Marianna, AR

The First Black-Owned Restaurant in the United States

New York Culture

February is the Black History Month in the United States. I love learning more about the history and culture of Black Americans, and I think there should be a mandatory class - preferably even more than one - in middle school and high school.

There are many important things to learn, including curious facts. For instance, do you know the oldest black-owned business in the United States? What is the company, and where is it located? Let me show you.

Disclaimer: This article contains mentions of business and website links but is not sponsored or affiliated with the author.

Jones' Bar-B-Q Diner

A white two-storey family home isn't much different from other houses around. The main difference is this home, located in Marianna, Arkansas, has a bar and restaurant on the first floor. As you approach it, you can read:

"Jones' Bar-B-Q Diner"

Despite the sign in the front that also reads "since 1964", the bar started operating back in 1910 and is considered the first-ever black-owned business in the country. The current owners, James and Betty Jones, transformed the first floor of their family home into a bar in 1964. However, James' grandfather started selling barbequed meat from the same house in 1910, followed by his father opening a "Hall on the Wall" and serving customers food. To this day, the couple uses James' grandfather's recipes to marinate meat and cook food. But no one knows the secret sauce recipe apart from James - not even his wife, Betty!

The Authentic Food

Jones' Bar-B-Q Bar doesn't have a website, but you can read reviews online. Yelp users praise the food and, in particular, sandwiches and slaw. Interestingly, you can also buy barbequed meat, and Jones' sells it by the pound. The Yelp photo from 2016 indicates the cost of 1 pound of meat as $7, but there is a good chance the price has changed. But the reviews from fall 2021 say the meat & slaw sandwich only costs $4, which is an excellent deal.

Customers refer to the bar's food as "authentic Arkansas food" and compliment Jones' pulled pork. It's so good; the bar received an award from the James Beard Foundation, which is the Oscar's of the restaurant business, in 2012.

The Tragedy

Unfortunately, due to a horrible fire, 70% of the cooking area of the bar has been destroyed. The good news is Jones' business survived and is operational again. According to Yelp posts, the local community came together to help James and Betty repair and re-build the bar so that everyone can enjoy their delicious food!

The only complaint customers have is that the bar opens at 7 am and closes when they run out of food, often around 9 am. If you're hoping to stop by for lunch or an evening snack, that's probably not an option. Jones' Bar-B-Q is extremely popular, and you need to wake up early and act quickly if you'd like to taste their delicious food.

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