As crowds of people weave in and out of JAG’s Cafe & Catering, Angela and John Garrett work as a team, serving up the flavors of New Orleans.
The restaurant, located behind the Citgo gas station at 3008 McEver Road, opened in early January. Since then, the Garretts have shared their passion for Cajun cooking with the community.
“I was born and raised in New Orleans,” Angela Garrett said. “So, the flavors, the spices, the dishes, they’re authentic because that’s all I know. We want people to know that we’re naturally N’Awlins.”
The couple had their first unofficial catering gig 22 years ago, while living in New Orleans. Angela Garrett said she was an assistant state representative at the time and heard that one of the campaign rallies planned on serving hot dogs. The Garretts weren’t having any of this and decided to take matters into their own hands.
“We made wings, chicken, barbecue ribs and other things,” John Garrett said. “Afterward, everybody started asking us to cater for them.”
The Garretts said the catering requests came each week without fail. They ended up serving people from their home.
In 2000, the two moved to Gainesville after John Garrett was assigned to work as a pastor at Cornerstone of Faith Ministries.
Even though he worked as a full-time pastor, he and his wife still ran the catering business out of their house. The Garretts would also sit on the side of the road on Saturdays, selling Cajun food.
“We’d sell out of everything we had,” John Garrett said. “We kept it up in the community for a while.”
For 20 years, the Garretts considered the idea of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant and catering business. Angela Garrett said her daughter helped push them to finally pursue their dreams.
“My daughter happened to see the place on Facebook, and said, ‘Let’s go look at it,’”Angela Garrett said. “It was small, quaint and family-like. It just seemed like the perfect fit for what we wanted to do.”
Angela Garrett left her job of six years working as a Hall County Schools substitute teacher and opened the restaurant with her husband. John Garrett still serves as a full-time pastor in Gainesville.
When people enter JAG’s, they’re met with the aroma of crawfish, crab legs, fried baby back ribs, jambalaya, gumbo and other dishes. The letters in the restaurant's name stand for John, Angela and Garrett.
Angela Garrett said all of the recipes come from her memory of growing up in New Orleans. She doesn’t look at instructions, she just cooks.
“When I make food for my kids, they say, ‘Mom, can you make this again?” Angela Garrett said. “I don’t remember what I did because I don’t measure it.”
People have the option of sitting down and eating at the cafe, or requesting the restaurant's catering service. The meal prices range from $6.75-$15, depending on the type of platter.
The restaurant will have a grand opening on Friday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8. Angela Garrett said on those days people can expect New Orleans Mardi Gras food, like king cake and pralines.
“We’ve had such a warm welcome here,” John Garrett said. “Please come out and visit.”
JAG’s hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. For more information, call 770-895-4105.