Most Southern towns used to boast a boardinghouse where you could find a simple, quiet room and a communal dining room that offered at least two hearty meals a day. Boardinghouse food was de rigueur daily fare for locals, among them young, working class laborers, schoolteachers, bankers, washerwomen and middle-class merchants alike. In 1943, a young Sema Wilkes took over a boardinghouse in historic downtown Savannah. Her goal was modest: to make a living by offering comfortable lodging and homestyle Southern cooking served family style in the downstairs dining room. Mrs. Wilkes picked up where the previous proprietor left off, cultivating relationships with nearby farmers who dug sweet potatoes for her in the fall and shelled whippoorwhill peas in the summer.
A line gathers each morning at
107 West Jones Street. At 11
o'clock, the doors of 107 open
and the lunch crowd finds seats
at one of the large tables-for-ten
shared by strangers. Tabletops
are crowded with platters of
fried chicken and cornbread
dressing, sweet potato souffle,
black-eyed peas, okra gumbo,
corn muffins and biscuits. The
menu changes daily so regulars
can have something different
every day. Stop by and enjoy the
special pleasure of a meal shared
with neighbors and strangers.
Mrs. Wilkes is where President Obama eats when he visits Savannah!