Chef Reviving Former Cotton Patch Location as New Barbecue Concept
J.D. Wier’s first restaurant will open just a few hundred yards from the Savannah River, in the heart of Augusta, on what is considered to be the oldest street in town. It’s the culmination of Wier’s culinary journey that so far has spanned from Charleston to Texas.
The next stop on that journey is Noble Jones, a restaurant concept that will create a fusion of styles and flavors from across the American South, from the rich tastes of New Orleans to the classic southern fare that inspired Wier in Charleston; from smoky Texas barbecue to the French influences that shaped Wier’s culinary training at Johnson and Wales.
“It’s like you’re eating gumbo, you’re drinking a beer from Italy, or eating fried chicken, and you have a German lager or something…we’re just kind of like, ‘Dare to be different’ in a way.”
The restaurant is set to open mid-July. Smoked fried chicken, kimchi coleslaw, ribs, oysters, Asian chicken wings, po’ boys, even ice cream (one of Wier’s specialties) are a few items that will be featured on the menu.
“So out in Texas, you get super smoky barbecue, and they don’t put sauce on it,” Wier said. “So the first time I ate that, I was like, ‘Augusta needs to know about that’…Texas is one of my big inspirations for barbecue here because I’d never really had brisket before, and the first brisket I had there…it was so smoky that it was just incredible. It was fatty, salty, smoky, tender. I mean, it was just all good.”
Following culinary school in Charleston, Wier gained experience at various restaurants in Charleston before returning to Augusta to work at Finch and Fifth, Abel Brown and as the pastry chef at Augusta National Golf Club. Wier then moved to San Antonio and worked as the Sous-Chef for the Argile Club before returning to Augusta in the summer of 2017.
Around that time, Wier took a liking to the look and feel of the Cotton Patch Jazz and Blues Cafe at 816 Cotton Lane (Cotton Patch would close later that year). The 4,300 square-foot space, which has a large patio and a smaller space across from the main restaurant that will be converted into a private dining room, is a whole, secluded dining and social atmosphere on its own, tucked away next to the Augusta Riverwalk.
“I’ve always wanted to open my own restaurant,” Wier said. “And since this building is such a historical kind of building, and I felt like I’ve always loved that patio since I saw it back in…early February of 2017. I’d known about this place, but I’d never come here before. But I just really love this building. And it kind of just fit kind of where I was going with it.”
The restaurant is named after the official surveyor of the colony of Georgia who designed the city in 1739, three years after the city was founded as a trading post.
“There’s a lot of culture here because of all of the people that traveled,” Wier said. “Chinese people, Spanish people, Japanese people…and then you think about the influence of the African-American culture, bringing all of their African influences into Southern cooking. I mean, that’s where Southern cooking basically came from…it’s good stuff.”