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ready for kickoff at j town's
story and photo by Shaila Creekmore

Located just off campus and overlooking Centennial Bank Stadium, J Town’s Grill has quickly become a hot spot for dining since its opening last month.

Jeffrey Higgins along with his wife, Kacey, both graduates of Arkansas State University, wanted to take advantage of the frontage property along Johnson Avenue where they own The Village apartment complex. The street front property was designed with a restaurant space on the lower level and loft space above. The downstairs seating area includes a large patio with outdoor seating
for approximately 50.

Initially, Higgins had planned to open a franchise restaurant, but during the beginning phases of planning last year, he met Lisa Godsey, a well-known Jonesboro chef and former restaurateur. Godsey and Higgins quickly formed a partnership with Godsey coming on board as general manager and executive chef. “It feels good to be back,” said Godsey. “Being a general manager is a little bit different. Learning to handle the staff, scheduling, meeting and greeting customers – it’s all new to me because I’ve always been back in the kitchen. …Right now I’ve got my hand in pretty much everything.”

Godsey developed the menu with a few requests from Higgins like hot dogs and brats.“I looked at what people like, what I like, what’s trending out there,” said Godsey. “If it sounds good and it’s different – off the wall – I want to cook it.”

For the opening, Godsey developed a small menu offering a selection of appetizers, dips, nachos, salads,“sammiches,” wraps, burgers, flatbread pizza and a ribeye steak. Each of the selections offer just a few items, but Godsey said those options will quickly be expanding.“We wanted to pick and choose items for the starter menu,” said Godsey. “We will start running a lot of specials and expanding our selections. We will be offering more salads definitely, more burger options, more appetizers and more steaks.”

Items that have become favorites of early patrons are spinach crawfish dip, Jtown ultimate nachos and barbecue nachos. The burger selections include a traditional burger, blue cheese burger, pimento cheeseburger, hot mess burger
and the hopper burger.

Higgins said in just the first few days of opening, he has had a great response from customers as he has spent time visiting with the patrons.“We’ve had a packed lunch and dinner so far,” said Higgins. “We’ve had people say ‘It’s like y’all have been open awhile.’ We’ve had a good response.”

Higgins said a big part of that positive response has been the staff he and Godsey have put together for J Town’s Grill.

“I think we’ve surrounded ourselves with good people and a good staff,” said Higgins, a first-time restaurant owner. “I’ve enjoyed walking around meeting customers, checking on people’s food, and I’ve been rolling silverware and bussing tables too.”

Higgins said it’s important to him to create a family environment among the staff as J Town’s Grill is not his primary business. A native of Marianna, Higgins returned home after graduating in 2010 to work on the family farm. Higgins, his wife and their young son still live in Marianna but also have an apartment in Jonesboro. Kacey works in radiology at NEA Baptist Medical Center.

Higgins and Godsey are excited about the restaurant’s proximity to campus are excited about the upcoming football season. On game days, Red Wolf Roll Call Radio Network will broadcast live from J Town’s Grill.

“I love it – because the fact is, you can sit out here on the patio and look directly into the stadium. I absolutely love being this close to campus,” said Godsey. Higgins said he is glad he was able to add a locally owned restaurant to the Jonesboro community and is working to likewise support locally owned vendors and businesses.

“We’re here to make Jonesboro and ASU proud. This is going to be a great restaurant with great food,” said Higgins. “I think people will be happy and be proud of it.”

J Town’s Grill, 2612 E. Johnson Road, is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. until the crowd goes home (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.). For more information, call 275-6514.