The po-boy is stuffed with hand-carved, slow-roasted turkey breast and cornbread dressing. And crawfish. And house-made gravy. And cranberry-satsuma sauce. All piled high on bread from Leidenheimer, the 125-year-old New Orleans bakery known for its French bread.

This magnificent work of culinary artistry, known as the Thanksgiving po-boy, is served only during November at JED's Local Po'boys, 672 Jefferson Highway.

And, while it's sure to appease your appetite, when you buy one, you're also helping out the community. The Capital Area United Way gets $1 from every one of these po-boys sold.

A walk through JED’s Local Po’boys. Staff video by Robin Miller

The specialty po-boy has become a tradition, particularly for black Friday shoppers, at the local eatery opened by Russell and Sally Davis in 2018.

"It's the perfect day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich that everybody looks forward to," said Russell Davis. "So, the day after Thanksgiving is probably the biggest day for that, because most people are out shopping very early unless they're shopping online, and then they'll come to us at about 12 or 1 o'clock and grab a Thanksgiving po-boy."

Had your fill of Thanksgiving? No worries. JED's offers lots of other New Orleans-style po-boys.

There's everything from traditional fried shrimp and roast beef and gravy, both customer favorites, to such JED's specialties as grilled shrimp with fried green tomatoes, pulled pork barbecue and pressed meatballs.

As for that Thanksgiving po-boy …

"Well, apart from putting macaroni and cheese and green beans on it, we wanted to try to put as many Thanksgiving items as we could on the sandwich without it just being too much," Russell Davis said. "We tried to kind of put everything that was on the turkey side of the plate on a sandwich, and it's become one of the most popular po-boys we offer during the year."

Other specialty po-boys are highlighted in other months, and some profits from those are also shared with charities.

JED's, named for the couple's son, is the second restaurant for the Davises, who also own Eliza, a fine-dining restaurant named for their daughter. It opened about a year before JED's.

"We wanted to do something different from Eliza," Sally Davis said. "We love New Orleans, and we wanted to honor that tradition of the po-boy and do other classics in Baton Rouge. But we also wanted to have some fun and do something different."

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The couple spent a year searching for a JED's location, once the home of Joe D's grocery store.

"We love this neighborhood in Mid City and Capitol Heights," Sally Davis said. "This is awesome with Goodwood Park right across the street. So when this spot became available, we jumped on it right away."

Local artist Ellen Ogden filled a wall with a po-boy mural, and the couple decorated other walls with historic photos from the University of New Orleans' archives of the 1929 New Orleans streetcar workers strike.

"This is where the po-boy legend was invented," said Sally Davis, pointing to a wall-size photo of a streetcar on Canal Street surrounded by a large crowd. "This was the beginning of the Great Depression, so the workers were pretty destitute. And the Martin Brothers, who owned a supermarket there, decided to help these guys. Every time they saw a striker walking by, they would say, 'Here comes a poor boy,' and they put together leftovers, roast beef, gravy debris with some potatoes, on a sandwich and would send the workers on their way with some free food. That's the story of it."

She acknowledges there's some debate about the details of how and where the first po-boys were actually created.

"But overall, that's what historians say was the beginning of the po-boy," said Sally Davis, who, like her husband, is a UNO graduate.

Now the Davises are making their own history by serving up sandwiches made with local ingredients, including Louisiana seafood.

"We're very committed to that," Russell Davis said. "We make everything from scratch from fresh ingredients daily. And we were so lucky to live in a food destination here in Louisiana. So we have access to great cooks and local food and local products."

JED's menu was scaled back slightly during the pandemic lockdown, but take-out orders continued and are now as popular as dining-in at the restaurant, and plans are to expand the menu.

"We're looking at adding po-bowls, which would be salads with all of the po-boy ingredients," Russell Davis said. "So, you'll still be getting all the good content of the po-boys without the bread."

Russell Davis also plans to add more desserts with a banana pudding and red velvet cake. And he's always collaborating with his chef and staff on new ideas for special "po-boys of the month."

"We put our heads together and listen to feedback," he said. "We haven't quite come up with what we're going to be doing in December."

But, at least for the next few days, the Thanksgiving po-boy is still going strong.


Email Robin Miller at romiller@theadvocate.com