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FAMILY TRADITION: Jabe Harden opens barbeque restaurant

Jabe Harden felt rather secure in the workplace; after all, he had been with the company10 years. So when the ax fell and he was among those laid off, he decided the best way to keep a job was to be the boss.

Today, Harden is his own boss. And, he’s carrying on a family tradition that goes back to several generations of homegrown barbecue pitmasters.

His earliest memories include a fire in the pit, a pig on the grill and the sweet, spicy taste of hand-pulled pork.

“My daddy, Glenn, and my granddaddy, Paul, were always barbecuing and I was right along with them,” Harden said. “I wanted to be my own boss and to do that I had to do something I knew about. I knew about barbecue. So, I began to think about opening a barbecue restaurant.”

But thinking about it was not enough for Harden to make a hard and fast decision.

He talked with his mother, Martha Harden, about his idea. He talked with his wife, Anna, about it and they all prayed about it.

“Then, I stepped out in faith,” Harden said. “I started looking for the right place.”
But, Harden quickly realized that finding the right place for such a venture was more difficult than he had anticipated. He found several available buildings but nothing was working out and it would have been easy to question his decision. But, he didn’t. He continued to pray with the assurance that he had made the right decision.

“And, God opened the doors for me,” Harden said with a smile.

He attends Mt. Zion Baptist Church near Hamilton Crossroads and, going and coming from church, he passed a building on Highway 231 south of Brundidge that had been home to a country store with gas pumps and several start-up restaurants. That building had never been a consideration.

But on this one Sunday, Harden and his mother were having lunch and he told her if he could get that building for a certain price he would put his restaurant there. He made the call. The price was right, and even better, the restaurant equipment from the most recent business that operated there was still in the building.

“Our prayers were answered,” Harden said. “I walked right into a building that was a restaurant. God answered our prayers. We were blessed.”
Today, Jabo’s (Jabe’s nickname) Barbecue is open for business. The restaurant features barbecue and it also serves hamburgers, hotdogs and chicken wings and things and fries and other sides.

“Our barbecue is cooked on a grill outside and it’s our specialty,” Harden said. “We make our own barbecue sauce. The hot sauce is a family recipe of my granddaddy and my great aunt. The mild sauce is my recipe. The rub for the meat is also a family recipe. And, as those at the tables say, “It’s all good.”

Jabo’s Barbecue is open from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Orders may be called in for pickup at 334-344-2277. Jabo’s is located at 3699 U.S. Highway 231 south of Brundidge, just below the American Legion building.