Flint’s BBQ, and the Future of Black Cuisine

Flint’s BBQ and the Future of Black Cuisine

By William Edward Summers

This may not be the time or place but here goes anyway. Last night I had another dream about Flint’s BBQ. Flint’s BBQ was a junky little BBQ chain in the San Francisco East Bay cities of Oakland and Berkeley. It closed over twenty years ago, but even to this very day people all over the world still talk about Flint’s BBQ sauce. Starting around five P.M. a line would start forming at all of the Flint’s shops. I usually went to the one on Shattuck in Berkeley in the earlier evening. In the line would be thugs, prostitutes, housewives, rich people, people with  Phds,  professors, rock stars, hippies, basically any type of person you could possibly imagine. It was impossible to order for take out or reserve a place or time to pick up, the only option was to go there and wait in a line up, which could easily be forty-five minutes long. The service was brusque, the quality of the meat was fair, but the sauce was heavenly. I can’t tell you how many times I went to a rock concert only to see the band members standing in the line in Flint’s  at three in the morning after the show.

The experience at the other Flint’s shop on San Pablo in an area known as the “ho stroll” was even more extreme. First the neighbourhood was unsafe, the line up was filled with many dangerous people as well as prostitutes and petty criminals. However at 3 AM the wait here could be slightly shorter. After Flint died his children attempted to carry on but quickly ran the business into the ground. The sauce recipe has presumably been lost. recently a person I met online claimed to have reverse engineered the sauce , but is was not quite right.

In my dream, which I have a variation of perhaps twice a year, I was following up on a tip abut Flint’s having reopened. It always involves lots of walking. Last night I walked through a newly developed open air food court located in Sequoia Park in the Oakland Hills, there were even rumors that they had a “Top Dog” store there..I finally came to another BBQ that was serving meat loaf with Kraft BBQ sauce on it . One of the customers told me that Flint’s was indeed re-opening someplace across town, but they were still under construction and in the process of obtaining a plumbing permit. So no Flint’s today. I then woke up.

Now that I no longer live in the US I have discovered that it is literally impossible to get really good BBQ. I even found a place in Vancouver that was making their BBQ using Douglas Fir as their wood for smoking – unbelievable !  BBQ is a food that is actually rare. The best most authentic BBQ is made by African Americans, and  is usually found in the Southern States as far North as Missouri. Sadly, there has been a recent intense effort to re-brand BBQ as a creation of Southern Whites.   There have been several TV shows that promote this notion and attempt to completely remove BBQ from it’s African American origins. If this effort goes unopposed in another generation Soul food, including BBQ, will be said to have been created by whites, just like the claim is made today about rock and roll.

Black American cuisine is a treasure that must not be allowed to be stolen. It has tremendous potential for wealth creation all along the supply chain from production to distribution to preparation and selling to the end customer. The economic power of rare cuisine is enormous. Just consider that in 1960 sushi was considered to be fish bait by most people, but twenty years later it was an international luxury food.

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16 thoughts on “Flint’s BBQ, and the Future of Black Cuisine”

        1. There used to be two places owned by Black American’s in Paris that my brother worked at, but they’ve closed down in the last decade or so. I had some BBQ at one place in 2012 and the meat wasn’t my type of thing but the sauce was incredible!

  1. thanks for the article. i remember my experience with Flints. the sauce made it all worth it. i now live in Nebraska. no good BBQ here or in Colorado. Colorado has a Boney’s in Denver. not bad but the portions are small and the costs are high but not bad when you want to “remember”

    1. Flint’s meat was not the best. KC bbq on San Pablo had better meat. Flint’s had by far the best sauce.

    2. Real BBQ is actually quite hard to find. I am beginning to believe that only solution for most people is to buy the equipment, develop a good sauce and make it yourself.

    3. I actually was contacted by the Family that owned Flint’s. Unfortunately they have not responded to my request for the recipe yet.

  2. OMG just sitting here with my family talking about heavenly it would be to have Flints right now. I’ve never had a sauce like it. My mouth waters just thinking of it. I think Everette and Jones in Jack London Square duplicated it and came real close. I wish to God I could have the sauce I would buy cases of the sauce. Finally I wish the children had kept the legacy going. What a lost treasure ………..

  3. Hi William, thank you for your response. Question, are there any brutha lobstermen or commercial fishermen or any who own seafood businesses, your way?

    1. The two industries with which I am familiar are spot prawn fishing in Cowichan Bay. B.C. and oysters north of Qualicum Beach. B.C. Cowichan Bay is a cute, artsy fishing village. It is very friendly and low key. The area with the oysters is also really nice. Super low crime and you will be surprised at the extremely low racism. However it is 99% white. The lifestyle in this corner of Canada is fantastic, it is like going to the past in terms of how business is done. If you are over forty Qualicum Beach is a small town that is literally made for boomers. The area with Cowichan Bay is called the Cowichan valley and is like Vancouver Island’s version of Napa Valley in the late sixties.There are zero bruthas in the fishing business as far as I know. There is mind blowing salmon fishing farther north in Campbell River. Lots of opportunity in a beautiful, unspoiled environment.

  4. Wow, just came across your site while on D& H. Thanks for writing about this topic. Bar b que is something I think about often. I even thought about traveling to seek out the best bar b que places in the north & south, (actually I’ve already started about a year ago), and then recreating a place here in the NE, where I’m from.

    So much revenue lost, this is what’s going on. People don’t value themselves enough, and so their cruisine is capitalized upon, monopolized and sold back to them by others seeking profits.

    I’m still working on this Idea and hope to bring better news soon.
    I still believe many people are struck, not sure of how to be or do, besides what is familiar to them. Somewhere along this path folks got lost.

    1. Since I moved out of the US I have not been able to buy good BBQ. I once went to a place in Vancouver that used Douglas fir to smoke their meat. Can you believe it?? Most places here just roast their ribs and then add sauce. Really awful…

      It is a real disgrace that so called “Texas BBQ” by whites is being pushed into the public consciousness as the authentic, real BBQ. This is after Paula Deen was crowned the Queen of Southern food. Like I have said before one day the French Quarter, Harlem, and Caribbean locations will become Black theme parks without the Black people. The cuisine invented by our ancestors will be credited to whites, just like rock and roll was. This is a real tragedy.

      I wish you success with your plan to recreate real Southern BBQ in your location. Back in the eighties one Brutha opened a BBQ spot in Paris and became a runaway success.
      If I ever return to the US I will be taking a tour of the top ten BBQ places in the world, just like you mentioned.

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