In 1973, with $700 saved and nine children to raise on her own, Dorothy Turner Everrett opened a barbeque restaurant in Oakland. In the 50 years since, Everett and Jones Barbeque has weathered thin times, family tragedies and fires to expand to multiple locations and play host to music videos and a cast of celebrity diners.
“I was told that Everett and Jones has its own unique smell,” Shirley Everett-Dicko said about the longstanding restaurant. That unique smell comes from a brick oven fueled by oak wood and filled with barbecued meats, and a half-century of family and community.
Everett and Jones family historian Everett-Dicko says this year is most important as the family celebrates the legacy of its matriarch, Turner Everett. The loss of two of her sisters, Dorothy King-Jernegan and Mary Everett in 2021 also took a toll, so this year’s comemorartions took on an added importance.
Everett-Dicko says while one large celebration is typical, having smaller jubilations over the course of a year and possibly continuing through March 2024, felt more approriate. “We said we’re taking the whole year. We made 50, so the whole year is ours,” Everett-Dicko said.
As part of the year-long celebration, family, history, beef links, brisket and barbecue sauce are all on display in honor of the 50th anniversary of Everett and Jones at an exhibit inside the Oakland Asian Cultural Center in Chinatown. “7th Street’s Secret Sauce: Celebrating Everett and Jones Barbeque’s 50-Year Legacy” is a free exhibit and open to the public, and previously toured throughout California showcasing sauces, video footage, and photos of the family. The exhibit is on display through Sept. 24.
Hosting the exhibit at the OACC highlights the connection between the Asian community and the restaurant. Harry Mock, owner of a wholesale meat company, was instrumental in supporting Everett with opening up the first restaurant and giving her the first line of credit, according to Everett-Dicko. “Every Christmas, he gave my mom a Peking duck … and mom would always send sweet potato pie to his Christmas table,” she said.
In March 2023, during Women’s History Month, the barbeque mavens kicked off the year long festivities by acknowledging other women in barbeque with an exhibit at the Joyce Gordon gallery with work from Janet Barnes, Zoe Boston, Virginia Jourdan and Bahiya Spaulding showcasing women in the kitchen. Then, later that month, ”The Queens of BBQ” discussion was held at African American Museum and Library (AAMLO), featuring a screening of historic footage and a panel discussion. The Brickhouse Gallery & Art Complex in Sacramento hosted an art exhibit with illustrations from Everett-Dicko’s proposed book, Brickhouse, in July.
History in every brick
With 50 years to draw from, there are many stories the family wants to share. The second location on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley still uses its original brick pit oven, now 49 years old. The original location, at E. 14th Street and 92nd Avenue in Oakland, burned beyond repair on the night of the third anniversary celebration. The family kept on cooking and hustling, opening a new location one block away.
Everett-Dicko recalled when singer Lou Rawls was on tour and called in an order just before closing. The owners kept their doors open for the baritone singer – but only after he sang to them over the phone to prove his identity.
Throughout the years, many other big names have come through the doors of their restaurant. Whoopi Goldberg, John Madden and Jamie Foxx have all dined at Everett and Jones, lending to the legacy of Oakland’s go-to location for barbeque. The E-40 and Too Short music video “Money Motivated” was filmed in part at the Jack London location. The pictures of many celebrities, politicians, and more line the walls of each restaurant. The exhibit at the OACC includes some of these pictures from the family archive.
Woman-led BBQ business
Everett-Dicko is also clear about sharing stories as a Black woman, in a field that is largely seen as male-dominated. She explained it was frustrating as a woman in the business to be left out of the narrative. “Your mama probably told you how to cook,” she said about how few women barbeque pitmasters are reflected in the media.
This is mostly important because the legacy of Everett and Jones began with a woman: Everett-Dicko’s mother, Dorothy Turner Everett, who migrated to California with three daughters in tow in 1952. Their late mother was a cook on 7th Street at Jenkins Bar-B-Q and later, the original Flint’s Barbeque. In the 1970s, divorced, a mother of nine children, and with $700 in her pocket, Dorothy Turner Everett opened her first restaurant next to the East Bay Dragons bike club.
Everett’s nine children, Annie, Dorothy Jr., George, Helen, Mary, Sarah, Shirley, Yolanda and son-in-law James E. Jones, have maintained the independently owned Everett and Jones, passing down barbeque recipes to the next generation of mostly women. Having a large family has been a benefit to the business, Everett-Dicko said, citing it as the reason they’ve been able to open so many restaurants because “we had the staff to go and operate another one.”
Everett and Jones now has two locations in Oakland, as well as locations in Berkeley, Antioch and Graton Casino in Santa Rosa.
While the restaurants have had their ups and downs over the years, which included experiencing two break ins during Oakland restaurant week in May 2023, there are no plans to stop. Everett-Dicko says love is what makes the business and their sauces special.
“She had a dream, she had nine kids and she just wanted to be able to feed them. So with barbeque, we would always have something to eat,” Everett-Dicko said. “And then her children, we picked up on that dream.”
“7th Street’s Secret Sauce: Celebrating Everett and Jones Barbeque’s 50-Year Legacy,” an exhibit about the legacy of Everett and Jones, is on display until September 24 at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, located at 388 Ninth St., Suite 290. Visit Everett and Jones Barbeque’s website, Instagram or Facebook for information about upcoming events.