Weaver D's deemed 'American Classic' by James Beard Foundation
The following is an excerpt of an interview conducted by Amy Evans
[Athens Eats/Tabasco Guardians of the Tradition] of November 20, 2006
© Southern Foodways Alliance www.southernfoodways.org
The History of Weaver D's
Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods – Athens, GA
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Date: November 20, 2006
Location: Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods – Athens, GA Interviewer:
Length: 47 minutes Transcription: Shelley Chance, ProDocs
Project: Athens Eats/ Tabasco Guardians of the Tradition
Amy Evans [AE]: This is Amy Evans for the Southern Foodways Alliance on Monday, November 20, 2006 in Athens, Georgia, with Dexter Weaver at Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods. And Mr. Weaver D., would you please state your name and also your birth date for the record, if you don’t mind?
Dexter Weaver [DW]: Dexter Weaver, November 28, 1954—November 28th; I’ve got a birthday coming up—fifty-two.
AE: Thanksgiving and a birthday, that’s a big month.
DW: Uh-huh, November 28, 1954. Uh-huh.
AE: Well happy almost birthday to you.
DW: Thank you.
AE: And you were born in Athens is that correct and grew up in Baltimore?
DW: Yes, I was born in Athens and left here at six years old and moved to Baltimore and stayed there seventeen years, moved back to Athens in December of ’78.
AE: All right. So tell me about Automatic. Tell me—tell me about that.
[Note: The image below is not part of the original article. It is shown because on the back or the Album the following statement appears:]
"Automatic for the People" is the Motto and Service Mark of Weaver D's Delicious Fine Foods in Clarke County, Georgia. A gracious thanks to Weaver D and His Great Establishment. "Automatic for the People!"
DW: Okay, my Automatic slogan—at first I didn’t have it copyrighted. It was just “Automatic for the People.” And then it was such a catchy phrase, everybody in town loved it, and I thought I needed to copyright it, you know, before you know—just it would be taken out of my hands. And then in ’92 [the rock band] REM approached me. They came down here to the restaurant and wanted to name it their next album title, and I’m like, “Oh.” When they came I really didn’t know who they were, and I thought they might have just been some salesmen, you know, coming to see me. And then when they identified their selves on who they was, and I’m like uh—. And then my attitude wasn’t you know—I wasn’t really just shining and bubbling over like I usually do because they had, you know, been burglarizing the place every night. As fast as we could put the food in, they was coming in and taking it out. [Laughs] I even had to cater out of a plant for Christmas; they came in and took all my hams [Laughs]. So it was just like, “Oh.” And then after they told me who they was and what they wanted, you know, it began to make my day. I began to smile and—and it went on from there. Then we went to the Grammy’s in ’94, which was another adventure. And then tours from all around the world came visiting me. And the Rolling Stone Magazine has said that they had got their album title from a soul food restaurant. It didn’t reveal the name; it just said a soul food restaurant, and it just went on from there.
AE: So when the guys from REM came in asked you about it, how did they explain that they wanted to use it for their album title?
DW: Well I lived next door to a member of Driving and Crying, which was another group, and some kind of way I didn’t catch on. I had went next door; the lady that cleaned up for me also cleaned for the guy—for Driving and Crying—for him and his wife—Driving and Crying. And I said, “Is the lady going to clean up for me in the morning, you in the morning, me in the afternoon or what?” So she was telling me. So she said, “Have you seen REM lately?” And I’m like, “No,” you know I just—then the next day they came to see me, and I’m like, “What?” [Surprised] So when I went home that day I said, “Amy, I am so happy.” She said, “I know, REM came to see you.” I said, “How did you know?” And that’s when she told me a member of Driving and Crying and a member of REM was up in Atlanta in Buckhead—at a bar and said, “We want to name our album Automatic for the People, but we haven’t talked to Weaver yet.” And I’m like, “What?” [Surprised] You know, so she knew, you know, and I didn’t know. But she said—she said, “Oops, let me be quiet before I the spill the beans,” you know, the first thing, so it was just so funny. And then when I went over, “I’m so happy and—.” And she said, “I know; REM came to see you.” I’m like, “How did you know?” [Laughs] So it went on like that. And it was the beginning of so much you know—the book deal, the customer flow. I heard Warner Brothers, they had a meeting explaining all about this restaurant and what all—you know, and then they had started answering the phone, “Automatic,” you know, at Warner Brothers New York and all around the world. And it was just really something, you know, the way—. And then people—tours and travelers—and I had to hire a publicist back in the back and we had a 1-800 number and it just went, you know, on and on and on and on.
AE: Where did that phrase originate and how did you come up with Automatic for the People?
DW: Okay, I used to sell leather goods on the streets here in Athens and when I was in
Baltimore, and a guy said, “If you didn’t have a product one day you would have—have it the next and I combined Automatic—. Oh, and then I worked at a fast-food chain when the lady manager over me informed me that if hourly employees didn’t report for work, then we had to work a double shift, automatic. So I had combined automatic and having that product ready—if I didn’t have it one day, I’d have it the next—meaning ready, quick, and efficient. [Laughs] So I just combined those two, and then we went on and had it copyrighted, so I don’t have a registered trademark that’s a mark of service. I have an SM—service mark—behind my Automatic for the People SM.
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"Automatic For The People"