Sometimes this job hurts. Back in the summer of 2006 Ben Dukes, father of Dawnna Dukes, lent a helping hand to Katrina refugee Joseph Rogers and the two of them combined forces to open VII J’s, a soul food haven housed at the corner of Rosewood Avenue and Chicon in East Austin. We had a joyous fried chicken brunch there during the short lifespan of the restaurant, and really enjoyed the convivial atmosphere enhanced by our waitress: Dawnna Dukes! Dressed like a million bucks and whipping about the tables in a pair of skyscraper heels you’d never know she’s a mover and shaker in Austin politics.

Time crawled by and VII J’s shuttered only to see a rebirth years later when Ben Dukes got the cooking bug again and reopened the restaurant as Jr’s Texas Style Barbeque. We loved running by there for chopped brisket sandwiches for barely north of $2 but Mr. Dukes had a hard time keeping business hours so our interest faded.

Jr’s Texas Style Barbeque tried open mic nights and fish frys but nothing ever took ahold and now the restaurant has closed. We’ve seen numerous businesses come into the room over the years and expect another shortly.

Flanked by housing projects on one side and low income apartments on the other, it’s always going to be a tough row to hoe but the right team could make it blow up. We’ll keep an eye on the building and report back as warranted.

previous obituaries

and there’s no online record but we’ve got to tip the hat to Claire Osborn at the Statesman for historical narrative.

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