The Southern Food & Beverage Museum (SoFAB) was founded in 2004 by Elizabeth Williams, who wanted a place where the intersection between culture and food could be studied. The museum began with pop-ups around the city of New Orleans, and the first official exhibit was on the history and influences of beverages in New Orleans, created with borrowed artifacts. After the first exhibit, individuals began donating family artifacts to the museum.
In the summer of 2008, the Museum found a home in Riverwalk Marketplace, a shopping mall right on the Mississippi River in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. The museum offered educational culinary classes amongst its exhibit and library. The Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC), originally located in the Pharmacy Museum in the French Quarter, became a permanent part of SoFAB’s collection in 2014. MOTAC, which is still housed in SoFAB, features a collection of rare spirits and books, as well as examples on the cocktail’s place in history.
On September 1, 2011, the Southern Food & Beverage Museum announced it was relocating to a larger space on O. C. Haley Boulevard in historic Central City, New Orleans. The groundbreaking at the historic Dryades Market building happened on June 25, 2012. The new facility opened on September 29, 2014. SoFAB features an exhibit for each of the Southern states, the curious and winding Galerie d'Absinthe, a top of the line demonstration kitchen, and the Museum of the American Cocktail.
The National Food & Beverage Foundation encompasses the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, the Library and Archives, the Meat Lab, the National Culinary Heritage Register, and the media arm, which expanded in 2020 with the addition of the Nitty Grits podcast studio. The Boyd Library and Archives contains culinary books and papers such as historical menus and culinary worksheets. The library and archives are housed down the street from SoFAB, and are available for research to the public by appointment only. NatFAB serves to represent the food and beverage culture and history of North America and spans beyond the museum itself.