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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

< Back to Oral History project: Bowens Island Restaurant


Robert Barber, owner

Bowens Island Restaurant

Robert Barber has always been connected to the restaurant business. When he was born in 1949, his grandparents were already operating Bowens Island Restaurant. As a teenager, he worked at other restaurants to earn extra money. After obtaining a law degree, however, Robert had bigger plans: He ran for public office and served in the state legislature. Still, he would make frequent visits to his see grandparents and experience Bowens Island. His attachment to the place brought him back for good in the 1980s, when his grandparents began showing their age. He helped fry shrimp and greet customers. He set up a law office in a back room. When his grandmother, May Bowen, died in 1990, he felt strongly about continuing the family tradition. He moved to the island and took the helm of the family restaurant. Since then only a few details have changed. One thing that will never change is Robert’s profound connection to the place his grandparents built—the island, the restaurant, and the state of mind.

Date of interview:
2007-01-16 00:00

Amy Evans

Amy 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.


Alex Raij Txikito

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