All us New Orleanians know that our festive city created that wonderful sandwich we call the Po’Boy. But we’ve probably forgotten the history behind the Crescent City’s French bread brainchild. We serve seven different Po’Boys here at the Rivershack Tavern, and our prices show that we haven’t forgotten the sandwich’s history! So read through this tasty history lesson, and then come on down to the Shack to enjoy a fresh, local Po’Boy and the best Metairie drink specials.
- Benny and Clovis Martin moved to New Orleans in the 1910s to work as streetcar conductors.
- They open Martin Brothers’ Coffee Stand in the French Market in 1922.
- On July 1, 1927, the streetcar motormen and conductors went on strike following heated contract negotiations. The strike was very violent and the public participated by not riding the streetcars.
- Many businesses helped the union men by donating goods and services.
- The Martin Brothers were one of these businesses. The brothers wrote a letter promising a free meal to members of the local union.
- The New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Society states that Bennie Martin said, “”We fed those men free of charge until the strike ended. Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming, one of us would say, ‘Here comes another poor boy.’” And thus, the Po-Boy was born.
- To be able to serve more sandwiches, the Martin Brothers’ baker recreated the French bread, making the ends uniform in length, as opposed to the typically narrowed ends of French bread.
- This new style allowed large sandwiches and the Martin Brothers’ kept the prices low, ensuring many a po’ boy during the Great Depression could afford a sandwich to eat.
We at the Shack raise our glasses to the generosity and innovation of the Martin Brothers! We sure do love the sandwiches they created.