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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

Frank Usina


Aunt Kate's on the River

Frank Usina learned about thrift—and food—from his grandmother Catherine Usina. She and her husband, Frank Andreu, moved to St. Augustine’s North Beach peninsula in the late 1880s, where they raised their family and catered parties for beachgoers. Usina’s Pavilion drew locals and visitors for the signature oyster roasts, potato salad, and pilau. One patron was Standard Oil co-founder and posh hotelier Henry Flagler, whose St. Augustine resorts brought elite, snow-struck northerners to Florida’s east coast for vacation.

Usina’s Pavilion has evolved over the years. Today, Aunt Kate’s on the River stands on the old Pavilion site after the historic structure burned in 2001. Frank built Aunt Kate’s in 2009 as a tribute to his grandmother and his family’s tenure at North Beach. With his wife, Betty, Frank still oversees a collection of North Beach businesses—including Aunt Kate’s—and supports the Guana Tolomato National Estuarine Research Reserve’s research on imperiled oyster habitat.

Date of interview:
2015-01-20

Interviewer:
Anna Hamilton

Photographer:
Anna Hamilton

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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.

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