Building Jack Brown's

What happens when you create a restaurant you are excited to hang out in?

For Aaron Ludwig and Mike Sabin, the answer is Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint. Eight years ago, the two friends felt there was no place that fit everything they wanted in a hang out spot. Unhappy with their day jobs, they set to work creating a bar they could enjoy frequenting.  At every decision point, they were thoughtful about how it would feel to use the product or be in the space. The goal was to design a place they wanted to spend time in.

One decision they made carefully was material for the bar top.

Concrete was popular then, so that came to mind first. It was important to Sabin and Ludwig that the bar be comfortable to sit at for an extended time. So, after trying to rest their arms on a concrete countertop, they moved on to other options.

A little help from the dads:

Around the same time, Aaron’s dad had a large tree cut down in his backyard. He originally wanted to make it into a picnic table, but Aaron realized that it could make an ideal bar top. They cut it with chainsaws, and the first Jack Brown’s bar top was created. Mike’s dad chipped in too. He is an avid photographer who transformed and framed a snapshot of the tree that can be found in Jack Brown’s Harrisonburg today.

How does Sustainable Solutions of Virginia fit in?

While building Billy Jack’s Wing and Draft Shack, Ludwig and Sabin met Sustainable’s co-owner, Neal Lewis. Since that time Lewis, Ludwig, and Sabin have worked together designing and installing seven Jack Brown’s throughout Virginia, Alabama, and Tennessee. As part of the expansion, it was important to them to keep the feel of the original Jack Brown’s without exactly copying every detail. Some other concepts feel diluted from the original, not Jack Brown’s.  Each Jack Brown’s location is unique, but there is no mistaking the characteristic vibe, not to mention the burger taste.

Check out the photos below for the first step in creating Jack Brown’s Bar tops!

A comfortable bar top is important to the Jack Brown’s feel. Sabin and Ludwig explored numerous options, looking for wood to replicate the Harrisonburg bar top in other locations.  They found what they were looking for locally when Neal collaborated with a nearby land-owner to source wood for various Sustainable projects. In the photos below Mike and Aaron are selecting slabs of wood as they are milled, for use in Jack Brown’s locations and a replacement bar top for Billy Jack’s. The wood was sourced locally and can be seen as the trees are felled in another blog post. It was dried in a kiln and then surfaced.

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