North 24th Street has been home to many Black-owned businesses through the years. Some of them have come and gone quickly; others have lasted decades and left memories long after they’re gone. One of the latter was a 35-year-old BBQ joint. This is a history of Metoyer’s BBQ.
In the 1930s, Victor Metoyer (1899-1986) and Rosalie Metoyer (1905-1967) moved from Louisiana to Omaha. In 1958, Victor joined with Alton Goode (1897-1986) to open a barbecue restaurant at 2311 1/2 North 24th Street, located near clubs and dancehalls and in the center of North Omaha’s African American community. Focused their own “special sauce” from the Cain River region of Texas, the pair made bar-b-que together through 1966. They served KC-style ribs, brisket and chicken, made their own sausage, and more. The family’s secret recipe for Louisiana gumbo was rumored to have come down from more than a century before.
After 1966, the business was completely family-run, with four generations involved over the years.
In 1979, tragedy struck the restaurant and all of North Omaha when Raymond F. Metoyer (1928-1979) was shot and killed while working. In 1980, a 25-year-old woman named Gail Watkins (1954-2010) pleaded guilty to manslaughter. His son, Ray Metoyer, took over the restaurant then.
Another terrible incident happened in 1981 when a car drove through the front of the restaurant. Apparently the car was speeding along North 24th around 11pm on an April night when the driver lost control and smashed rear-end first into the restaurant. There were three employees but no customers in the restaurant when the car hit.
In 1985, Ray moved to Denver. Intending to keep Metoyer’s going, he told the Omaha World-Herald the family was thinking about expanding the operation with more locations. However, it was not to be, and that year the restaurant closed permanently.
Today, there is no historical plaque or other commemoration of this longtime institution in North Omaha. An institution for Omaha’s Black community from 1958 to 1985, there are many memories of the joint today, but not much more.
You Might Like…
- A History of Restaurants, Diners and Food Businesses in North Omaha
- A History of 24th Street in North Omaha
- A Tour of the 24th and Lake Historic District
- “Black Legacy Families, Installment I: The Metoyers,” NOISE in 2021.