Payne’s Bar-B-Q (Original) (2002) | Southern Foodways Alliance arrow left envelope headphones search facebook instagram twitter flickr menu rss play circle itunes calendar

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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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Payne’s Bar-B-Q (Original) (2002)

Essay by Joe York

Down the street the Lamar Theater is little more than a poster board for politicians. The windows are boarded up. The marquee is a mangled mess. It hasn’t seen a movie in years.

Across the street is a stand of stunted store fronts. Empty and quiet. The people passing on the sidewalk pay them no mind. Boutiques, restaurants, barber shops, whatever they were, they’re not anymore. In the middle of this block is the original Payne’s Bar-B-Q.

Started in 1972 by Horton Payne, because “he just wanted to do something on his own,” it continues to send up the smoke that signals its survival. Horton, however, has passed on. But Flora, his widow, still sells the shoulders that supported them while the others on Lamar shut their shops.

Standing behind the counter looking out over an area that now looks nothing like the garage of the Exxon it used to be, Flora speaks to the persistence of Payne’s.

“Grace. I’m gonna give the good Lord that credit.” She pauses. “Plus we still got good food.”

Payne's Bar-B-Q (Original)Payne's Bar-B-Q (Original)

Payne's Bar-B-Q (Original)Payne's Bar-B-Q (Original)

Date of interview:
2002-01-01 00:00

Joe York

Amy C. Evans

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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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