John Vergos was born the same year (1948) that his father Charlie Vergos opened the Rendezvous. In the mid-1950s, the Rendezvous started charcoal grilling ribs. As the story goes, the discovery of a old coal shoot in the restaurant’s basement inspired Charlie Vergos to switch from ham sandwiches to pork ribs.
Rubbed with a Greek spice mix, spritzed with a vinegar solution, the ribs are cooked over charcoal and eaten without extra barbecue sauce.
The waiters are the star. Take Big Jack Dyson. He’s been serving families, tourists, and celebrities for over forty years. He fondly remembers when Rendezvous waiters wore Nehru jackets, when founder Charlie “Big Daddy” Vergos patrolled the restaurant, and when The Rolling Stones ate their first ribs.
Want to sit at one of Big Jack’s tables? Then head down the stairs, and walk straight back. Or just ask for “Jack in the back.” This man’s popular though, so there might be a wait.
We first visited Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous in 2002 as part of our initial foray into documenting Memphis ‘cue, a project that included photographs, original essays and a smattering of oral history interviews. Visit the original Rendezvous page.