December 2, 2023


Professional waiter experts

Opinion: When Dennery’s came to Jackson

Alex Dennery was born on the Greek island of Skopelos in 1900 and arrived to the U.S. in 1920. After functioning at restaurants in south Florida, he moved to Jackson in 1929 with his wife, Nettie, and two-12 months-old Charles a daughter, Elaine, joined them in 1931. The diminutive Dennery shed no time in establishing himself. 

In June 1930, Alex opened the Rotisserie at 147 East Capitol Street, amongst the Heidelberg Hotel and Lamar Street. It was small and inexpensive and he in truth cooked poultry and meat on rotisseries, a curiosity at the time. It specialised in “BBQ goods accomplished on a rotisserie, Italian Spaghetti, Kansas Town Steaks, and Kosher meats.” The Rotisserie offered a thrifty breakfast: coffee, cantaloupe, hot cakes, two eggs, buttered toast, preserves, and grits for 30-five cents.   

In June 1931, Alex opened Rotisserie No. 2 on Pocahontas Road (then U.S. Freeway 49) at 5 Factors, west of the Baptist Orphanage on Woodrow Wilson.  Essentially a brick barbecue stand, it supplied curb assistance (“A contact of your horn button delivers a dainty Miss to your car”). On opening weekend Alex promised “Music by New Orleans Radio Artists.” 

The Melancholy Decade of the 1930s wore on and Alex extra out of doors eating, dancing to are living orchestras, boxing matches, outside films, and even religious providers. In 1933 Rotisserie No. 2 expanded its indoor eating space, beginning a changeover from barbecue stand to restaurant.

Alex claimed that his cafe attracted as many as 1,500 cars and trucks on some evenings. An evident overstatement, but there’s no denying No. 2’s acceptance. By decade’s conclude, the downtown Rotisserie experienced faded away.  

Including to the Rotisserie’s cachet, a Hinds County deputy publicly accused Alex of “selling much more whiskey than anyone in the condition,” a demand the genial restaurateur modestly denied. The Rotisserie endured recurring dry-point out “show raids” but remained rakishly respectable. 

Throughout the 1930s, Nettie and Alex made what turned a Southern establishment: “Come Back” salad dressing. The Rotisserie spelled its original “Kum-Back” and motivated many imitation dressings. No duplicate of the unique recipe has surfaced. 

In 1937, Alex’s more youthful brother, Nick, came to the U.S. and commenced as a Rotisserie waiter. By 1940, he had risen to cook. During the war Nick married Callie Leigh Alexander from Magee and was a associate in the Dixie Cafe in Pensacola, Florida.  

At war’s finish, the Dennerys bought the cafe and sailed to Nick’s birthplace island of Skopelos. They returned to Jackson in 1948, and Nick purchased Tom’s Sea Food stuff House on Silas Brown Road. Re-named Dennery’s Sea Foodstuff Household, it rapidly joined LeFleur’s and the Rotisserie as a Jackson dining institution. 

In the meantime, the Rotisserie experienced prospered. Alex razed “No. 2” in 1940 and erected the artwork deco structure that Jacksonians knew as the Rotisserie. Alex billed the cafe as “Famous Coastline to Coastline.” Orchestras performed for nightly dancing, and the food stuff was excellent. By the late 1940s, it was 1 of only two Jackson places to eat advisable by Duncan Hines, the other currently being LeFleur’s which opened in 1945.  

 In 1953, Alex marketed the Rotisserie to the organization that owned LeFleur’s. George M. Wilkinson, who started and ran LeFleur’s, would also oversee the Rotisserie.  

LeFleur’s moved from President Road to the I-55 frontage road north of Northside Travel in 1956. With the Wilkinson loved ones as homeowners and hosts, LeFleur’s remained there until its closing in 1985, a initial-fee eating institution to the stop. 

The pairing of LeFleur’s and the Rotisserie lasted only a couple many years right before Alex Dennery regained possession. The Rotisserie remained at its 5 Points place and continued its good food stuff and amusement.  

In January 1970, the Rotisserie ended its operate as a landmark cafe and supper club. In March, an ad available the home for lease or sale. By May possibly, very small adverts in the Clarion-Ledger classifieds declared: “The Rotisserie becoming torn down. Marketing cafe devices.” Inside of a yr, the common artwork deco developing was demolished. 

Alex and Nettie Dennery, creators of Kum-Back dressing and hosts to generations of Jacksonians, died in 1973 and 1974, respectively. Dennery’s Sea Meals Home flourished as “The Most Talked About Restaurant in Jackson.” In the 1960s, Nick Dennery obtained fame—or notoriety, perhaps—for refusing to serve everyone displaying hints of hippiedom. He turned absent author Tom Dupree and an Episcopal bishop simply because they wore beards. That apart, Nick and Callie Dennery had been well-known Jacksonians. Nick was a colonel on the staffs of four governors. 

Re-named Dennery’s Restaurant, the Sea Meals Household moved to Greymont Avenue close to the fairgrounds in 1976, two a long time in advance of Nick died. His son, John, shut the opulent cafe on 25 April 2008.  

That afternoon a sign went up: “We are retiring. Thanks for 60 many years.” The Dennery eating dynasty had finished.

William Jeanes lives in Dinsmor.