Traditions are an important part of the college experience. For many JMU students, a Thursday night would not be complete without a trip to Billy Jack’s for a box of their iconic “sticky nuggs”. For the seven years that the Jack Brown’s sister-store has been in business, the Thursday sticky nuggs deal has remained on the menu. For just three dollars, customers can enjoy a take out box filled to the brim with fried chicken nuggets, tossed in the house-made “sticky sweet chili” sauce. As an excuse to grab a box of nuggs for ourselves, The Daily Duke met with the general manager of Billy Jack’s, Joe Fowler, in order to learn more about the people behind this signature item.
Mr. Fowler served as a bartender at Billy Jack’s for two years before he was promoted to his current position. Fowler has a firm understanding of what it takes to successfully manage a restaurant, having worked at both Outback Steakhouse and O’Neill’s Grill. When asked about his experience in the food industry, Fowler stated that, “It’s not for everybody. You have to keep your smile while doing a million things at once. You truly have to want to be there, and enjoy the customers.”
Fowler and his team pride themselves on their outstanding customer service, and specialty offerings. While the Thursday sticky nugg deal has helped to position Billy Jack’s as a downtown hot-spot, it comes with a high cost for the restaurant.
“The honest-to-god truth is that we are breaking even on selling three-dollar nuggs. It was originally designed to get customers in the door, but it’s become something else entirely. As JMU has grown, these Thursdays have gotten busier and busier. I don’t foresee the deal ever going away. We still offer it just to make the customers happy, basically as a freeby, a ‘thanks for being a great customer,’” Fowler explained.
Currently only located in Harrisonburg, Billy Jack’s will soon be expanding to Richmond, Virginia and Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida. As the restaurant continues to grow in notoriety, the Harrisonburg community will always be known as the place where the sticky nugg tradition began.
Tell The Daily Duke about your sticky nugg experience in the comments below!