Foodways

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Entry Category: Foodways

Jones Bar-B-Q Diner

Jones Bar-B-Q Diner, a nationally known eatery in Marianna (Lee County), is perhaps the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Arkansas, as well as perhaps the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the South owned by a black family. In addition, it is the state’s first recipient of the James Beard Award, which many in the food community consider one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a chef or restaurant. Jones Bar-B-Q Diner has drawn barbecue enthusiasts from around the world while maintaining its important position in this rural Arkansas community. No one is sure when the restaurant first opened, but multiple generations of the Jones family have manned the pits. Some version of the diner has been serving …

Kream Kastle

The Kream Kastle is a family owned and operated restaurant located at 112 North Division Street in Blytheville (Mississippi County). It has achieved a regional and state reputation for both its food and for its history as a central meeting place in the Blytheville community and as part of the larger Delta culture. A son of first-generation Lebanese and Syrian immigrants, Steven Johns started the business in July 1952 in a small building with window service only. In its early days, the Kream Kastle was a high-volume/low-overhead hot dog stand. As the menu expanded, so did its transition to a full-fledged drive-in. Before outdoor speakers, Johns employed car hops who wore white uniforms in all weather. Later, covered parking and …

Lassis Inn

Lassis Inn is a catfish restaurant located at 518 East 27th Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), founded in about 1905 by Joe and Molassis Watson. Its first known advertising listing was in the Arkansas Gazette in 1931. Originally, Joe Watson sold sandwiches out of the back of the Watson home, and when he later added catfish to the menu, sales rapidly increased. Eventually constructing a separate building for their food business, the Watsons relocated the building in 1931 to its current location, moving it a short distance once in the 1960s to accommodate the construction of Interstate 30 near Roosevelt Road. They had apparently intended to call the establishment the Watson Inn but decided on the derivative of Molassis …

Lindsey, Donnie Lee, Sr.

Donnie Lee Lindsey, longtime bishop within the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Arkansas and noted businessman, founded the regionally famous Lindsey’s Barbecue in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2015. Donnie Lee Lindsey was born in Bluff City (Nevada County) on April 17, 1924, to Newton Lindsey and Anna Lindsey. His father was a sharecropper. By the 1930 census, he had one brother and four sisters. The family moved to the Maumelle (Pulaski County) area when Lindsey was four years old. In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Lindsey described himself as a rebellious youth who dropped out of school, only returning at age seventeen to attend the …

Lost Forty Brewing

Located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the Lost Forty Brewery was founded in 2014 by John Beachboard, Scott McGehee, Albert Braunfisch, and Russ McDonough. The micro-brewery takes its name from a forty-acre forest in Calhoun County known by locals as the “Lost Forty.” The forest’s virgin hardwood and pine trees are owned by the Potlach Corporation. In 1996, the Potlatch Corporation and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) entered a forty-year cooperative to conserve the forest. Lost Forty Brewery began raising funds for the initiative as well as other ANHC conservation and protection initiatives by forming a new non-profit, the Lost Forty Project Foundation, in partnership with the ANHC. In January 2014, Brewer, Beachboard, McDonough, and McGehee of the Yellow …

Malnutrition

Social, environmental, and political forces have influenced—and often hindered—Arkansans’ access to nutritious food. From outright hunger to nutrient-specific deficiencies like pellagra, malnutrition contributed to stereotypes about “lazy southerners” Through much of the state’s history. The American Mercury’s 1954 description of Arkansas as a land of “malnutrition, mental disability, hookworm, [and] hogs” did little to refute this stereotype. Although nutrition interventions focused heavily on the Delta area by the conclusion of the twentieth century, Arkansas as a whole received the dubious distinction as having the fifth-highest rate of food hardship in the nation of all states in 2012, according to the Food Research and Action Center. Historical Background Some of the earliest evidence of malnutrition in what is now Arkansas can be …

McClard’s Bar-B-Q

McClard’s Bar-B-Q is a restaurant located at 505 Albert Pike in Hot Springs (Garland County)which achieved national recognition not only for its food but also for the prominent political figures who visit the restaurant and extol its virtues, including former president Bill Clinton. Alex and Gladys McClard owned the Westside Tourist Court in Hot Springs in the 1920s, which was located west of the current restaurant’s location on Albert Pike. According to the official history of the restaurant, a destitute traveler could not pay the $10 he owed for his two-month stay at the tourist court. The traveler asked the McClards to accept a recipe for what he called “the world’s greatest bar-b-que sauce” in lieu of payment for the …

Minute Man

Minute Man of America was a pioneering fast-food chain founded by Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Wesley T. (Wes) Hall (1915–2002). At the height of its operation during the 1960s and 1970s, Minute Man had fifty-seven locations—some franchised, some company-owned—in Arkansas and seven surrounding states. By 2018, the only Minute Man location in operation was in El Dorado (Union County). A location in Jacksonville (Pulaski County) opened in 2020, and a food truck began operating in downtown Little Rock in 2021. The first Minute Man restaurant opened at 407 Broadway in Little Rock on May 26, 1948, as a coffee shop with twenty-four-hour service. Hall had three partners at the time: Oliver Harper, Walter Oathout, and Alton Barnett. In 1956, …

Mount Bethel Winery

Mount Bethel Winery in Altus (Franklin County) is the third oldest winery in the state and is a part of the tradition of Arkansas winemaking established by Swiss Catholic immigrants who settled in the western part of the state in the late eighteenth century. Like other wineries in Arkansas, it remains a family-owned and -operated enterprise and has won many awards for its product. Mount Bethel Winery, named after the old church and school district located there, was founded on August 8, 1956, by Eugene Post, who had earned a degree in chemistry from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and so entered the wine business with a good knowledge of fermentation and the aging of wine. Eugene …

Official State Cooking Vessel

aka: Dutch Oven
The Dutch oven was adopted as the state historic cooking vessel to indicate the significance of the vessel in the Arkansas’s history. Dutch ovens were brought into the state by the explorers and early settlers and were in wide use by the early 1800s. By the time of statehood, most homes probably had Dutch ovens in use on their fireplaces. The Dutch oven is neither a pot nor a kettle. It is a cast iron vessel that has three legs to provide stable support and to provide space under the oven for coals to heat the oven from the bottom. The oven has a flat bottom and a tight-fitting lid to contain the heated pressure in the oven; the lid …

Ohio Club

The Ohio Club at 336 Central Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County) is considered Arkansas’s oldest continually operating bar. It was founded by John “Coffee” Williams and his nephew, Sam Watt, in 1905. It became a popular watering hole and meeting place for notorious figures such as Al Capone, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, as well as local legends like Owen “Owney” Madden and Arkansas gambling czar William Stokley Jacobs. The Ohio Club has never closed its doors despite bans on both gambling and alcohol. The Ohio Club was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Hot Springs Central Avenue Historic District on June 25, 1985. In 1905, Coffee Williams and Sam Watt …

Post Familie Vineyards and Winery

Post Familie Vineyards and Winery is located on state Highway 186 in the town of Altus (Franklin County), on the old farm of Professor Joseph Bachman, a noted creator of new grape varieties. Post Familie Winery has its origins in the immigration into the area of German and Swiss Catholics in the 1880s—which made Altus one of the leading wine communities in the state by the turn of the century—and is today one of the 100 largest wineries in the nation. The great-grandfather of this branch of the Post family was Jacob Post, who made wine along with his wife, Anna. Originally, the family made wine from wild grapes as well as other fruits and berries before acquiring grape cuttings …

Prohibition

Prohibition, the effort to limit or ban the sale and consumption of alcohol, has been prevalent since Arkansas’s territorial period. The state has attempted to limit use of alcoholic beverages through legal efforts such as establishing “dry” counties, as well as through extra-legal measures such as destroying whiskey distilleries. Since achieving statehood in 1836, prohibition has consistently been a political and public health issue. As early as the 1760s, European settlers at Arkansas Post (Arkansas County) took steps to limit alcohol use by Quapaw Indians living in the area. When the area was under Spanish control, British traders successfully maneuvered to trade goods and spirits in Arkansas, plying the Quapaw with rum despite a Spanish law prohibiting the furnishing of …

Salt Making

Salt making was an enterprise carried out in Arkansas for more than 600 years, first by the prehistoric Native Americans, who began to make salt around AD 1400, during the time in which they adopted a diet rich in corn and other domesticated plants. Salt was desirable for flavoring stews and other corn dishes, and it was an important nutrient for people living in a hot climate. It may have had a number of other uses, including for rituals, but it was not commonly used by Indians then to salt meat in much the same fashion that Europeans were accustomed to. European explorers and American settlers made salt for their own uses and for sale, until good quality, commercially available …

Tamales

Tamales are found on restaurant menus and at roadside stands throughout Arkansas and have been a vibrant foodways tradition in the state for generations. This ancient food with roots in Latin America has had a presence in Arkansas and other parts of the American South since at least the early twentieth century. The familiar ingredients (meat and meal) made tamales popular, as did the practicality of being able to take a warm and filling lunch into a cotton field. There are a handful of hypotheses to help explain how and when tamales crossed the southern border into the United States to become a popular food in the South. Some think there might be a Native American connection. Others opine that …