The History of Everett & Jones Barbeque’s Toy Drive
As tributes pour in for football great, Hall of Famer, John Madden who passed away, December 21, 2021, some may reflect on his contributions to the game of football on and off the field, but here at Everett & Jones Barbeque he holds a special place for a different reason. We are thankful for Madden '90. No, not the video game bearing his name that caused a craze in the gaming industry. The Madden '90 I am speaking of was the year he started the Everett & Jones Barbeque’s annual Christmas Toy Drive and Giveaway.
Annie Pearl Everett-Jones, sister #2, tells the story of how their friendship began in1990. She was sitting in her office at the Pleasanton location (Yes! There was a Pleasanton and Dublin location before it became the metropolis it is today) when Mr. Madden approached the counter asking to speak to the owner. Pearl says she came out, he introduced himself and complimented her on how much he enjoyed the food.
That conversation led to many others which included tours of his famous RV (The Madden Cruiser), meeting of his wife Virginia, family, friends, and work associates. She even visited the family home in Black Hawk and the production studio where he filmed his commercials and other productions. During one of their conversations, Mr. Madden said he wanted to buy some toys and donate them to kids for Christmas and asked if she would help? There were two stipulations: Pearl had to agree to distribute the toys to kids in the community, and he wanted to remain the secret Santa. The deal was made and the relationship between John Madden, Everett & Jones Barbeque, toys, and happy, smiling kids began.
Mr. Madden donated over 300 toys that year and each year afterwards for the next 5 years. The toys were delivered to the restaurant, by his wife and team, carefully wrapped and labeled according to age and gender. The same great coach who led the Oakland Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI, also changed the game for Everett & Jones Barbeque and their community outreach.
When it was time to throw a pass, other sisters were there to receive it. They started purchasing gifts and seeking other donors to continue what he started. Shirley Everett, sister #4, took the toy drive to the Fruitvale location in Oakland in 2005. She opened a novelty store called Santa’s Crib, adding a live Santa, and giving the kids an opportunity to take free pictures with him, elevating the game.
Mary Everett, sister #5, took the toy drive to the Berkeley location in 2010. She partnered with the Bay Area Corvette Club and added extra flair by trading in Santa's red sleigh for a shiny yellow Corvette, matching the kid’s bright smiles. Touch Down! With what John Madden started Everett & Jones Barbeque has successfully distributed over 10,000 toys to Oakland-Bay Area boys and girls ages 6 month to 16 years old since 1990.
There is no doubt John Madden will be remembered as a game-changer for many great things. It is because of him that the Oakland Raiders were Super Bowl Champs in 1977, Video gamers have enjoyed playing football games from the Madden series since 1988, and Everett & Jones Barbeque has had an annual toy drive for the past 31 years.
We are grateful for his contributions and motivated by his inspiration. We honor him and will continue to build upon his work. For more information about the annual toy drive and giveaway please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Yvette Jones-Hawkins
Santa's Christmas Wish
I remember the day I met Santa’s mama. It was in 2007, and her name was Peggy Hart. She was browsing in the Everett and Jones Barbeque's gift store, on Fruitvale Avenue in Oakland, and we started talking.
Mama Claus, whom I call Peggy, told me about her son, Shawn, whom she laughingly said had a big belly, would make a perfect Santa for our annual toy giveaway. She said Shawn often helped out at her daycare, and was good with kids. She added that he could also be available for the Pictures with Santa schedule.
You see, at the gift shop during the Christmas season, we offered the neighborhood kids free pictures with Santa, but our schedule was limited to the availability of our volunteer Santa, but that all changed when Peggy showed up. According to his mama, Shawn would be available whenever we needed him. Even Santa has to listen to his mama.
Peggy sent Shawn to meet me and she was right. He was the perfect Santa! And ever since that wonderful day, Shawn Hart has been the official Everett and Jones Barbeque Santa. For 12 years he has been dedicated to spreading joy and love to thousands of kids that have come through the Everett and Jones Toy giveaways, that is until the Covid-19 pandemic shut down everything in 2019 and 2020 forcing us to cancel the annual event.
Now COVID-19 restrictions have eased and we can resume the celebration. But where is Santa?
I was given the task of finding him, so what did I do? I called his mama, and after a wonderful trip down memory lane, she gave me his contact info.
And guess what, y'all?… Santa Claus is coming BACK to town!. Hallelujah! Amen! He will make his appearance December 18, 2021, at Everett and Jones Barbeque Berkeley location, 1955 San Pablo Avenue. Shawn is doing his part to continue the work of my sister, Mary Everett, at her Christmas toy drive and giveaway in the city of Berkeley. All children and adults must wear a mask.
9 days to go until the Dec 18, 2021 toy give away. Drop off toys at any Everett and Jones Barbeque location. Online registries are also available with delivery options:
Amazon: Mary Everett’s Christmas Toy Drive/Everett & Jones BBQ
Target: Mary Everett Christmas Toy Drive’s Charity Registry
What does Santa do on his off time, you ask?
He runs his own daycare center. That's right! Santa still serves kids.
Shawn’s daycare is called Hart 2 Heart, located at 816 56th Street, Oakland, CA 94608.
This God fearing man has given so much to the kids and the community. It's time we give back to him.
I recall one day when a lady was visiting her mother in the nursing care facility on Fruitvale Avenue and Brookdale. She saw Shawn standing across the street in full Santa dress, doing his Santa thing of waving at passing and honking cars. This lady ran across the street, and asked if he would come inside the nursing home and visit with her mother. Shawn did not hesitate. He did what was asked and followed the lady into the home. He would not miss the opportunity to spread joy and love.
We are so grateful for Shawn Hart and his willingness to help spread Christmas cheer, and his mother, Peggy for the introduction.
We have an opportunity to give Santa a Christmas gift this year. Peggy told me Shawn’s wish is to have a new play structure in the backyard for the children enrolled in his daycare and started a Go Fund Me page to make that happen. Let's make him smile this time. Here is the link: gofund.me/c74e1c8a
Ron Zeno, who had been the Children’s Fairyland Santa for 20 years, gave a Santa workshop for new Santa's; Shawn was his star student.
Remembering Mary Lou Ella Everett
Go to flip book link: Mary Everett Obituary & Photo Gallery
Celebrating the Life of
Mary L Everett
Sunrise: April 26,1956
Sunset: September 25, 2021
October 13, 2021, 11:00 a.m
Craneway Pavilion, Richmond, CA
Watch the homegoing service here
Bay Area Barbeque Hall of Fame
In celebration of our 48th anniversary (Memorial Day) and Asian American Pacific Islander Month (which ends on Memorial Day this year) I took a look back at our 20th anniversary, and how we, some Black women from Oakland, California, created the Bay Area Barbeque Hall of Fame.
The year was 1993, 28 years ago, the Everett and Jones Barbeque family- Mama Dorothy, her eight daughters, one son and son-in-law were celebrating their 20th anniversary in business with an all you can eat barbeque buffet tribute dinner for their mother Dorothy Everett.
A who's who of notable dignitaries and local celebrities were invited and/or in attendance. Award winning Tied House brewpub, the first microbrewery in Silicon Valley, was one of the sponsors. John Madden’s sons Joe and Mike acted as bartenders. Movie film producer and Fantasy Records executive Saul Zantez, who won the academy award for best picture three times, sponsored a table. Toby Gene Livingston, president of the East Bay Dragons, was there on the dinner program as a speaker. Black Baptist minister, Reverend Memphis Jenkins, and Chinese American Harry Mock were the first inductees.
I wrote about 7th Street in West Oakland and the legacy of Rev. Memphis Jenkins here.
Harry Mock, an immigrant from China, a naturalized American citizen, and a U. S. Army Corps veteran of World War II, who served from October 23, 1942 to November 30, 1945, with an honorable discharge, was a top of the line butcher and operated a meat market specializing in supplying quality meats to Bay Area barbeque legends; Jenkins’ Original Bar-B-Que, Flint’s, Everett and Jones, C&C Bar-be-que, Carmen’s and Family, etc. You are only as good as your meat and sauce!
Noted Oakland library historian Steven Lavoie, from the Oakland Tribune newspaper and Bill Mandel from the San Francisco Examiner newspaper documented this amazing event. We kicked off our heels and danced all night to the music by the Bay Area Blues Society. You see back in the day that’s how we Black folks inaugurated a BBQ Hall of Fame! That shit was the bomb! We are not your average BBQ joint!
My souvenir t-shirt from the night’s event has faded somewhat, and my souvenir booklet has BBQ stains on the back cover, all just wonderful reminders of an historic night in Oakland’s rich barbeque history. This event was one of my favorite moments celebrating cross cultures and acknowledging their important roles in Bay Area barbeque history.
Rev. Memphis Jenkins and Harry Mock worked together to create Oakland-style barbeque, and just like the two legends we have to work together to stop the hate against both communities. Black Lives Matter and we must stop Asian hate! Also, stop erasing African Americans and Asian Americans from America’s barbeque story.
Happy #AAPIHertiageMonth and Happy 48th anniversary Everett and Jones Barbeque, now cue up music, because it's our “Anniversary!” sang it Tony! Toni! Tone’! From Oakland with love.
1993 20th Anniversary Souvenir Book and Program
By Shirley Everett Dicko and Yvette Jones-Hawkins
By Shirley Everett-Dicko
Tributes poured in to honor our late sister Dorothy King Jernegan.
American Idol contestant LaToya London sang "Home" from the Broadway show Wiz.
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Home For Christmas
Listening to Blues singer Charles Brown and his song, Please Come Home For Christmas has become a tradition for our family. He’d sing to us from Thanksgiving Day throughout the Christmas holiday. If you ask any one of my cousins, they can sing the entire song, including the lead guitar interlude. It is forever seared in our brains. There was a time when we’d cover our ears trying to escape the anguish of repetition, now we cannot wait to hear it played to signify the beginning of the season, but this song will ring differently for me this year. Covid-19 has made sure of that. As I pen this, we have had over 300 thousand deaths and 17 million cases of the virus in America alone. As a result we have been asked to make some changes, and forced to create new normals and reminisce about the times before. With all of these new limitations one cannot help but wonder, exactly what it means for Christmas? How are we expected to celebrate the holiday without our families?
Christmas with no family reminds me of spending Christmas overseas while I served in the Navy. Yea, it’s Christmas, buuut...Where is my family? Where are the hundreds of pies scattered about the house? Where is the laughter and the mess? And what about Charles Brown bellowing throughout the house?
“Ring, Ding, Ring
Bells will be ringin’
The sad, sad news”
My earliest memories of Christmas are often jarred by the smell of freshly baked Sweet Potato pies and Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home For Christmas”. In my mind’s eye I see my grandma in her kitchen scraping goodness from the bottom of one of her pots, the Aunties laughing and joking with one another about who was supposed to bring what item and forgotten it, older cousins sitting in the corner conspiring about things that did not include everyone else, boy cousins huddled in the back room playing video games, younger cousins running through the house aimlessly, hyped off sugar, until someone yelled, “Sit down!” and like that command was somehow connected to their limbs, they’d instantly stop mid-stride and plop down wherever they stood. There are friends, and friends of friends entwined with the rest of us. They’d arrive with the look of uncertainty about the scene laid out before them- all of the people, food,excitement, and residue from opened gifts scattered everywhere, that was shortly replaced with one of contentment and satisfaction. My grandmother’s home was a place where friends, and friends of friends became family. All of this joyousness going on in my grandmother’s 2000 sqft home was both comfortable and cramped at the same time. If you got up from your seat, you’d best put something or someone in place to guard it or else it was surely gone at your return.
“Ohhhh, what a Christmas
To have the Blues
My baby’s gone”
It wasn’t just because of the gathering, No, there were other reasons to celebrate the day in my family-one being, the restaurants were closed and that was reason to exhale a sigh of relief, Whew! You see back then, the Pits, as we called them, were only closed two days out of the year-Thanksgiving and Christmas and we did everything we could to make those 24 hours feel like 48. Christmas was one of two times when we didn’t have to worry about what was going on at the restaurant. We didn’t need to think about who would go open the doors, lock up the doors, get supplies, wonder who was working, or didn’t show up to work, who’s making sauce, picking up meat, doing payroll, going to the bank, or making links? For two whole days we didn’t think about ribs, links, beef or chicken and that was refreshing. That day we didn’t have to be co-workers. We could just be family. And you could feel the sense of relief in the air.
“I have no friends
To wish me greeting,
But not everyone could relax that day, there were still a faithful few who were busy working away in the kitchen creating our holiday feast. Dinner most often consisted of Turkey, ham, Cornbread Dressing, Giblet Gravy (made from the chicken giblets that grandma made the restaurants save beginning in October), grandma’s special recipe of Collard greens with Cabbage and smoked turkey, Candied Yams, Auntie Angie’s Macaroni and Cheese, Auntie Helen’s Banana Pudding, Cranberry Sauce-lots of Cranberry Sauce, , and my little cousin, Auzerais’s homemade cookies and cakes. She was little-7 or 8 years old when she started baking cupcakes and cookies for us to share at Christmas. Let’s just say they were desserts that only a mother had to love and be expected to eat. But because she was so young we all encouraged her by saying they were absolutely perfect. Wink.
“Choirs will be singing,
I know everyone thinks their family is special, but mine really is. Back then I had seven aunts: Virginia, Dorothy, Shirley, Mary, Helen, Katie and Angie, and one uncle, Allen. Them along with my mother, Annie (Pearl) and father James Jones (the Jones of Everett and Jones) started a chain of restaurants named Everett & Jones Barbeque in 1973-in the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Area-in the middle of an economic recession. Someone forgot to tell my family that it is not wise to start a business in the middle of a recession, or if they did, they didn’t listen. Probably because we believe that, “all things are possible to them that believe” and are willing to work for it. So, for them, the timing was perfect, and they were right. We will be celebrating our 48th anniversary in 2021.
“Please come home for Christmas,
If not for Christmas,
by New Years night”
I am the first female grandchild and second oldest behind my cousin Lamont (Monty) who is only 5 months older, and I remember the good ole times especially around Christmas. When I was younger, one of my fondest memories was going to my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve night. It was my mother, father, brother James Jones Jr., but everyone calls him Scooter and younger sister LaShaun who we call Shaun, and me piling in the family car headed “up the hill”. The plan was for all of us,and I do mean ALL OF US (grandma’s 9 kids and their families) to spend the night on her living room floor while waiting for Santa. It was a great big Sleepover. We’d arrive in our pajamas with a pillow and sleeping bag in hand, full of the excitement that Christmas, family, and the unknown brings. I could hardly wait until everyone was there because that’s when the real fun began.
Every cousin came wearing the same smile, twinkling eye, and excitement that I had, and no one ever complained about being there. We would make our beds on the floor, pass around the bowls of snacks and goodies, and laugh and play until we were tired. The Aunties would initially hang around leading us in games and dance competitions, making us laugh so hard we’d get yelled at by grandma to keep it down. After we were yelled at a few more times, the Aunties would slowly migrate into the kitchen leaving us grandkids to entertain ourselves. It never failed, before the night ended, someone grown up would threaten to light the fireplace so Santa could not come down the chimney if we didn't go to sleep, causing us to sing in unison Noooooo!
“Friends and relations
On a few occasions they would get one of the restaurant’s employees to dress up like Santa and come through the door yelling, “Merry Christmas!” We weren’t fooled though because they always smelled of smoke-like they’d just gotten off work. “That’s Red” someone would yell, or “That’s Russell”. My mother even dressed as Santa one year. I guess she thought she could do a better fake-out job than the men, but she didn’t, because my baby sister gave it away when she started crying, “Mama”.
As the night dwindled and just as we were about to fall asleep, one of the Aunties would come through the door after working the late shift wearing a dirty apron folded down at the waist, smeared makeup, a shiny forehead, and a charred smelling afro. Nothing says Christmas in the Everett and Jones family like Charles Brown, Sweet Potato pie and a charred smelling afro.
“Sure as the stars shine above.
This is Christmas, Christmas my dear,
The time of year to be with the one you love”
The record player would sometimes shift from his Please Come Home For Christmas to Christmas Comes But Once A Year, or Merry Christmas Baby. It wasn’t Christmas unless the Blues were whining loudly through the classic solid wood stereo console radio-record player with three speeds, built in speakers with vinyl records stored underneath. BB King once said, “I could see the blues was about survival”. Maybe my grandmother was thinking about her grandmother, who was born a slave in the harshness of the southern slave trade, who couldn’t even imagine the life my grandmother was now living. Maybe she was reminiscing about growing up in Choctaw County, Alabama during the Jim Crow era. She never liked to talk about those times. When asked, she would always say, “those were terrible times''. Maybe she was thinking about leaving Alabama with her three small children for a better life in California, or how she managed to raise her nine children, after she divorced my grandfather, with limited education and very little money. She’d say, “I never thought I would make more than $2 a week”. Maybe she was thinking about the tough times in the 60’s after they assassinated many of our Black leaders. Or maybe grandma was thinking about how she managed to open a restaurant with nothing more than a small personal loan, limited line of credit, great friends, a willing heart, hard work and prayer-lots of prayer. Whatever she was thinking of while stirring them pots only added to the sacredness of the day.
“So, want you tell me,
You’ll never more roam
Christmas and New Year’s
will find you home”
My grandmother was the head Chef in Charge. She ran her kitchen crew with the same efficiency and expectations as she did her restaurants. She had 3 better-be’s:It better be clean, and it better be hot, and it better be good. She was a hard-working woman who never stopped trying to give her family a better life than the one she lived. She could always be found in the kitchen Christmas morning. One by one she would recruit helpers as they walked through the door. This wasn’t Santa’s workshop. This was Dorothy’s Den, but she operated like his workshop: somebody was chopping bell peppers, onions and celery (down south called the holy trinity), another was peeling mounds of sweet potatoes for yams and pies, while another was trying to stay on top of all the dirty dishes that were rapidly piling up.This was usually my Aunt Katie’s job. She’d fuss the whole time about being the only one washing dishes, but year after year find herself in the same position. We quickly learned that if you’re smart you would stay clear of the kitchen or they would quickly find something for you to do. The men folk were only responsible for going back and forth to the grocery store, which averaged about 6 times a day.
Grandma and her helpers managed to cook about 30 Sweet Potato pies by Christmas Eve which were strategically placed throughout the house so she could watch them. We were only allowed to eat the “ugly ones” on Christmas Eve. They were the ones that burned around the edges, or were damaged during the cooking process.
“There’ll be no more sorrow
No grief and pain
And I’ll be happy, happy once again”
As some things changed, others never did. On Christmas Eve, someone is always coming through the door with dirty aprons, smeared make-up, shiny foreheads and charred smelling afros, jerry curls, braids, dreads,wigs and weaves in this family. There are always Sweet Potato pies scattered throughout somebody’s kitchen and dining room.The last time at grandma’s house, Auntie Katie was still fussing about washing dishes, Auntie Helen was still carrying away leftovers in Tupperware dishes, The Aunties were still laughing and joking around, and kids were still running. But 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 we came over the next day. We got too big to eat around the dining room table, so they moved everyone outside underneath the carport to a 30 ft. long table. Honestly, we didn’t care where we ate as long as we ate dinner together. We outgrew the carport and moved to the restaurant in Jack London Square. Although it was closed for business, it was the only place big enough to hold us all.
As grandma got older she spent most of her time in her bedroom away from the family. She was tired a lot, she’d say. She would give instructions from her room trusting the others to carry them out and make the day great. At dinner time she would come and sit with the rest of the family for a while until it became too much. With her eyes failing her hearing never did. She would still say, “You guys are too loud!”
“Oohh, there’ll be no more sorrow
No grief and pain”
Now we’re all grown up with families of our own, and grandma is no longer with us. We don’t have my Auntie Virginia who was the oldest and Captain of the Fun Train. We don’t have Auntie Angie or her infamous macaroni and cheese, and we no longer have Auntie Katie to fuss about washing the dishes all the while still doing it . All we have left are precious memories of the past and videos my Auntie Shirley captured during those precious times. My little cousin Auzerais went to Culinary school, studied her craft and became a very successful pastry chef. She is the owner of an online pastry business called blondery.com. Her love for dessert making has taken her all over the world and brought well renowned accomplishments. My grandmother would be so proud.
This is how we spent Christmases growing up. Those were the memories I thought of while serving overseas in the Navy, and what I think of now living in North Carolina, quarantined with my husband, but away from the rest of the family. Covid-19 has closed most restaurants around us, and loved ones are no longer near but far, let me encourage you this season to remember the celebrations of Christmases past and draw on the joy they brought you. Embrace the newness that 2020 has forced upon us, “looking toward the hills from where comes your help”. Remember the loved ones who are no longer with us and what they brought into our lives . Remember Jesus and how His birth also ushered in a newness. He is truly the reason for the season. And cling to the words Charles Brown’s song,
“And, I’ll be happy, happy once again” .
from my family to yours,
Charles Brown. Please Come Home for Christmas. King Records.1960
The Bible. KJV.Mk 9:23
B.B King and David Ritz.Blues All Around Me. Harper Collins Publishing.1996
The Bible. KJV. Ps 121:1
The Rooms Where it Happened: My Grandmother’s House,
Uncle Allen, Aunties, Cousins and Grandma
By Shirley Everett-Dicko
For the first three years of our existence we were next door to greatness. Everett and Jones Barbeques’ origin story is forever entwined with the East Bay Dragons we are a product of our time and place, steeped in Black History and the Black Biker culture. We had been next door neighbors to the baddest brothers on the planet! Hell it couldn't help but rub off.
So one can imagine how hard it was to learn that the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Tobie Gene Levingston, (who had been the one and only president of the East Bay Dragons since 1959) passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday, July 7, 2020 at the age of 86 years old.
Tobie Gene and the Dragons were our first customers. It was Memorial Day weekend in 1973; the East Bay Dragons were hosting their annual Memorial Day family picnic at Robert’s Park in Oakland. Tobie Gene paid us to cook all the BBQ for the picnic that first year and for many years afterwards.
Hundreds of Black bikers from throughout California came roaring into Oakland on their motorcycles for the picnic. The motorcycles lined both sides of East 14th Street for blocks, and in front of our brand new BBQ restaurant. These bad boys Mama had warned her girls about were right outside our door. And the all black, all male, East Bay Dragons, the baddest of them all, were our next door neighbors.
It was raining men outside! There was a sea of motorcycles of every color and style lining the streets outside but you could tell the Dragons because they only rode Harley Davidsons. The Dragons, the Chosen Few, the Defiant Ones, the Outcast, the Soul Brothers, the Fresco Rattlers, the Richmond Road Runners, and other black biker clubs put on the original Oakland sideshows that weekend. The bikers were popping wheelies, burning rubber, and roaring up and down the streets of East Oakland. They were loud, black and proud.
My seven sisters, one brother and I were mesmerized and watching in awe and side-eyed, from the BBQ Pit’s bay windows. We tried our hardest to work, but were totally distracted by what was going on outside.
Tobie Gene had made mom a promise to keep the bikers on their best behavior and away from her girls...yeah right! She had forbidden me and my sisters, whose ages ranged from 13 to 26, from stepping outside the door; trying to shield us from all the male testosterone and groping eyes coming from the bikers. She was trying her best, but it was a losing battle. Bless her heart... because it wasn't the Bikers who needed watching. As soon as mom wasn’t looking, we were out the door and in the Dragon’s clubhouse, or on the back of one of their Harleys roaring up and down the streets. We were cruising all up in the Oakland hills with our new brothers, the East Bay Dragons.
All the Dragons called our mother Mom. The Dragons watched over the restaurant when we went home for the night and even escorted us to our cars after locking up. If a customer acted the fool and got out of hand... guess what? We called the Dragons and they handled the situation. They were our bodyguards and big brothers. You know we talked shit!
To show our appreciation for their protection we named a BBQ sandwich after them called the “Dragon Sandwich”. It consisted of our homemade beef links on white bread with BBQ sauce for $1 dollar, but you had to be a member of the club to get it.
For three years Everett and Jones Barbeque and the East Bay Dragons were close neighbors and family. We have fond memories with Tobie Gene and the Dragons, but also there are scary memories.
I remember the food giveaway debacle following the Patty Hearst kidnapping in 1974, when in response to the demand for her release by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) Patty’s father William Hearst arranged a food giveaway for the poor people in East Oakland, right down the street from us and the Dragons. The food giveaway turned into a riot with looting and violence, and the Dragons were right there protecting us. We were scared, but comforted by their presence standing guard outside our door. They were our heroes that day!
It was perfect until that fateful night in 1976, when everything changed. While celebrating our third year anniversary, at a house party at Mom’s house, word came that the pit was on fire. We all rushed down to the restaurant in our party dresses and stood outside crying and hugging one another as firemen worked to put out the fire. The Dragons were outside with us. The restaurant was burned and damaged beyond repair forcing us both to move.
Months later we opened up a new BBQ restaurant, one block from our original location, on the corner of 91st Avenue at 9101 East 14th Street (International Blvd). And the East Bay Dragons moved up the block also to its present location, on 87th Avenue at 8731 East 14th Street (International Blvd). Although we were no longer next door neighbors, we remained family. The Dragons still came in to get their “Dragon Sandwiches” and we still cooked for their Memorial Day picnics.
Tobie Gene was not just the President of the East Bay Dragons for 60 years; he also published a best-selling memoir in 2003 called, “Soul on Bikes” The East Bay Dragons MC and the Black Biker Set by Tobie Gene Levingston, with Keith and Kent Zimmerman. The foreword is by Ralph “Sonny” Barger of the Hells Angels MC of Oakland. To purchase the book from the Dragons click here Soul on Bikes
Our brothers, the East Bay Dragons, would be honored and enshrined forever in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC as one of the 1st all Black Biker Clubs in American history; photographed in front of another Oakland BBQ restaurant. The Dragon's are also enshrined in the Levi Strauss & Co. Museum.
Recently Jay Leno came to meet the legendary Tobie Gene and the Dragons. He brought his own motorcycle and cameras to film an episode for his Jay Leno’s Garage show on CNBC. Jay also got the chance to ride with the Dragons around town and up in the Oakland hills. The episode recently aired here is the link Jay Leno's Garage
amc show Riding with Norman Reedus and Steven Yeun join the historic black motorcycle club, the East Bay Dragons, on a ride through the streets of Oakland.
Everett and Jones Barbeque went on to accomplish some historical greats and so did Tobie Gene and the Dragons. I can picture Tobie Gene, on his Harley, riding up to the pearly gates of heaven and the gates automatically open and close behind him. Ride on Tobie Gene and rest in peace, our condolences to his family and our brothers the East Bay Dragons. Here is a link to his obituary in the East Bay Times. What a legacy!
- Mandatory Face Mask and Social Distancing -
All hail, the true King of Bay Area BBQ! Destined from birth with smoky royalty in his blood, forged by oak-burning fire, the master of pits, pretender of none, others choke on his smoke…the GOAT, Oakland’s own, Lamont Payton!
He is the first of his generation. Everett and Jones’ first BBQ baby was born with tongs in his hand and a purpose to smoke the hell out of some BBQ. He’s the Fresh Prince of the Bay Area. He was raised by his grandmother, the Queen Mother herself, Dorothy Everett– the Mother of Oakland-Style Barbeque. He was well-loved (spoiled) by his aunts and uncles who helped guide him along the way. Lamont (we call him Monty) was groomed to produce quality BBQ in the traditions of his Black ancestors.
When Everett and Jones Barbeque first opened in 1973, at 5 years old Lamont was in the background soaking up history-his story-Black history. By age 7 he was helping to make the family’s famous BBQ sauce. By the age of 10 he was helping to make their famous homemade beef links. And by his teenage years he was cooking and mastering the huge fiery brick pits. Here he is 1975 surveying his future kingdom.
But every Prodigal son has a process.
Before accepting his rightful position as the true King of BBQ, he was a child of hip hop. Lamont ran Oakland’s streets with many of hip hop’s greats like Too Short, Tupac, and Digital Underground as the undercover DJ "Under" spinnin’ records, Oakland-style, with a smokin’ beat. He found his soul in music as a DJ and tapped into its power. Behind the turntables he was the master chef of jams-chopping it up-undercover-committed to satisfying the crowd. Black BBQ has always moved to a different beat.
Black history and culture are very important to Lamont. In 2009, Lamont dusted off his DJ skills and curated a playlist for the historic 55 hours bus trip to President Barack Obama’s 1st inauguration which he helped organize. He also brought culturally revelant movies on board for the long bus ride to witness history.
Pretenders can’t touch Lamont’s skills. You can’t learn what he knows from watching Food Network and these fake BBQ competitions that have been whitewashed for public consumption, and an attempt to offer a false history of American BBQ. In fact, he is not a pitmaster (a one trick pony); he is the Pit’s master. He has mastered the brick pit, the Southern Pride smoker, the JR smoker, the cook shack smoker, the Weber smoker, the steel barrel smoker, the Kingsford smoker and any other off brand name smoker or grills. All BBQ apparatuses we have used in our 47 years history know them well. Lamont is on a whole other level!
Whenever folks need a celebrity pit’s master for a mega event they call-Lamont. He is not only the master of wheels of steels, but also the grills of steel. This human octopus can throw down and control 3 or 4 grills at once- drop it, flip it, rub it down...Oh noooo!
Lamont has played a pivotal role in Everett and Jones Barbeques’ 47 years history. With impeccable credentials and pedigree he is destined to go down in history as one of the best pit’s masters that ever came out of the Bay Area. He has helped define Oakland’s smoky and colorful place in the American BBQ story. He was born into it, trained to do it, positioned to lead it and has mastered it. M.C Hammer said it best, “Can’t touch this”! He is the man, the myth, and the legend, brilliant, full of knowledge, equipped and ready to reign. All hail! The true King of Bay Area BBQ - Yayy Area!
by Yvette Jones-Hawkins
and Shirley Everett-Dicko
This Isn't Stacking Up
This Isn't Stacking Up
The History of the Take-out BBQ Food Container
In celebration of Black History Month here is some brief barbecue history of the take-out food container. Back in the day in the early 1970’s, before microwave ovens were in every kitchen our very first barbecue container consisted of a cheap white paper plate with a torn sheet of wax paper laying on top. You got the same cheap white paper plate whether you ate it onsite or took it home. We’d buy those plates in packs of 100 and a large roll of wax paper.
Everyone's very first duty was to learn to “stack plates". You'd, pull up a stool, sit at the counter and one by one, build towers of plates. The kids like to see how high they could go before toppling over; Plate. Paper. Repeat. Mom would walk through the restaurant like an Army General, and if she caught you doing nothing she'd yell, “You could be stacking plates!” Eventually we'd get out of tearing up all of that wax paper by switching to pre-cut 10 x 10 inch sandwich sheets, but that created another problem, absorption.
Regular customers knew you had about 10, maybe 15 minutes, before the barbecue sauce soaked through the paper plate and brown paper bag. If you could not grab one of the limited counter seats to eat your ‘que onsite, your best bet was to either eat it from the hood of your car, or while sitting on the side of the street curb. If you were taking your ‘que home or back to work, regulars knew to grab a few of the free Classified Flea Market newspapers on their way out the front door to place underneath the bag. This added an extra barrier of protection between their food, clothes, and the seats of their car.
Rib Tip #1: Contrary to what you might have read BBQ served with BBQ sauce is the number one preferred way.
Customers started asking for extra BBQ sauce because of their disappearing sauce, so we switched to pre-cut aluminum foil sheets to prevent the BBQ sauce from being absorbed into the paper plate. This was in the 1980's y'all.
Rib Tip #2: 1980's more and more people and businesses started getting microwave ovens. Aluminum foil lined plates were not good-in fact, they were a hazard. Ask me, I know. . . you could not nuke your BBQ without sending sparks everywhere… That's how I know. So we changed food containers again because of the microwave oven.
By the late 1990’s, we switched again, this time to 3 compartment Styrofoam food containers, and the end of the stacking plates era was no more. Hallelujah! Let the church say, "Amen". Unfortunately that victory was short lived because in the 2000’s a ban on Styrofoam food containers was introduced in the Bay Area. Food containers now had to be either plastic or biodegradable cardboard. So the more things change, the more they stay the same. Get ready because plastic food containers will soon be banned and we will be right back to stacking plates.
By Shirley Everett-Dicko
Looking for an agent/publisher for a proposed new barbeque book from a Black woman's perspective 50 years in the game.
(C) 2016 Everett and Jones
All Rights Reserved