BALL GROUND — Though two weeks have passed since Two Brothers Bar-B-Que in Ball Ground announced it was permanently closing, owner Randy Jordan still becomes choked-up when discussing the outpouring of support his eatery received when the notice was made.
“It’s very heartwarming to read those reviews,” Jordan said, fighting back tears. “When you’re in a business like that, you don’t realize just how big a part of the community you are. It was very touching to read what people had to post. Looking back on how long we’ve been there, it was very heartwarming.”
After becoming a staple in Ball Ground for 47 years, the family-owned eatery announced Oct. 15 it was permanently shuttering its doors.
The restaurant’s Facebook page was flooded with comments following the announcement. Nearly all expressed their sadness for the restaurant closing, and many shared personal memories connected to the restaurant, including first dates with future spouses, that the restaurant had provided many with their first job or they had been customers for decades.
Jordan, who has spent decades working in the eatery, said the outpouring of support put into perspective how much the restaurant meant to the community.
“I miss my customers,” he said. “Making the decision to close, that was weighed most on me, because you know you’re probably not going to see them anymore. You don’t realize how much of a part of their lives you are until you read those reviews.”
Over the last five decades, the eatery had become known for its barbecue, Brunswick stew, homemade ice cream and antique-laden walls. And for many around Ball Ground, it was their go-to spot for a bite or where their working careers began.
Its 47 years in business was an impressive run for any restaurant, but especially given its origins.
The building that housed the restaurant had previously operated as a dry goods store owned by Jordan’s grandfather, who left it to his sons following his death in the early 1970s. Jordan’s father, Kenneth Jordan, and uncle, “Gene” Jordan, had been laid off by Lockheed Martin around 1974, and decided to convert the former feed store into a restaurant, despite their lack of experience in the industry.
“I think both of them had done cooking for family reunions, but I don’t know why in the world they chose to get in the restaurant business,” Jordan laughed. “None of them had any experience as far as I know.”
After a few years, Gene Jordan returned to work for Lockheed Martin.
“Dad always referred to him as the smart one,” Jordan laughed.
But the business remained in the family with Kenneth at the helm, and later, his son.
“I was eight years-old when it was started, and I really grew up there,” Jordan said. “There’s no part of the building or business I haven’t had a hand in. Dad was a big antique collector, and I could just about tell you where every piece came from and the story behind it.”
Jordan’s father retired in 2012, and he has been running the restaurant since.
There are countless memories for Jordan inside the restaurant’s walls. He began working there as a teen. He met his wife there. He has seen families grow and has served kids who eventually grew and brought their own children in to eat.
Jordan credits being a family-owned business and a member of a smaller community as a part of Two Brothers’ success story. He said this was especially true when the restaurant first started, when everyone knew everyone in Ball Ground, and with so few businesses in the area, community support was vital.
“The food was primary, but being a family business was a big part of it,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you how many local people worked there through the years. Me, my wife and my father, we all grew up in Ball Ground and knew the community.”
But after so many years, a lack of workers forced Jordan to make the decision to permanently close.
The business primarily hired teens, Jordan said, but over the last few years, even ahead of COVID, “that labor pool just seemed to dry up for us.”
“The business actually had done very well through COVID, but we just couldn’t get people to work,” he said. “My daughter and her husband had been working there, and it just got to the point where it was intruding into their lives more than I wanted it to. If I could have kept it open with just me and [my wife] running it, I would have.”
With the place that housed so many memories for Jordan and his family now closed, he will support his wife’s business. He doesn’t have any concrete plans as to what is next, but said it will likely not be in the restaurant industry.
“It’s been a challenge, but it’s just another chapter in life,” Jordan said.
But for all those who made Two Brothers a success, he shared his gratitude.
“I’d like to thank all the customers we’ve had through the years,” he said. “It’s truly been an honor to serve a community like that.”