When I was a teen, my grandmother introduced me to Mae Frances Nelson, a beautiful person and wonderful cook. Mrs. Nelson is known all around the South for her homemade caramel cakes and other delicious Southern foods she serves at Daily Bread Barbecue in Russellville, Alabama.
I don’t recall whether Miss Mae Frances had already opened Daily Bread Barbecue at that time in the late 1970s but my earliest memory seems to place us in a restaurant location different from where Daily Bread Barbecue has made its home for the past 25 years or more. In any event, from the late 1970s until her death in July 1982, I often joined my grandmother, Lillian, when she would say something like, “Let’s go out to Mae Frances’ for lunch.” I always had caramel cake.
A few years ago, Mrs. Nelson’s caramel cake was voted onto the 100 Foods You Must Eat Before You Die list created by the Alabama Department of Tourism.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I practiced law in Florence, Alabama. Whenever I had to be in Franklin County on business, I tried to arrange my schedule so I could have lunch at Daily Bread Barbecue. Funny thing is, I’ve never had their barbecue, at least not that I recall. I usually had the meat-and veggie lunch special or, my favorite, the BLT. And I always had caramel cake, even if I had to order a slice to go because I was too stuffed from the rest of the meal.
It wasn’t until the late 1980s that I discovered Miss Mae Frances was mother to my schoolmate, John Nelson. John was in my class and his older sister Veronica was a popular cheerleader at RHS. John has been running Daily Bread Barbecue, under his mother’s supervision, for a number of years now. So when I stop by I get to visit with John and, if I’m lucky, I get to say hello to Miss Mae Frances.
For much of the mid-1990s through the present it’s been harder to get by Daily Bread Barbecue because I’ve lived away. They’re only open Monday through Friday for breakfast and lunch (close at 2 p.m.)
Last Thursday, July 21, was one of my lucky days. BLT, caramel cake, lunch at the table with Miss Mae Frances and a nice chat catching up with John. We talked about gardening, among other things, and I returned Friday morning with about 20 ears of corn and a cantaloupe from my parents’ garden. I got a big hug, which made it all worthwhile.
It was so good to see Miss Mae Frances. She’s a dear woman and I certainly do love that caramel cake. But it’s also a way for me remember my grandmother, Lillian Aycock, who left us in July 1982.
Location, Hours & Directions to Daily Bread Barbecue305 Jackson Avenue
Russellville, AL 35653-2206 (256) 332-9621
They serve breakfast and lunch and close at 2 p.m. Red velvet cake is another favorite but I’m caramel cake all the way.
If you’re traveling north or south on US Highway 43, it’s easy to get to Daily Bread. Simply follow one of the signs to downtown. Jackson Avenue is “main street.” Daily Bread is on the south end of downtown, across the street from the Big Star grocery store. If you’re traveling west on Highway 24, simply exit off onto S. Jackson Avenue and Daily Bread will a few miles ahead on the left.
Click here for link to download a PDF of the 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die brochure created by the Alabama Department of Tourism.