Photo by Frank Couch.
Above: Jeremy Hackney, left, and John Giffin pooled their extensive knowledge of the food/restaurant industry to open the Front Porch restaurant in March.
Two longtime Ross Bridge residents said they’d felt that one of the few things their community lacked was an eatery providing a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. So they decided to do something about it.
Jeremy Hackney and John Giffin opened the Front Porch restaurant in March and said they are thrilled with its success.
“It’s just fantastic, and we couldn’t be happier,” Hackney said. “We listened to the community and its needs, working hard to make sure the restaurant is inviting and family oriented, and the neighborhood has really taken us in.”
The Front Porch, at 2301 Grand Avenue, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The menu is “eclectic,” featuring items including hamburgers, salads, pizzas and several entrées, Hackney said.
“We wanted to be as diverse as we could in our offerings without getting outside of what we do well,” he said. “Hopefully, you can find something you really like every time you visit.”
Married with two daughters, Hackney is from the Birmingham area and has lived in Ross Bridge for nine years. He spent a great deal of his career — including running his own company — in the litigation support industry, assisting attorneys and law firms with electronic and paper discovery by converting it into a format for research.
But he was always attracted to the restaurant business and co-owned and operated Rogue Tavern for several years before selling it and eventually teaming with Giffin for Front Porch.
“I’ve never waited tables or washed dishes, and when we opened Rogue Tavern in 2009, everyone said we were crazy because of the state of the economy, but it exceeded all our expectations,” he said. “The restaurant industry is something I’ve always wanted to be in because I just love food and the way it brings people together.”
Unlike his partner, Giffin has a long history in the food business, having been a franchisee and master developer for Roly Poly Rolled Sandwiches from 1997 to 2015.
A native of Carrollton, Georgia, Giffin has been a Ross Bridge resident for 10 years and is married with 8-year-old twins.
According to Giffin, he and his Front Porch partner made their connection when Giffin’s wife, a real estate agent, was helping the Hackneys sell their home and buy a new one in Ross Bridge.
“Our children are in the same grade, and one thing just led to another,” Giffin said. “I didn’t know Jeremy well, but I did know his background with Rogue Tavern and enough to gauge his character and work ethic. I just can’t figure out why he wants to be in business with me.”
Hackney and Giffin agree their roles at the restaurant are definitely outside the kitchen, and they concentrate on operations and accounting respectively. But regular patron Brock Murphy said, regardless of the formula, the two have hit a home run with Front Porch.
Brock, also a Ross Bridge resident, said his favorite dishes are the pecan-crusted chicken and mahi mahi.
“But I love everything on the menu, and with their variety and prices, you see people returning again and again,” he said. “I’m there several times a week and ate there six times during the first eight days they were open. In fact, I actually posted on Facebook that I’m a stalker and put myself on a two-day ban.”
And that’s exactly what the Front Porch owners said they were aiming for.
“We want our patrons to get fine-dining service while in a comfortable atmosphere in their jeans,” Giffin said. “Our goal is to have you come in and have a good time and good food in what’s becoming a neighborhood hub.”