Farewell, Bob Kantor

It saddens me to share the news that Bob Kantor, founder of Memphis Minnie’s in San Francisco, passed away earlier this week.

I got to know Bob a little over the last few years, having shared a BBQ lunch with him and his (in his words) “shiksa” Gail, interviewed him for this website, and kept in touch from time to time by email. Many people knew Bob much better than I did, of course, but even in the short time I knew him it was obvious he was generous, kind and had a great sense of humor.  He was also a hell of a cook, and he cared a lot about barbecue traditions even as he made his name running a funky, creative but wood-fired BBQ joint in the Lower Haight.

The best tribute I can offer Bob is to make sure you’ve seen the interview he did for this website a few years back.  It was easily one of my favorite experiences running the site, and I enjoyed revisiting the interview when I heard the sad news of his death.

I understand from the general manager of Memphis Minnie’s that the plan is to keep the restaurant going to honor Bob.  I wish them well, and send my regrets to all of Bob’s family and friends, and to the many relative strangers like me who were lucky enough to spend some time with him.  May he rest in peace, and I sure hope sauce is optional in the afterlife… but sake is plentiful.

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One Response

  1. Bob was a kind and generous man, but he was unyielding on the subject of wood-cooking. As he said in your interview, if it’s not cooked with wood it isn’t barbecue. And he was cooking barbecue on Haight Street in San Francisco, not the most environmentally permissive municipality around. That he could do that proves beyond a doubt that any place that says “the city” or “the inspectors” makes them cook with gas. — well, the truth is that they’re just too lazy or cheap or ignorant to do it right.
    I teased Bob once by saying he cooked the best barbecue west of Lubbock, but the truth is that he could hold his own with some of Dixie’s best. He had finally found a good manager for Memphis Minnie’s and trusted him to uphold standards, so it sounds as if his legacy will live on. Next time I’m in the Bay Area I’ll be by to check and see.

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