Football and Faulkner, kudzu and coeds. Oxford, Mississippi, has as many claims to fame as it does traditions, but it’s the restaurants in this small southern town that are the glue of the local community. Places for catfish, cocktails, and conversation, restaurants here are a little bit unlike anything outsiders might be used to. And they always have been. From the midnight munchies at the Hoka Theater’s Moonlite Café, one of Willie Morris’s old haunts, to the tangy shrimp sauce at The Mansion, where Faulkner went for barbecued chicken and peach cobbler, a unique culinary—and cultural—history is still being told. The doors of these places may have closed long ago, but the memories are still very much alive.
Restaurants of Oxford’s Past
August 24, 2004
Football and Faulkner, kudzu and coeds. Oxford, Mississippi, has as many claims to fame as it does traditions, but it’s the restaurants in this small southern town that are the glue of the local community. Places for catfish, cocktails, and conversation, restaurants here are a little bit unlike anything outsiders might be used to.
The Mansion: 1942-1967
For many years, Aubrey Seay managed the cafeteria at the University of Mississippi, establishing lifelong relationships…
Starnes Catfish Place: 1978-1996
Billy Starnes was a commercial fisherman who caught everything that would brush up against his line at Sardis Lake. In…
Ron Shapiro – Moonlite Cafe at the Hoka Theater (1978-1996)
Ron Shapiro made his way to Oxford in the late 1970s, and the town hasn't been the same since. Soon after arriving, he…
Annie Isaiah – Isaiah’s Busy Bee (1971 – late 1990s)
Born in Oxford, Georgia Isaiah spent thirty years cooking for two chancellors at the University of Mississippi. When…
Charles Reagan Wilson – Isaiah’s Busy Bee Cafe (1971 – late 1990s)
Charles Reagan Wilson moved to Oxford to teach at the University of Mississippi in 1981 (he later served as the…
B&B Cafe: 1920s-late 1960s/early 1970s
Photographer Martin J. Dain visited Oxford in the early 1960s to document William Faulkner's fabled Yoknapatawpha…
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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.