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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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David Swett, Jr., Restaurant Owner


Swett’s has been an icon of the Nashville meat-n-three scene since 1954, but the business did not begin as a soul food restaurant. In fact, the family didn’t intend to go into the restaurant business at all when they began. Walter and Susie Swett arrived to Nashville in 1920 and opened a tavern. Their work kept them busy during dinner hours, so they took to hosting family meals with their ten children in a corner of the tavern each night. Customers couldn’t help but notice the home-cooked spread, and soon began to ask for food as often as drink. Thus, Swett’s was born. The popular meat-n-three near Fisk University is now managed by a third generation, grandson David Swett, Jr. The dining room’s always packed, the service is always friendly, but the food’s never cooked exactly the same way twice.

Date of interview:
2006-07-17 00:00

John Egerton

Jennifer Justus, 2012

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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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