Tuesday, December 6, 2022

True Professionals: The Origin Story of Two Drummers

Jason and Jon Wade have made a name for themselves as true professional local culinary world. (WYDaily/Ben Mackin)

WILLIAMSBURG — Saying that Jason and Jon Wade are busy people is an understatement.

They own and operate one of the most popular restaurants in the Historic Triangle, Two Drummers Smokehouse in Toano. Over the last year they have traveled all over the country to take part in competition barbecue contests, taking home medals and accolades from just about all of them. Finally, as if those first two were not enough, they have opened up a butcher shop in Williamsburg to much fanfare.

The fact that they are that busy is not the real story. It is the fact that they are seemingly impossible combination of busy and successful that boggles the mind.

When talking to them, it becomes apparent that they are not capable of tackling any one project with anything less than their full effort.

Jon credits their devotion to excellence in part to the time both of them spent in the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums.

“That organization makes professionals out of children,” Jon said. “Since then we have modeled ourselves as professionals in whatever we have done.”

Carrying that mindset into the professional world, the older Wade brother, Jason, cut his teeth washing dishes at the famed Sportsman’s Grill, before earning a spot at the illustrious Trellis Bar and Grill in Merchants Square.

Jon inititally went a different path. After studying music at Christopher Newport University, he made his living primarily as a drummer in the band Rich Whiskey.

Still needing to make some money on the side, Jon was able to get a dishwashing job at the Trellis, courtesy of Jason.

Knowing that his brother’s name was on the line, Jon made sure the Wade work ethic was on display.

“Jason was highly respected as a 22-year-old in that restaurant,” Jon remembers, “So I knew that I couldn’t make him look stupid. I worked hard because of that and I moved through the ranks a little bit. It was there we established ourselves as a team.”

As time went on, both brothers pursued their respective passions. Jason was the head chef at the Corner Pocket and looking for opportunities to start his own restaurant. Meanwhile, Jon had been earning a living as a professional drummer.

When two regulars at the Corner Pocket offered Jason the use of a recently vacated barbecue spot, Jason asked his brother to be his business partner.

Thus, the Two Drummers Brand was born.

Both brothers concede that they opened the smokehouse because the property happened to be outfitted with a massive meat smokers.

“Why would we rip the carpet out from under that and start something new,” Jon said.

“We joke that that had the restaurant had a pizza oven in it, we would have been Two Drummers Pizzeria,” Jason chimed in.

From there they put the northern part of James City County on the culinary map.

The food combined with an easy going festive atmosphere and live music several nights a week brought in regulars and tourists alike.

When COVID-19 shut the world down in March 2020, they were one of the first restaurants to pivot to an all take out and delivery model.

As a result they were able to keep a full wait and kitchen staff employed while others in the industry were having to turn to unemployment.

In an effort to help local musicians Two Drummers began to sponsor virtual concerts at the Retro Daddio shop as well as in-person drive-in concerts on the restaurant’s property.

With the restaurant able to continue operations in spite of the pandemic, the Jason and Jon Wade began to get involved with competitive barbecue.

“We fell in love with the people and the culture,” Jason said of their new past time. “We also fell in love with the cities that put on the events.”

Soon word got out around the competition circles that the Two Drummer’s Team had access to quality meat on account of their restaurant connections.

Not long after that, other teams were calling the Wades and asking to buy ribs, briskets and other competition meat items. Wanting to contribute to their new community, they began taking orders.

Thus the Two Drummers Butcher and Provisions was born.

Over the last year, Jason and Jon were able to find an empty space on Second Street and after a complete overhaul of the inside, open for business selling quality meats and grilling products to the masses.

The Wades pride themselves on being able to get almost any product the customer can think of and cut it to order on premises and helping people feed their families at a reasonable price.

“Our first idea was to have this butcher shop and retail thing,” Jon says of the new venture. “But now we are going to start processing meat for Two Drummers. So now the meat you get at the Smokehouse will be a locally butchered product. So the quality will increase, but the price will stay the same.”

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