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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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Lori DeVine

Sweet Tea Restaurant

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961, Lori DeVine, moved constantly during her childhood. Her father’s Navy career took their family from California to Guam to Key West and finally to Alabama. DeVine’s first job in the service industry was at Ollie’s Barbecue in Birmingham, Alabama. After, she worked at Captain D’s for several years. She did a brief stint at McRae’s, a local department store, but quickly returned to restaurant work.

DeVine’s father retired from the Navy and opened Connie’s Restaurant, later renamed Courtney’s, in downtown Birmingham in the 1990s. He asked her to come and help run the dining room. DeVine spent the bulk of her career there until it closed in 2010. She has worked at Sweet Tea Restaurant as a manager and server since 2011. Her job often brings her in contact with health professionals, students, business people, and visitors to the downtown hospitals. She still serves regulars from her days at Courtney’s Restaurant, once located just across the street from Sweet Tea.

Date of interview:

Michelle Little


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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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