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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: Tennessee BBQ


Frank & Eric Vernon

The Bar-B-Q Shop is a classic Memphis smokehouse. The centrally located restaurant, run by the Vernon family, dishes out the standards, while still offering enough unique twists to keep a visit (or habit) interesting. Sandwiches may be ordered on grilled Texas toast. Half-and-half ribs—a split portion of dry and wet—are here for the indecisive or the taste testers.

Mr. Frank Vernon purchased the old Memphis standard Brady & Lil’s back in 1983. That former restaurant, operating since the 1950s, was the supposed originator of the wholly local dish barbecued spaghetti, noodles simmered in sauce and pork trimmings.

The elder Vernon is in the slow process of handing the business over to his son Eric, who is undoubtedly one of the only professional restaurant barbecuers with an MBA.

We first visited the BBQ Shop in 2002 as part of our initial foray into documenting Memphis ‘cue, a project that included photographs, original essays and a smattering of oral history interviews. Visit the original BBQ Shop page.

Date of interview:
2008-07-31 00:00

Rien T. Fertel

Rien T. Fertel

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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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