Transitions: Robert Thomas

Robert Thomas

Date: Dec. 19

Time: 12:57 p.m.

Location: 18th Street between Nicollet and 1st Avenues
Robert Thomas’ baked beans are like nothing you’ve ever had.

Brown sugar, a little syrup, plenty of butter, onions and bell peppers, five or six different meats minced and browned just right. Cinnamon on top.

Famous in Mississippi. Nobody knows them here. Not yet.

Robert moved up in June after a decade of his friend telling him how good it is in these parts, how here a young black man without much education can get honest work.

Mississippi is back home. Minneapolis is here. So far.

Robert just got laid off from his cooking job at a nearby barbeque joint. His boss loved his food, trusted him to open the place sometimes. Then business got slow.

He’s headed to the restaurant now, hoping to score a shift or two. If he can cook and pay his bills, he’s living fine. "Four, five hundred a week, that’s good money, a blessing, man," he says.

Back home, he brings those beans to a party, folks scramble to buy the whole pan before anybody else gets a taste.

Here, he’s looking for work. And a coat and extra pairs of socks.

He can’t stand the cold.

But he loves the snow.