The story behind Cooter Brown's
To get an idea of how popular Cooter Brown's Rib Shack is, just look around the dining room of the rustic Jacksonville barbecue joint, where the walls and ceiling are covered with license plates from all 50 states, along with police and fire department patches from New York City to Los Angeles, Tacoma, Wash., to Spartanburg, S.C.
"We get customers who come through here and eat, and a few weeks later, we'll get a tag in the mail from some state," Tim Johnson, who owns Cooter Brown's with his wife, Barbara, says. "So we'll put their tag up."
The patches are from police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency responders who come to train at the Center for Domestic Preparedness on the former Fort McClellan Army base in nearby Anniston.
"A fireman I know from Gadsden who retired and went to work over there started bringing his classes over here to eat," Johnson explains. "Word spread at CDP, so we get a lot of those guys from all over the country. They bus 'em in, and they eat with us.
"Somebody put a patch up one day, and the next thing we knew, people started bringing us their patches -- military, police, fire, medics, everybody."
But it's not just out-of-town guests who make the journey to Jacksonville for a slab of Cooter Brown's renowned ribs.