At Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint, creating community and trying new things are just as important as delicious burgers and craft brews.
The simple menu offered by Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint may be deceiving; the busy interior design and constant flow of customers is what truly represents the message and aesthetic of the restaurant.
Jack Brown’s is a privately-owned chain restaurant with six locations in Virginia and 14 total locations scattered throughout the south. Their menu features ten burgers, one grilled cheese, and seven burgers that rotate with the days of the week. According to their website, their menu is “purposely simple,” they “don’t try to please all tastes,” and they “choose to focus on doing one thing and doing it really well.”
When you walk into Jack Brown’s, your senses might be overwhelmed. The décor is busy and haphazard, the smell of their burgers fills the room, and customers are all talking and laughing. One specific part of the décor has more of a story than meets the eye; hundreds of stickers all around the bar, tables, and doorframe swarm the whole room. If you look closely, it becomes evident that the stickers are for different breweries.
Ray Forthuber, manager of Jack Brown’s Richmond location, thinks that the décor of the locations is always a topic of conversation. “That’s kind of the point,” he said. “They want people to talk and to have conversations, meet new people and try new beer.” Jack Brown’s encourages customers and regulars to put up their own brewery stickers, or even put up stickers from places they have traveled, said Forthuber.
Jack Brown’s dedication to consistency in their menu is also shown in the days they are open. The restaurant is open on all holidays, including New Year’s Day and even Christmas. However, there are three days a year where every location is closed to take their employees on an “employee appreciation field trip,” said Forthuber. “The company pays for the employees from every branch to go camping, hang out, eat together, and talk about fun memories.” This retreat, called “Jackelope,” is “really just a time to unwind as a company and talk to people from far away and you never get to see,” Forthuber said.
One thing that increases the difficulty of success for establishments in Virginia is the Virginia ABC Board’s regulations on the food/alcohol ratio, requiring any Virginia establishment that sells alcohol to earn a certain percentage of their monthly profits from food sales. However, Jack Brown’s uses this law as an opportunity instead of a stumbling block, partnering with local breweries and allowing customers to branch out and find new things to try.
“From the first day, Jack Brown’s has been about good beer, good food, and good people,” said Forthuber. “We have the Notch Club, which is a group of people who hang out together and have the opportunity to travel together and try new beers.” In order to be in the Notch Club, members have to try a total of 100 beers at Jack Brown’s. After you try 100 beers, you become a “Notcher” and receive a t-shirt, a picture on the wall, and a community of people who also enjoy drinking beer and having fun, Forthuber explained.
In an age of restaurants trying to match consumer demands, Jack Brown’s remains steady, said Forthuber. “We only serve burgers. We don’t have turkey burgers and we don’t add lettuce or tomatoes, and I think that alienates a lot of people,” he said. “But it’s also comforting, because customers know exactly what they are going to get when they come here. Different beers, fast service, and great burgers.”
Top Photo via Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint Richmond/Facebook