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Johnny’s BBQ changing ownership
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Tharpe Ward helps Emory Martin at Johnny's BBQ on Friday, July 24, 2015. Martin orders his wings ahead of time to ensure some are available when he arrives for lunch. - photo by Erin O. Smith

After 25 years of ownership at Johnny’s BBQ in Gainesville, the Ward family is retiring and handing the keys over to a new owner.

The restaurant announced the change in a Facebook post, saying the new owner will be Zack Ivey, Tharpe and Judy Ward’s nephew and a longtime employee of the barbecue joint.

Johnny’s has been around since 1990, originally opened by Johnny and Deborah Mallard. The Wards bought it in 1995 and it’s been a staple in Gainesville ever since.

It was awarded best barbecue restaurant in Hall County in 2018.
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