Union Street restaurant/bar offers locavore atmosphere

By Hannah Heekin, CG Lifestyles & People

Chipotle, Subway, Jimmy John’s, Quizno’s: these are all typical choices when considering where to grab a meal uptown. But what does the Court Street area have to offer hungry Athenians who want to feed their inner locavore?

Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery, established in 1986 on Union Street, is the definition of locally-owned. Since its founding, all Jackie O’s owners have lived in town; current owner Art Oestrike, who took over in 2005 and also founded neighboring restaurant Public House, is no exception. And although Jackie O’s can’t use all locally grown food due to the higher cost, they make it a priority to purchase as much of it as possible.

“We have strived to use local products in our beer and food since day one,” Art said. “All of our burgers come from Athens along with as many tomatoes and lettuces as we can get.”

This effort can be seen through more than just a trip to the Athens Farmers Market for some produce. “We make our own burger buns. The leftover grain from our brewing process goes in as the main ingredient to our pizza dough. The rest of the leftover grain feeds the cows that then return here as burgers,” Art said.

Although the cost of these ingredients is somewhat of a hindrance, Jackie O’s owners don’t mind. “It’s more expensive,” Art said. “But you know you’re putting money into the coffers of the people who are then supporting you back. When we buy from [Gordon Food Service], you know I don’t like to do that, that money just leaves town and doesn’t stay here.”

Art has gained more than local business partners over the past six years. His habit of buying local foods has spawned relationships, because you truly get to know vendors when they live in the same town as you. That proximity also allows for an endless exchange of the same money.

“We use Laurel Valley’s cheese, and it’s awesome,” Art said. “The money’s going to Nick to support his family. Nick then comes in here, buys a couple beers. He advertises us to the other farmers markets… It all comes back around.”

In March 2011, Jackie O’s employees started a farm off of Angel Ridge Road in an effort to personally grow more of their own ingredients. The 20-acre farm, complete with a pond and a farm house, is now Art’s home. In addition to the typical salad ingredients, Jackie O’s is also producing honey, maple syrup and fruit.

Along with purchasing (and growing) local ingredients, Jackie O’s employees also brew as much of their own beer as possible given their production equipment. Because demand is so high, they stock several guest ales to supplement their own brand. All beer is brewed in the bar itself;  passersby can see the beer brewing in the tanks outside of Jackie O’s.

With local pubs like Jackie O’s, Athens residents can take pride knowing the food and beer they purchase all holds a piece of the surrounding area, allowing customers to give back to their community without making much of an effort at all.


Brewing Process

  1. Wash off grains and collect sugars
  2. Boil in kettle for about an hour and a half
  3. Cool boiled sugar down; send it through a heat exchanger
  4. Transfer liquid at 70 degrees a tank; combine with yeast
    • “That reaction produces CO2 and alcohol.”
  5. Set for 1-2 weeks, depending on the type of beer
  6. Cool; harvest the yeast and let sit there for 2-3 days
  7. Carbonate; put finished product on draft


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