“it’s all about barbecue”
Barbecue is a legend unto itself in the Mississippi Delta region. Southerners, especially, take barbecue very seriously. Yet barbecue is subjective – so many aspects come into play, especially they style of barbecue you grew up eating. For Harold Jones of Marianna, it’s as much a part of his life as breathing. Jones Barbecue has been a part of the food culture in the Arkansas Delta for more than a century. The Southern Foodways Alliance, an organization “dedicated to the documentation and celebration of the diverse food cultures of the American South,” believes Jones Barbecue to be the oldest African-American owned restaurants in the South and possibly the nation. James Harold Jones, the current owner and pitmaster, says it started with his grandfather’s Uncle Joe. His grandfather and father followed Uncle Joe into the smoking business, selling barbecue out of their homes. It was Jones’s father Hubert that started the diner in 1964. Jones started working in the restaurant when he was 14. He told me the only time his father would let him skip school “was when I was working in the diner.”
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Jones Barbecue Diner
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