After three years of planning, Willie Degel finally got to host an event at his new Uncle Jack’s Meat House location in Peachtree Corners this past week.

It was a three-night VIP sneak peak meet-and-greet at the restaurant, which will open to the public Wednesday on a reservations only basis. There were sample size versions of the restaurant’s signature dishes as well as drinks and a visit by retired wrestler Ric Flair, who frequently had people coming up to him at the bar to ask if he would pose with them for a photo.

“It’s three years in the making, it’s amazing,” Degel said. “It’s a load off me. I basically came through, every time I do something, I get on a mission. I focus, I lock in and then I have a moment to myself and I pray to God and my father and all the other loved ones I’ve lost and I tell them all, ‘Look what I’ve done. I’ll never stop. I hope I make them all proud.’”

For the time being, the new Uncle Jack’s location will serve dinner crowds on a reservations only basis. Degel said the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to get a full staff so sticking to reservations only for now will help them be able to ensure they can provide quality service.

“We’re going to be open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Degel said. “We’ll go five days, diner-only in the beginning. Then, once we get the staff, we’ll go lunch and dinner seven days, but we need a month or two.”

The new restaurant is located in Peachtree Corners’ Town Center, and is adjacent to that development’s parking deck. It can seat 225 diners and features indoor and patio dining areas.

The approach to this new location is slightly different from the Duluth location because that location was a renovation of an existing space. The Peachtree Corners location is a new space.

“Duluth was a facelift but it still was a huge buildout (and) this one was from the ground up,” Degel said. “It was mud and dirt. I designed the building for the city with the developer and then we built the store from the ground up.”

There is also a 16-seat dining room for private parties at the restaurant. It is named the “Ric Flair Suite” in honor of the former wrestler, who lives in Gwinnett County and is a frequent guest at the original Uncle Jack’s Meat House location in Duluth. The room has 16 seats, all situated around a round table, in a nod to Flair’s 16 championships.

“I’m honored and thrilled,” Flair said of the suite. “He’s been so respectful of me and my career. It’s a great restaurant to begin with, but he’s a great guy. Sometimes the connection is never the same, but you’ve got a great place to go, a great place to hang out, great service, great people behind it and it’s going to be successful.”

Degel said the restaurant also features several menu items that are mainstays at all of his restaurants, such as the Ooey Gooey Mooey Burger.

But, there are also menu items that are specific to the Peachtree Corners location. Some of them are nods to the city’s history, such as “The Duke,” a burger that has a dry-aged meat blend, fresh Georgia peach jam, house-made peanut butter and maple bacon on a brioche bun. It is named for Paul Duke, who is credited as being the “father” of Peachtree Corners and launched a vision in the late 1960s and 1970s to make the then-unincorporated area a technology hotspot.

Other menu items specific to this location — some of which are meant to meet local dining needs rather than be a specific reference to the area and its history — include the Peachtree Salad, the Peachtree Cobb Salad, the Georgia Pecan Waldorf Salad, an Asian Salad, the Seared Tuna Sandwich, a Garden Vegetable Lasagna, Beef Stroganoff, a Crushed Walnut Sweet Potato Mash, Crispy Pork Belly Chicharrons and Swedish Meatballs.

“You do your research,” Degel said. “That’s why it’s called ‘The Duke.’ The Duke owned this whole area — and it wasn’t John Wayne ... We look at what the needs are for the area. We track how much corporate lunch business (or) how many women during the day are going to be coming out after working out or playing tennis and what are they going to looking for.

“That’s why I opened up the chopped salad section for them. I added the tuna salad. Then I look at the diversity of our scratch plates and we have a nice vegan option and beef stroganoff pasta option. So we keep adapting the menu based on the area.”

This is the third Uncle Jack’s Meat House location in metro Atlanta, behind the brand’s original store in Duluth and another location in Roswell.

Degel is also planning an Uncle Jack’s Tavern that will be located in Lawrenceville’s downtown SouthLawn development. Designs have already been approved, but construction was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lawrenceville restaurant is coming soon, however.

“It starts construction in a couple of weeks,” Degel said.

Reservations for the new Peachtree Corners Uncle Jack’s Meat House location can be made by visiting www.unclejacksmeathousepeachtree.com.

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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