Drawn by JMU alums, Jack Brown’s owners plan second Richmond eatery

Billy Jack’s Shack will take over the space formerly occupied by Torero Tapas Bar & Grill and Ibiza Nightclub in Shockoe Bottom. (J. Elias O’Neal)

The group behind a popular burger joint is preparing to double up on the Richmond market.

Mike Sabin and Aaron Ludwig, founders of Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint, are planning a Shockoe Bottom location for their other restaurant brand – Billy Jack’s Shack.

Billy Jack’s will fill 5,000 square feet at 1409 E. Cary St., space left vacant about a year ago with the closure of Torero Tapas Bar & Grill and Ibiza Night Club.

It’s the second Billy Jack’s for Sabin and Ludwig, who launched the concept in 2011 in Harrisonburg. The group also owns several Jack Brown’s locations throughout Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama, including a spot in the West End on Grove Avenue.

Jason Owenby, Billy Jack’s director of operations, said the group is targeting a late spring opening in Shockoe, where it will look to hire 30 to 40 employees.

Owenby said the decision to choose Richmond for Billy Jack’s first venture out of Harrisonburg was fueled by the area’s concentration of James Madison University alumni.

“There is a sizable JMU base in Richmond,” Owenby said. “It’s a group that is familiar with what we do, and we think they are going to be excited about us bringing this out of Harrisonburg and into Richmond.”

Owenby said Billy Jack’s Richmond menu will include its “sticky nuggs” – fried chicken nuggets tossed in a variety of house sauces that includes buffalo and chipotle lime.

Brunch is also planned, with items such as chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, and breakfast nachos – potato chips topped with sausage and bacon gravy, cheese and scrambled eggs.

Billy Jack’s Shack in Harrisonburg. (Billy Jack’s)

“Think of Billy Jack’s as Jack Brown’s on steroids,” Owenby said.

The Shockoe location will have two levels of seating on the ground floor and basement, with each level incorporating a fully stocked bar and beer taps and the basement catering to parties and corporate events.

No general contractor has been selected to renovate the space, Owenby said. Harrisonburg-based Sustainable Solutions of Virginia is handling its architectural and interior design.

Martin Blum and Annie O’Connor, brokers with Colliers International, handled the lease.

Owenby said the group looked at several locations in the Fan and Shockoe Slip, but settled on East Cary Street because of its access to nearby hotels and businesses.

“We’re encouraged by the level of activity occurring in the area, and the investments the city is making down there,” he said.

Once operational, Billy Jack’s will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to midnight Sundays.

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