Jay Nix, owner of Parkway Bakery & Tavern lets out a gleeful yelp when he finds out his shop has been voted No. 1 for poor boy sandwiches. His contagious excitement and passion for the industry are perhaps key ingredients to the restaurant’s success and popularity over the years.
The Mid-City based Parkway, with a sunny yellow exterior, is known for its poor boys and has been for quite some time. The Timothy family purchased the bakery in 1922; though it was closed in ’95. Shortly afterward, Nix purchased the building.
“I let it sit until 2003,” he says. “Then I finally said ‘I’m gonna go for it.’ We had a packed house the first day we were open.” Packed indeed, with locals who had waited patiently for nearly nine years. “People in their 70s, 80s, 90s and 100s were there,” recalls Nix. “They were there for the roast beef poor boys.” (Or possibly the second most popular sandwich – the shrimp poor boy.) Nix made sure to perfect the roast beef recipe and says he gets compliments that it’s “just as good if not better than before.” Nix adds that at least 50,000 of them were sold last year.
The restaurant has a universal appeal. It is decorated in old photographs, posters and bottles; some of which have been donated by customers. Though the floors were recently redone and a fresh coat of paint was added, it has a nostalgic feel and Nix believes the bar brings people back to the “early 1900s.”
The menu, though it remains classic and true to its original sandwiches, is growing. Parkway now offers sandwiches in a smaller size as well as sweet potato fries and gumbo that was first made a few months ago by Nix’s nephew, General Manager Justin Kennedy.
Parkway attracts everyone. “We see people from every walk of life every day,” he says, fondly recalling the time that a wealthy, elderly gentleman came in for lunch during the reopening. At first Nix was nervous. The man had rosy cheeks with cotton white hair, and was wearing a “three-thousand dollar suit.” But the man simply rolled up his sleeves up and ate the sandwich. The restaurant appeals to families, construction workers, “old timers” and it’s also caught on with the young crowd. “They want to know how the old timers found the place,” he laughs. “Their curiosity blew them in.”
Perhaps in addition to their curiosity, they’ve been drawn to delicious sandwiches.