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
7th Street Oakland Walk of Fame
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 | email@example.com | 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
Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?
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!
Please Come Home For Christmas
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 -
The King of links
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.
November 11th, 2018
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
Farewell Fair Deal
By Shirley Everett-Dicko and Yvette Jones-Hawkins
Read more about Harry Mock and Fair Deal here http://www.everettandjones.com/saucy-sisters-blog/bay-area-barbeque-hall-of-fame
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, farewell-fair-deal.htmlthe 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.
Looking for an agent/publisher for a proposed new barbeque book from a Black woman's perspective 50 years in the game.
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