The traditional Louisiana style po’ boy sandwich might be available at local restaurants or bars, but Washington, D.C. boasts an entire establishment dedicated to the po’ boy: the Cajun/Creole restaurant Po Boy Jim.
A family-owned business centered in the busy H Street Corridor Northeast D.C., founder and owner Jeff Miskiri couldn’t have picked a better location to serve original po’ boys from scratch.
The AFRO spoke with Miskiri, 29, on his journey of opening Po Boy Jim in 2014 with the help of his mother, Rebecca Antoine, and cousin, Ian Reid. The pair are co-owners of business and the inspiration for its name: “Jim” is actually an abbreviation for Jeff, Ian and “mothers.”
Before opening the restaurant, Miskiri was focused on obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He had previously attended Montgomery College, Prince George’s Community College and University of Maryland University College. After realizing he wanted to open a restaurant, he combined his education and his mother and aunts’ experience in the food industry to carry out his plan.
“I always had the passion for cooking food,” he said. “I was forced to have the task and the responsibility to cook the food for everyone while my mom and her sisters were out working.”
Miskiri grew up in Takoma Park and Silver Spring, Md., and has been cooking since he was seven or eight years old. At Po Boy Jim’s, he puts his own spin on family recipes passed down from his New Orleans-born father and Guyanan mother.
“Their cuisine is similar, where they focus on spices and fresh herbs, which was passed down from my great grandfather’s side of the family,” said Miskiri. “I have some of the same Caribbean flare involved but it’s mainly just southern food.”
Since the restaurant’s opening, its growing clientele has included celebrities such as former NFL player Clinton Portis, BET President Debra L. Lee and well-known Baltimore bike rider, Chino MMG.
“It’s something that I wanted, but it’s gone above and beyond expectations,” said Misikiri. “I think that’s something that’s had to do with the characters and the owners. We’re people persons, we don’t discriminate, we wanted this place like that. And we know that it’s important for business.”
The restaurant offers more than 25 po’ boy options, including fried shrimp, oysters, roast beef, and catfish, but the most popular items are the fried shrimp po’ boy, wings, gumbo and drinks such as the DC Hurricane.
Po Boy Jim knows how to attract a good crowd and is big on catering to the community. The restaurant hosts many events, including a quarterly toy-drive called Toys for Po Boys, and gives local artists a chance to display their artwork for sale.
“I mean I’m happy, you know, but I’m not satisfied,” said Miskiri. “It’s still more work to be done. My staff has done great here so we’re just trying to move on to the next venture maybe have the opportunity to have more restaurants, employ more people and just continue to do what we’ve been doing at this establishment.”
Po Bo Jim is located at 709 H St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. For more information call 202-621-7071 or go to poboyjim.com.