7 Interesting Facts About the Oldest Black-Owned Restaurant in the US

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The Bureau Labor of Statistics (BLS) shows that about 20% of businesses fail within the first year of operation and 50% after five years. However, some businesses stay long enough to serve multiple generations of people and even outlive their founders.

One such business is the Jones Bar-B-Q Diner, which is thought to be the oldest black-owned restaurant in the United States. Here are some interesting facts about the Jones Bar-B-Q.

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Been Running for More Than 100 Years

Although there isn’t an exact date when the restaurant opened, sources cite 1910 as a possible start date. This means that as of 2023, the Jones Bar-B-Q is at least 113 years old. 

Details about the owner of the restaurant also remain unknown. It’s believed that multiple generations of the Jones family have managed the business, with Walter Jones cited as the first owner.

Changed Its Name

The restaurant is in downtown Marianna and was named “The Hole in the Wall.” This comes from how it served its customers early on through a hole in the wall. In 1964, it relocated to its current address and adopted the name Jones Bar-B-Q Diner.  

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Serves a Simple Menu

If you go to the Jones Bar-B-Q Diner, you’ll be served chopped pork, slaw, and a sandwich. The Jones reportedly cook their pork for around 8 to 12 hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. The pork is served in a sandwich with a layer of red vinegar sauce. Additionally, a slaw is layered on top to give the sandwich a wetter texture.

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Received One of the Most Coveted Awards in the Restaurant Business

In 2012, the Jones Bar-B-Q became the first business in Arkansas to receive recognition. It was awarded the James Beard Award by the James Beard Foundation for its efforts to preserve heritage. In 2017, it was inducted into the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame.

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Until Meat Runs Out

The Jones Bar-B-Q meat is in high demand. On a day when there are a lot of customers, it closes at 11:00 am. 

Jones Bar-B-Q Burns Down

In February 2021, a fire razed down the Jones Bar-B-Q, but firefighters were able to contain it. It started at the barbecue pit and nearly spread into the kitchen. The Jones Bar-B-Q was able to rebuild and reopen the restaurant in July of the same year.   

Speaking to “On Your Side,” the owner of the restaurant expressed gratitude for how people supported the reconstruction of the restaurant.

“To tell you the truth, they were steadily calling me when I wasn’t open, wanting to know when was I going to open. Apparently, it means a whole lot more to folks than we thought because of that fact of what they did,” Jones said.

Provides for an Intimate Dining

The Jones Bar-B-Q is a one-room restaurant that has newspaper clippings, photographs, and memorabilia from Arkansas as decorations. 

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