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Jack Brown's a burger joint with a passion for craft beer

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Jack Brown's Chiflet burger.

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Christina Ruotolo

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Trendy Uptown Greenville is now home to a beer and burger joint, Jack Brown’s, that has taken the city by storm.

This story starts with co-founders Aaron Ludwig and Mike Sabin, who started as childhood friends and skateboarders. During the next 20-plus years, Aaron managed a ski and snowboard shop in Virginia and Mike was a chef in Miami. They combined their skills and knowledge and came up with a hip restaurant that has a laid-back chill vibe with burgers and food that for the last 12 years has been making waves in the culinary scene.

Heading up the new Greenville location at 805 Dickinson Ave., is Manager Ryan Naegel, who invites customers to come hang out with their buddies, grab their favorite beer and enjoy a meal together.

“I love our old-school vibe mixed with our new burger tastes,” Ryan says.

Open the doors and be welcomed into a quaint restaurant with funky style. Jack Brown’s gives customers a chance to leave their mark. The walls are tacked with colorful, decorated dollar bills. Look on any wall and you will find a name or a story. The music is pumping, and the energy is always at a high octane. Grab a seat at the long, welcoming bar or at one of the tables and watch staff members go to work. They take your order, pop the order card on a zip line and send it reeling to the chef, who is just as upbeat as the music playing.

The philosophy of Jack Brown’s is big flavor with no frills. The menu is short and sweet and exactly what the founders wanted. This is not a restaurant that tries to please all tastes. It simply focuses on creating great burgers.

You’re not going find a piece of lettuce, tomato, ranch dressing or any other normal topping in sight, but you will find insanely named burgers with funky toppings that may have you initially scratching your head.

Each burger has a backstory. Grab a Danny Laruso, named after the character in the movie “Karate Kid” or maybe the Ponch, named after the motorcycle cop Erik Estrada played on the television show “CHiPS.” There are other fun-made burgers with unique toppings like cream cheese, jalapeno jelly, macaroni and cheese or a variety of crunchy chips or chili.

I started my burger tour with the special weekly burger. Jack Brown’s offers a freestyle burger that changes each weekend. This week, it’s the Nauti Crab. Start with that juicy wagyu burger, spread on a creamy house-made crab dip, sliced white cheddar cheese and top with kettle cooked sea-salt chips. It combines sophisticated taste with the rich crab dip and sharp melted cheese mixed with the “nauti” flavor of the crunchy kettle chips. Freestyle burger prices range from $7.99-$8.99.

For my next burger, I tried the Greg Brady. This burger is named after the lovable character on “The Brady Bunch.” He was super cheesy in the way he acted, so this burger goes heavy on the cheesiness. The juicy burger is topped with house-made macaroni and cheese and a slice of an American-cheddar blend cheese. Then it’s topped with Martin’s barbecue potato chips. Now this one packs a cheesy punch the entire Brady bunch can get behind. Cost is $7.99.

I ended my funky burger tour with the Chiflet, which is a burger topped with Applewood smoked bacon, an egg made the way you like, and a slice of cheddar cheese. It has all the breakfast flavors we crave. I think this tasty one was my favorite with smoky bacon, savory egg, and the gooey melted cheese that hugged every curve of the luscious burger. It’s also a perfect burger for those suffering from midnight munchies. Cost is $7.99.

No matter what burger you choose, you’re getting top-notch beef and off-the-wall flavors. You can pair your burger with crispy Yukon gold crinkle fries with a side of tangy Jack Brown’s sauce (JB sauce) that is a mayo-based sauce made with onions and garlic. It’s a sexy sauce to pair with your crispy fries and unique burger. Make sure to finish your meal with a fried Oreo cookie, which is made by dipping an Oreo in pancake batter, frying it and dusting it with powdered sugar. The cookie melts into the fried dough, and one bite is all it takes to fall in love with this little sweet treat that costs $1.

Jack Brown’s is not only known for its award-winning burgers but is equally known for its extensive beer selection of 100 craft beers. The restaurant has 80 permanent beers, 20-30 can and bottled options and six available on tap. If you are a beer connoisseur, then grab a beer notch card and get the opportunity to drink 100 different types of beer. If you reach 100, you get a Notch T-shirt. Reach 1,000 and you get a burger named after you that day, along with a chance to pick what beer is served on draft that day. “Notchers” get to go on field trips or visit some of the other 11 stores scattered throughout the Southeast.

Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint is open from 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. For more information, visit www.jackbrownsjoint.com or call 689-6827.

Bone Appetit

The Humane Society of Eastern Carolina will host a Bone Appetit fundraising event from from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday at Famiglia, 740 W. Fire Tower Road, Winterville.

A percentage of all food and drink sales will be donated to HSEC. Write “for HSEC” on the receipt and alert the server.

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

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