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Our Story

The smell of the burning cherry wood is what will greet you first when you enter the grounds of Jim’s
Smokin’ Que and the same smoky aroma is what will linger in the air as you leave. The smoke from the burning of the
cherry wood rises from the ashes to create delicious food and special memories for the thousands of customers who
come each year. And this phenomenon symbolizes the birth of Jim’s Smokin’ Que in Blairsville, GA. It is about the
owners, Jim, Donna, and Lauren’s story of resurrecting beauty from ashes-that from ashes hope and peace can be
revived, creating joy from pain.

There is usually a line out the door- a line that curves around the left side of the porch onto the gravel parking lot.
There is an ambiance felt the second you fall into the line, a feeling that settles into your heart as a place you will make
many memories either on your vacations, day trips, or, if you are a local, becomes a consistent landing spot for one
of your favorite and regular Saturday night dinners.

A restaurant that comes into being such as this one is never an accident. It is more of a masterpiece born from
blood, sweat, and tears. And in the creation of Jim's Smokin’ Que, this could not be any truer. Jim and Donna
Guess started Jim’s Smokin Que in 2010, and the restaurant has had incredible success since the beginning. The many
accolades received for the distinct taste, quality, and originality of the food and the flavor speak for themselves.
Recently named “GA’s Best Place for Ribs” and “Best Place in Georgia for Barbeque,” there is no doubting Jim
and Donna’s talent when it comes to producing unique barbeque with exquisite flavor. And for Jim, Donna, and
Lauren, it is a story birthed from both passion and pain.

Fourteen years ago, before the Smokin Que opened its doors, Jim, Donna, and Lauren suffered a tragic loss. On
Saturday, February 8, 2004, Jim and Donna’s thirteen-year old son Garrett played in his scheduled Union County
Panthers Middle school basketball game. On that Sunday, he became acutely ill, and on that Monday, February 10,
2004, Garrett passed away from this Earth, into the arms of the Almighty God. He was thirteen.

Six years after Garrett’s death, Jim and Donna bought two smokers on credit and began Jim’s Smokin Que. Jim’s
Smokin Que was constructed with the help of the community and Jim and Donna’s fellow church members,
and little by little, the restaurant grew into the success it has become today.

Great restaurants are not a matter of the stomach; they are a matter of the heart. The passion it takes day in and
day out to continually produce delectable food for thousands of people a year has to be fueled by something
deeper within. And in the case of Jim’s Smokin Que, it started with pain. In the words of C. S. Lewis, “We can
ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our
conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

“To comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,” -Isaiah 61:3

- In loving memory of Garrett-whose spirit is strongly
felt today , even by those who never knew you when you
were on this Earth.
-To Jim, Donna, and Lauren- thank you for what you
created and brought to this community. Your talent,
creativity, and love are felt strongly. Thank you for allowing
me to hear your story.

Emilie McGrath

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