Our Story


I always wanted to own a ski shop when I was a kid. I opened one out of college with a guy. After 15 years, my partner at the time wanted to go in a different direction. Soon after, I had a really crappy day at work, and I called Mike. After a long venting session and wondering what I would do next, Mike said “F*ck it, why don’t we open a bar together?”

At the time I was brewing my own beer and he was working as a chef at a restaurant in South Beach Miami. We continually dreamt of ideas around the perfect bar. All we would talk about was decor, the vibe, and the experience that we would provide. Mike and I grew up together and frequented bars. We had a dream of a bar that we never knew existed until that bad day of work, Jack Brown’s was that dream. (Hence the Est. 1985 on one of our logos.)

I had learned a thing or two on how to run a business during my 15 years. And Mike brought expertise with his 20+ years of experience from the fine dining world, as well as the attention to detail that you usually see in the best of restaurants, to Jack Brown’s. Top quality ingredients, even down to the butter and salt we use, quality mattered. Mike also understood the importance of cleanliness, “We’re a dive bar, not a dump”, he said while picking a french fry and a napkin up off the floor in the early days.


When Mike and I opened Jack Brown’s, I thought I was going to be a bartender for the rest of my life and I was so happy with that. I had two kids at home at the time, I loved our customers and I was making great money bartending. I owned a bar with my best friend, I was loving life!

I had never worked in restaurants except for summer jobs while home from college. When Mike went back to Florida, he offered me one piece of advice before he left, “Just treat people like they’re in your basement bar.” At the time I had an awesome bar in my basement away from the kids, complete with kegerator, pool table and dart board. We still believe in this “Basement bar” theory today.

It was 2013, and because of our manager at the time, I was able to work with Mike and expand our hospitality dream and open another location. It was then, we realized that our people are our most important asset. We can’t do anything great, without a great team.

Eventually, we were able to start growing outside of Harrisonburg, and then outside of Virginia. Again, because of our people, the commitment to shared values, and trying to create a business around something we all love to do. We love showing people a good time, and striving to give them an experience they will never forget.

 -Aaron Ludwig

Jack Brown's logo black