Loran Smith: Old Brick Barbecue

Home >

Loran Smith: Old Brick Barbecue

Loran Smith
Loran Smith

CHAMBLEE – This suburban community is where General Motors once had an operation that attracted a lot of blue-collar working folk, greatly enhancing Georgia’s economy.  Originally, the area was known for its countless dairy farms which gave way to industrial growth such as the aforementioned GM Assembly plant, actually located two miles north in the community of Doraville.  Chamblee is also host to Atlanta’s Chinatown.

To a goodly number of Atlantans and Georgians—some from distant parts—Chamblee is also home of one of the best places you will find for smoked barbecue and Brunswick stew.





If you don’t hold culinary opinions from this corner in high regard, well, I’ll have you know that none other than National Geographic has ranked this delightful BBQ establishment as one of the best barbecue places in the entire U. S. of A.  Old Brick Pit Barbecue at 4805 Peachtree Road, dates back to 1976, and if you come here, you not only will be treated to a tasty meal, you also won’t have to wait very long to dine.  Southern Living gives Old Brick Pit Barbecue high marks, too.  Now, are you persuaded?  

Following a recent meeting at the prestigious Peachtree Golf Club where elite golfers can smell the barbecue cooking while they play one of the finest golf courses in the country, I placed a call to a long-time friend, John Withers, who lives in the area, for a recommendation for lunch.  He immediately said, “Old Brick Pit Barbecue.”  And then raved about the food which is not necessarily a good sign.

What captures the taste of one aficionado doesn’t necessarily mean that it will make others swoon as well.  My view, however, is that if you order a meal at Old Brick, you will like it.  If you are like me, you will be going back.  You get an updraft in your emotions when you spot an old Coca-Cola icebox iced down with Coke products.  Seeing that old icebox was evidence that I was in an arresting place which would make my day.





Then a smiling Ika Andrin, with charm dripping off her smiling vernacular, brings about good food vibes as she takes your order.  You can choose from a varied menu which includes ribs, BBQ sandwiches, BBQ chicken or pork, baked beans, and potato salad.  And, of course, Old Brick’s famous Brunswick stew which dates to the founding of the restaurant.  For dessert, you can treat yourself to an unimpeachable peach cobbler or banana pudding.

It is the Brunswick stew that sets this place apart.  Old Brick’s stew is the signature dish at this down-home place of business, which is family owned and operated.  The old-fashioned recipe is a family secret.  It is so popular that pilots flying into nearby DeKalb-Peachtree airport will stop by for a couple of gallons to take home with them even if they hail from the West Coast.  Old Brick ownership has been known to ship frozen stew as far away as Colorado.

Business flourished here in COVID times.  Customers preferred not to park and come inside.  They drove in and placed an order at the main entrance, then made a U-turn around the building to pick up their meal on the other side.  This popular routine continues although parking and going inside continues to attract loyal customers.   You may see an upscale housewife from the Brookhaven section of Northside Atlanta enjoying a barbecue plate while in the next booth, a blue-collar truck driver is fulfilled by the same experience.

When I asked Ika about the history of the restaurant, she pointed to Jane Ann Jarvis, the proprietress with a polite smile.   Jane Ann was taking “to go” orders, making one realize that there is always a steady stream of customers, but no one has to endure a long wait for their meal.

Born in Orlando, her father, Frank Garner, taught at Emory and Georgia State which prompted the move to Atlanta when she was in the sixth grade.   Her brother, Steve Garner, took over the business from founder Bob Newton and has kept everything the way it was from the outset.  

Her brother, her niece, her daughter, Ann Elizabeth, and two sons work in the business.  The sons, Porter, and Charles are the ones who are experts at smoking pork and chicken in the smokehouse out back.  You guessed it, on old-fashioned barbecue pits.  While the restaurant is not a hole-in-the-wall address, it, nonetheless, has that atmosphere that you sense the minute you walk on the premises. 

The family is Red & Black oriented with several members having graduated from UGA.  They were among the countless Georgians celebrating the Bulldogs’ recent national championship in football.

Jane Ann—you would expect a Southern enterprise such as Old Brick Barbecue to have a female owner with a double name—and her husband Chuck, enjoy European River cruises.  When they take off, they don’t have to worry about who is minding the store.  

That is one of the plusses of a business being a family business. 





share content