If you like barbeque — particularly beef brisket — then strap on a bib, grab a fork and knife, and head to the just opened Captain Jacks for some of the best tasting beef ‘cue you’ll put in your mouth outside of Texas.
Sensing Amelia island’s growing appetite for barbecue and deep south tastes, Jon Anderson, Fernandina Beach High School’s affable basketball coach and owner of downtown’s Arte’s, has added a barbecue behemoth to the mix of cue joints popping up on Amelia Island. Captain Jacks Smokehouse is a 200-seat shrine to all things barbecued that opened to the public yesterday, Thursday, June 13.
Captain Jacks is located in Gateway Plaza in the vacated Barbara Jean’s location, a few hundred yards after crossing Shave Bridge onto the island. Just roll down the window and follow the mouth-watering aroma. It opens at 11 a.m. daily, and closes at 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Call ‘em at 904/310-3611.
Linda and I sampled some of the brisket and ribs that Captain Jack Fallin pulled out of his special 12-foot smoker and that convinced us we’ll definitely be back for more.
This is not one of those poofy fancy-pants tony restaurants that features barbecue with blueberries in its sauce, coffee grounds in the rub, tofu on the side, plates garnished with parsley or other “chef-a-fied” touches. No siree Bob, this is an old-fashioned southern BBQ joint that serves huge plastic cups of sweet tea and also offers cold beer and cocktails. I didn’t meet a waitress named Jolene or Dixie that called me “honey” or “sugar” but the ones that served me were just as nice. It’s not run by hard core southern Baptists, but the just as “good” folks that run it know their way around a smoker just as well as the covered-dish church crowd. The barbecue we ate came in platters lined with butcher paper and condiments on the table included a variety of squeeze-bottle sauces: tangy (my favorite), honey, sweet and vinegar. Ketchup was the fourth staple on offer.
The only things missing were fat slices of sweet raw onion and whole jalapeno pepper, but, I get it, this ain’t Texas.
Captain Jack, who received his “Captain’s” commission from an uncle when he was a toddler, was introduced to Jon by former Fernandina Beach Parks & Recreation Department Manager Jay Robertson, a BBQ fanatic who now runs the Parks & Rec organizations for the town of Waycross, GA. Jack owned two BBQ joints in nearby Tifton — Hawkeye BBQ and 41 & Main BBQ. Jay conducts the annual Butts & Brisket BBQ competition each October on Main Beach, an event Jack won in 2017. Sitting above the restaurant’s salad bar is an array of trophies and plaques attesting to Jack’s BBQ skills including one proclaiming him the 2017 “Georgia State Brisket Champ.”
Jack’s wife Sandi is the place’s operations manager and Charles Hutton, the general manager, but the joint’s namesake, Jack, is the “why we’re here” guy. Pausing to read all the trophy inscriptions would have the salad bar line backed up to Shave Bridge as it appears he hasn’t lost a competition since he started competing in 2006.
I ordered the brisket with sides of Lexington Red Slaw and potato salad while Linda opted for the St. Louis Ribs, with sweet potato. We also sampled the smoked Gouda Mac ‘n Cheese bites, a giant pretzel called “The twist” and pimento cheese & homemade pork rinds.
Our opinion on all of this is that the brisket is outstanding; the ribs “fall-off-the-bone” delicious; the tangy no-mayonnaise Carolina slaw one we’ll order every time; the sweet potato very good; the pimento cheese & homemade pork rinds an interesting and unusual appetizer; and the pretzel just another expensive eight dollar “so whater” that can be picked up at the Salty Pelican or the Tavern, but nothing to write home about.
I’m not a dessert person but Linda couldn’t resist the “House made Nana Pudding” that was served in what looked like a large Mason jar. She offered me a few spoonsful and I admit it was really good.
I wanted to try the “country link sausage” that I loved when we lived in Texas, but it wasn’t available when we arrived, so I’ll be back to sample it.
The menu is extensive with sampler plates that include pork belly, something I thought at one time was only offered on the Chicago Board of Trade commodity market. There’s also half a chicken, pulled pork for all those southern traditionalists, hamburgers, steaks, shrimp & grits, salmon, a variety of sandwiches, wings and even fried pickle spears. You can also order chili and Brunswick Stew and pig out at the salad bar.
I think some items like the pretzel are a bit pricy while others make up for it.
The atmosphere is no longer Barbra Jean’s mom’s cozy kitchen corner, but that of a rustic BBQ joint. There’s a
snug 9-barstool bar, with three high-tops seating four each and a couple of TVs for sports fans. The back deck features gorgeous views overlooking the Amelia River and lots of tables. I wasn’t told if the gator that used to slide up to the deck to demand his share of eats is still around, but there is a sign outside that says “Don’t feed the animals” so that’s a possibility.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Speaking Of BBQ: Until about four years ago Amelia Island was a barren barbecue backwater with downtown’s South 3rd Street’s Happy Tomato, the only place to grab ribs, pork or chicken ‘cue along with the formula cooking Sonny’s chain site on South 8th. However, the affable Richard Bolton, who runs that popular Happy Tomato, closes daily at 4:30 leaving barbecue aficionados lurching in the dark for pulled, sliced, chopped or any other ‘cue after that. Sonny’s folded its tent and left town a couple of years ago.
There’s Willie Jewel’s and Woody’s, both good local chains, but they’re Over The Bridge on State Road 200.
Around 2015 Kenny Gilbert opened Gilberts on South 8th Street complete with outside smokers, tables and chairs and to-go boxes. I haven’t seen the outside tables in a couple of years but they still do brisket, pork and fowl for a loyal following inside, but the fare is somewhat pricy and the atmosphere not what I consider barbecuish.
After that, two others popped up in quick succession including Mike Stringer’s State Line BBQ, next to Flash Foods, at the corner of Sadler Road and Will Hardee that caters mostly to take out orders. It was oinkers only at Mike’s place until recently when he finally relented and began serving brisket. I have no complaints, as everything I’ve eaten there is very good. Since I haven’t tried Mike’s brisket this jury’s still out on it.
In July 2017 Island Barbeque, featuring popular pit master Rodney Stubbs, opened in a 30-seat strip mall location at 1925 South 14th Street featuring brisket, pork and chicken. Rodney has moved on and may be back I’m told, but the recipe and taste remain as does the outside smoker with the owners, who recently added fried chicken (some of the best I’ve tasted locally), fried chicken livers and gizzards, and a meat-and-three buffet, interesting, economical and very deep south menu items. They also serve breakfast. You can go wrong in this place.
Have I missed anybody?
“Hey Sailor, Gonna Be In Town Long?” Tomorrow, Saturday, June 15, some 65 kayakers, paddle boaters, canoeist, etc. resembling a mini Dunkirk-like evacuation, will arrive at the Fernandina Beach Marina between 11a.m. and 12:30 p.m. after paddling some 10 miles from St. Marys, GA to raise money for the prevention of suicide and the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veteran and active military members.
Come out and join hundreds of others who will welcome the group and then celebrate with beers, food, music etc. at the South 3rd Street’s Green Turtle and the Florida House’s Leddy’s Porch. There will also be a drawing for a monetary prize and a check presented to “Fight Oar Die” representative Chris Kuntz, a veteran who rowed across the Atlantic to raise money for this cause in the original event. The festivities will go on from 2-5 p.m. with more to take place until 10 p.m. at Main Beach.
Local Amelia Island military vets Bill Cimino (US Army) and Paul Lore (US Marine Corps) – teamed up to create this local “Cross the Line” event that attracted participants that coughed up a $50 entry fee each that went to the cause.
“Money from the event goes toward helping raise awareness of the severe mental issues many military members face after they return home from combat deployment – things like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and reintegration issues,” explains Cimino, a former U.S. Army Ranger Captain.
More than 50 local businesses and individuals chipped in to support the cause by donating money, time and materials to the charitable effort. These include Amelia River Cruises, the downtown Hampton Inn & Suites, MacGraphics Printing & Design. Support boats and volunteer EMT’s from the Fernandina Beach Fire and Nassau County Fire Departments, among others also donated their time.
Study This: Despite the fact that taxpayers stand to lose more than $31.5 billion on the federally funded student loan program over the next decade it appears that our pain is the universities gain as tuition in institutions of higher education soared by 1,275 percent since 1978 and is still going up. According to the Wall Street Journal borrowers currently owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loans with 1,400 of them defaulting daily. Not only are they broke, but many of them dropped out and are now burdened with massive debt and no degree while 40 percent of those with pricey degrees are working in jobs that don’t even require one. In a nutshell the universities are raking it in while ripping its customers off with worthless or no diplomas.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that a high school degree was universally required, and college attendance started growing. However, many employers are discovering that many of these degrees aren’t worth a hoot. Companies such as IBM, Google, and Apple no longer require applicants to have a college degree.
And it’s getting worse as Ann Coulter points out in Resistance is Futile: How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind: “Ever since Donald Trump’s election, liberals have lost their minds. But there’s no padded room to keep them contained! Instead, these violent, masked lunatics have taken over college campuses, where young Americans are turned into automaton leftists just like themselves.”
Obviously medical degrees are required, but at the current rate the only other workplaces that will require a degree are universities, who hire folks they’ve produced who can’t land jobs elsewhere.
Things I Wish I’d Said: “I wonder sometimes if manufacturers of foolproof items keep a fool or two on their payroll to test things.” — Alan Coren.
Need A Secure Job? If you’re a retired guy or gal who’s wants to earn some decent money, do something interesting and do good at the same time, then you might want to talk to my friend French expatriate Bernard Martinage.
Bernard, owner of the Island Safe N Secure company, is looking for someone to patrol a few hours at night hereabouts, do some monitoring from home and/or be standby during the day to respond to client calls. The person should be fit enough to do foot patrol, and able enough to drive at night, be computer-savvy enough to use a tablet (all reports are done online so clients can view them in real time), friendly, and of course trustworthy.
Bernard has it set up so a person can pick up $125 a day by just being on standby and then patrolling just four hours. If they have to respond to a call by dispatching they’ll make another $50. He’ll provide training, shirts, cap, badges and the duty gear needed, including night-vision equipment, patrol cars and even a company credit card.
Check out his company at www.MyFernandina.com
The firm only handles residential (houses, condos on the beach and subdivisions) commercial (churches, stores or clubs) and avoids high risk venues such as bars, banks, parties, etc. Once in a while they’ll do a special assignment such as a fire-watch or guarding an access during the Concours d’Élégance.
For details about all the benefits contact Bernard at Bernard@MyFernandina.com or call him at 866-766-3889 extension 5.