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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

ORAL HISTORY

Desiree Robinson


Family and the restaurant Raymond Robinson built are inseparable. Four generations of Robinsons work at Cozy Corner, opened in 1977. The founder’s daughter Val Bradley oversees operations. Grandson Shun Williams not yet a teenager, works the cash register with great aplomb. And in the business’ third decade, Raymond’s widow Desiree Robinson—though never having done so before—assumed the duty of part-time pit-cook following his passing.

A well-established element of the Memphis barbecue tradition, things are nevertheless done a bit differently here. A Chicagoan, aquarium-style barbecue pit in the front of the restaurant greets customers. Sliced instead of chopped pork dresses the sandwiches and plates. Smoked turkey and barbecued Cornish hens are specialties.

The smoke, the eclectic soundtrack, the family are all testaments to Raymond Robinson’s legacy. Forsaking retirement, Mrs. Robinson vows that she will never stop working at the Cozy Corner.


pig chartWe first visited Cozy Corner Restaurant 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 Cozy Corner Restaurant page.


 

Date of interview:
2008-07-02 00:00

Interviewer:
Rien T. Fertel

Photographer:
Rien T. Fertel

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