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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. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Sam Nakos

Demetri Nakos arrived in Birmingham from Greece in 1955. His first job was with an uncle who ran Oakland Barbecue. There, Demetri paid his dues, making barbecue for Ensley steelworkers on the city’s west side. In 1961 Demetri found a business partner and opened El Rancho, a barbecue restaurant in Homewood. In 1972, Demetri saw another opportunity and left El Rancho to open his namesake barbecue restaurant in the same neighborhood. Demetri earned his reputation for barbecue cooked on an open pit, homemade sides, and signature fried pies. Demetri passed away in 2002. One of his sons, Sam Nakos, carries on his father’s legacy. He carries on their Greek heritage, as well, only hiring Greeks as pitmasters.

Date of interview:
2004-12-30 00:00

Jake Adam York


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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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