Poor Boy History
C/O Frank Otillio…
In 1929 a stalemate in negotiations between the New Orleans streetcar company and its motormen and conductors ended in strike. Bennie and Clovis Martin, owners of a local sandwich shop and former streetcar conductors themselves vowed to do everything within their power to alleviate the suffering of over a thousand affected families. Bennie and Clovis did something that by today’s standards would be unthinkable, they not only fed those that were out of work but fed them free of charge throughout the duration of the strike.
Bennie Martin explained, “We fed those men free of charge until the strike ended. Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming, one of us would say, ‘Here comes another poor boy.’”
Unfortunately, traditional French bread of the time had rounded corners which led to waste when cut and portioned so the Martin brothers worked with local baker John Gendusa to develop a uniformly rectangular 40 inch loaf. This innovation allowed for consistent sandwich sizes of 10, 20 or even 40 inches in length.
The Martin brothers’ innovations and generosity throughout the great depression led to more than just the birth of the Poor Boy sandwich – Bennie and Clovis Martin (my Great Grandfather) redefined a market’s place in the community and in their descendants instilled a sense of nostalgia and a work ethic largely forgotten in time.
Bennie and Clovis will always be remembered for their part in defining an era, but with their handful of grandchildren and great grandchildren moving on to other projects, I’ve felt it’s been my calling to rekindle the legacy and deliver it to a sometimes bland and uninspired industry.
Today’s fast-paced world has given rise to fast-paced food and with our guidance and the proper blend of innovation and nostalgia we hope to raise the bar again.
Our new Poor Boy Sandwich locations will stand as more than just restaurants, but an embodiment of a spirit and time like no other in our Country’s history – a time when a restaurant stood as more than just a pillar of commerce, but a pillar of community.