ASHLAND, Ky. — A trio of businessmen are choosing to partake in Ashland’s rejuvenation as the city’s economic growth continues to expand.
The 3 J Group, made up of partners Jason Camp, John Vorndran and Jimmy “Ribs” Blanke, refer to themselves as an ambitious crew and there is no denying it considering their plans to bring four new businesses to town.
“We came into this area to make a big splash and we’re going to,” Camp said.
The businesses set to open are Smokin’ J’s Rib & Brewhouse in the Park Place building, the Winchester Steak, Seafood and Bourbon Bar at the soon-to-open Marriott-brand Delta Hotel and The 3 J Group Events & Catering.
The group will also be feeding the construction crew working on the Braidy Industries site at the EastPark Industrial Center. After the aluminum mill is built, the three will manage the in-house food and beverage service and employee restaurant at the Braidy Life Center.
The businesses will collectively have upwards of 160 employees.
Camp, Vorndran and Blanke come to the area from Florida. Their relocation is connected to Braidy Industries, explained Blanke, saying Braidy President and CEO Craig Bouchard is a family friend.
Together, the trio have more than 65 combined years of tenure in the restaurant, barbeque, seafood and special-event fields.
Smokin’ J’s Rib & Brewhouse is the first business set to open on May 18. The restaurant will feature barbeque dishes and will have a full bar. It will be open Friday through Sunday.
Camp said the Park Place location is temporary through the summer while the group is searching for a more permanent site, but noted two operating locations are a possibility.
“In an ideal situation, we’ll open another location, Smokin’ J’s Rib & Brewhouse in town and still keep that (Park Place location) open as well,” he said.
The Winchester Steak, Seafood and Bourbon Bar will be a high-end restaurant and will open simultaneously with the Marriott-brand Delta Hotel in September.
A full commercial kitchen trailer will be used to serve the construction crew working on the Braidy Industries complex. Groundbreaking for the aluminum mill is set for this spring and Camp said the group would start serving once there are 100 workers on site.