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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 annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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Justin Kennedy and Jay Nix

Parkway Bakery & Tavern

For a decade, Jay Nix stored his contractor’s tools in the shell of a building he owned on Hagan Avenue that had once hosted a busy Parkway Bakery. From the time a German baker opened it in 1919 until the Timothy family closed it in 1993, Parkway had been a sandwich institution. When Jay would run into Parkway’s former customers around town, they would plead with him to reopen it.

In 2003, despite having no previous experience in food service, he did. Today, Parkway is figuratively and literally a place of nostalgia: Jay collects all manner of New Orleans memorabilia, and Parkway’s walls are his museum. In its original incarnation, Parkway had been especially revered for its roast beef po-boys. In preparation for reopening, Jay and his sisters held cook-offs until they perfected their own mother’s pot roast. That’s the recipe that Parkway’s cooks use today, roasting roughly a ton of beef a week.

Justin Kennedy, Jay’s nephew from Biloxi, Mississippi, was still a teenager during the recipe-testing phase. These days, he runs the place. Jay’s favorite po-boy (which he adamantly calls a “poor boy”) is cold ham with Swiss cheese. Justin’s is fried Gulf shrimp. Both dressed, of course.

Audio production by Thomas Walsh.

Date of interview:

Sara Roahen

Dorka Hegedus

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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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