Jefferson Street Treasures

NASHVILLE, TN — The Old and the New, the Tried and the True. When you think of Jefferson Street, in years of old, you can easily remember how it was an economic mecca for the African American community. From the 1940’s to the 1960’s, Jefferson Street was a financial machine, filled with stores, night clubs, funeral homes, banks, and so much more. Additionally associated streets in the North Nashville area were full of activity that spoke to economic sustainability.

There is no secret Interstate 40 divided the com- munity and left it in peril, however some businesses re- mained vigilant. One such strong hold in the community is Mary’s Old Fashioned Pit Bar-B-Que. Started by Mrs. Mary Seals and Willis Childress, called “Stoop” and Big Boone, in 1962, it continues to be a significant Bar-B-Que restaurant in the North Nashville area.

Councilman Ed Kindall, District 21, said, Mary’s was ‘the place’ during the day and had the best barbeque ever. I remember driving or walking up to the window, mak- ing my order, standing around talking until the order was complete. It continues to be a great bar-be-que place on Jefferson Street.”

Featured in the Southern Living 50th Anniversary edition, Mary’s was listed as one of the best bar-be-que joints in the South.

Mary’s is featured in several books by various Nash- ville authors, including Ed Kindall and Fisk Librarian Jesse Carney Smith. The fable from students at nearby campuses, TSU, Fisk and Meharry, as well as American Baptist College, was if you got quite spirited, Mary’s Bar- beque would sober you up and you could return to the dormitory in control.

Mary’s had a unique blend, and when the firewood would get going, the smell of barbeque would fill the streets. That smell would draw you to the restaurant and you had to have it.

Grand daughter of Mary, Katresa Fizer, is now the keeper of the flame. Her motto: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it—has kept this establishment going.” There have many changes to the restaurant throughout the years, such as the addition of the dine-in area, as well as an inside widow for ordering.

Pastor Howard Jones, senior pastor of Fairfield M. B. Church, which opened Kingdom Café & Grill on Jeffer- son Street in 2016, an outreach ministry of the Church says, “It is important that we continue to support our es-

tablished restaurants on Jefferson Street as new ones are developed. There is room for all of us to thrive and have economic empowerment.”

Katresa says, “We are continuously making improve- ments to the menu, as well as the establishment itself. Our patrons have supported us throughout the years and we want to make sure we give them the quality of food and customer service they deserve.” She explained she wants to honor her Grandmother and be a great business woman with this enterprise. “Why would I work some- where else, when I have a million dollar business right here on Historic Jefferson Street,” she added.

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