs and jukeboxes was the Blues. The ladies of the night, with young sailors draped on their arms, worked on one end of the street while BBQ joints were smokin’ on the other.
Oakland-style barbeque is defined by Oakland’s Big Three- Jenkins, Flint’s and Everett and Jones-the standards-the heart and soul of this Bay Area town’s barbeque culture. But before there was a Flint’s or Everett and Jones, there was Jenkins.
The original Jenkins Barbeque, located on the corner of Henry and 7th Street, was torn down to make way for Bart, so Jenkins moved across the Street to 1660 7th Street. Jenkins Barbeque stayed open 24/7 operating 3 shifts, with lines out the door constantly. Jenkins offered take-out service; sit down dining and private dining booths in the back. Jenkins was the first barbeque restaurant to attract a diverse customer base. Jenkins took barbeque to the next level.
Jenkins Original Barbeque was owned and operated by Reverend Memphis Jenkins, the pastor of our church, King Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, located across the street from DeFremery Park in a Victorian-style home on Peralta Street in West Oakland. My dad, Reverend Cleveland Everett, founded King Chapel Missionary Baptist Church before Reverend Jenkins took over, and my mom, Dorothy Everett, was the church’s First Lady. Rev. Jenkins treated my mom like his daughter.
Many of my family members worked at Jenkins. My mother was a cook, and my brother George, sister Annie, three cousins, two aunts Nearvie and Polly, and I all worked at Jenkins’. My Aunt Nearvie tells the story of how her husband, Uncle J.C, a deacon in the church, had words with Reverend Jenkins one Sunday after service. Someone did not show up for work at the restaurant and Reverend Jenkins wanted Aunt Nearvie to go in and work the shift. Well, Uncle J.C. didn't want her to go to work and blew up at Reverend Jenkins and Uncle J.C never stepping foot in Jenkins again.
I remember going to work at Jenkins with my mom on the weekends. At the age of 13, I was only allowed to make the potato salad and season the meat that came in daily-20 cases of ribs, 10 cases of beef briskets, 10 cases of chicken. My brother's job was to stack all of the oak wood delivered to the restaurant. There was always a lot of work to do because the place stayed busy. It was weird to see and hear Rev. Jenkins, this big imposing man with a big voice, preach the gospel at church on Sunday in his suit and tie and later see him dressed down in all white, shirts, pants, apron and a paper hat at the restaurant giving orders and helping to serve hundreds of customers. He taught us a lot about the running of a barbeque business.
I remember his huge brick pit inside the restaurant that lined one wall. It was always spitting out heat and chars of wood. We had to be careful, wearing our flammable black nylon uniforms and aprons, not to get too close to the fire. I remember in the center of the serving area was a big old oak chopping block. It had 4 legs and would make a loud whack sound as the meat cleaver hit it. Whack! Whack! Whack! The electric fans were whirling overhead trying to cool down the place from the overwhelming heat produced from the customers packed inside and the fire-burning pit; you could lose 10 pounds in water weight before your shift ended.
When you work in a barbeque restaurant with an indoor wood burning pit the smell clings to you. You smelled of fire, meat, wood and BBQ sauce every day after your shift. You reeked of it; it clung to your hair, clothes and shoes. We used to joke that it takes a special person to date or marry someone who works in a barbeque pit, but we worked hard while the jukebox blasted West Coast blues.
With the destruction of the once vibrant African American community in West Oakland we moved into East Oakland and Jenkins followed. He opened on 82nd Avenue and East 14th Street. My mother eventually left Jenkins and later partnered with Willie Flintroy to lay the foundation for the first Flint’s Bar-B-Q restaurant at 66th Avenue and East 14th Street. Flint’s would become a powerhouse in Oakland’s barbeque culture. With mom’s cooking skills and recipes Flint’s dominated the Barbeque scene for many years, and when he died my mom decided it was time to open her own barbeque restaurant.
With her nine kids as her workforce, many years of experience with Reverend Jenkins and Mr. Flintroy, she was confident she could do it. My mother took an old condemned building on the corner of 92nd Avenue and East 14th Street, renovated it and in 1973 the first Everett and Jones Barbeque was born at 9211 East 14th Street in Oakland. Next door was the East Bay Dragons-the first all-black, all-Harley, all-chopper motorcycle club in Oakland. The East Bay Dragons are one of the oldest (1959) remaining black motorcycle clubs in California; and are still our brothers.
Everett and Jones Barbeque is committed to honoring the traditions and legacy of West Oakland’s historic 7th Street barbeque culture. Fun fact: Reverend Memphis Jenkins owner of Jenkins Barbeque and Harold “Slim” Jenkins, owner of the famous Slim Jenkins Supper Club-the street’s favorite night club at 1748 7th Street- were not related, but both were from Louisiana. Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party was also born in Louisiana, but moved to West Oakland as a kid. All three men- a night club owner, a preacher and a revolutionary, all from Louisiana raised the visibility and fame of West Oakland’s historic African American community on 7th Street to the national level.
From its historic beginning on 7th Street in West Oakland, the secret recipe for Oakland-style barbeque is this: take a southern, restaurant-owning pastor, a preacher’s wife, some traditional African-American southern soul food, add some West Coast Blues, mix in a Black Power Movement, season it with the scars from urban removal, mix it all together, smoke it over oak wood inside a mason-built brick pit; add a sweet, spicy tomato-base barbeque sauce and there you have it. It’s Hella Bay!
© Shirley Everett-Dicko 2017
© 7thStreetBBQ 2017
Update: 10/14/2019 Everett and Jones Barbeque to get plaque on 7th Street Oakland Walk of Fame
We are proud and honored to announce that Everett & Jones Barbeque will have a plaque on Oakland’s Walk of Fame. "The Music They Played on 7th Street, Oakland Walk of Fame" pays tribute to the great musicians, club owners, record companies, related independent businesses and others that put 7th Street on the map as a top entertainment destination. A total of 88 brass plaques — the number of keys on a piano — will be embedded into both sides of the sidewalk along 7th Street, between Center and Wood Streets. Please support and donate to the Go Fund Me/Oakland Walk Of Fame thank you in advance.
Historic fact: The West Coast headquarters of the International Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, the first national Black labor union in America was also on 7th Street at 1716.
BBQ Culture Terms:
Barbeque - barbeque is spelled “que” instead of “cue” because it is black code. Before the civil rights movement of the 1960’s and just like the old Negro Motorist Green Book Guide Black travelers knew not to stop at a joint with a sign with the word spelled “barbecue” – it was code for a white business.
Barbeque pit - can mean restaurant, joint, shack or the smoker the meat is smoked in.
BBQ - is short for barbeque
Jenkins Original Barbeque:
The sizzling story of East Bay barbecue–Oakland Tribune, by Steven Lavoie,
Gwyn Crosson, June 30, 1993
First in the BBQ Hall of Fame-Oakland Tribune, by Steven Lavoie, Gwyn Crosson, July, 1993
Everett and Jones Barbeque:
Slim Jenkins Supper Club:
Slim Jenkins Supper Club
Slim Jenkins Nightclub and Coffee Shop
Blues on 7th Street:
Blues on Seventh Street
Blues Walk of Fame
Ester's Orbit Room
History of 7th Street:
The Rise and Fall of Seventh Street in Oakland
Black Panther Party:
All Power to the People-Black Panthers at 50 Exhibits
Oakland Urban Farm
A Brief History of West Oakland
Crossroads: A Story of West Oakland
(C) 2016 Everett and Jones
All Rights Reserved