Business Spotlight: Wes Johnson, Buckhead Management Group
By Angie Fenton | Photo By Tony Bennett
If you’ve ever eaten at Buckhead Mountain Grill or Rocky’s Sub Pub, you can understand why the restaurants are often mistaken for being corporate owned. The establishments offer consistently good comfort food at a reasonable cost on a large scale. “We’re a mid-price range restaurant,” said Wes Johnson, who co-owns Buckhead Management Group, the parent company, with business partner Mike Kaphammer. “Size and scale make people think this is corporate, but it’s locally owned,” Wes said.
Both partners have been in the restaurant business “our whole lives,” Wes added. “We’re professionals and we know how to do it, but we struggle a lot with the ownership piece. We don’t want to feel mom and pop – you can’t pull all of this off that way – but we definitely aren’t corporate. We really focus on buying quality ingredients when we can, and there’s a ton of stuff we make from scratch.”
Among the list of high quality fare: You won’t find any frozen appetizers at the restaurants (including the delicious potato skins, which are scooped fresh each morning), but you will find homemade salad dressings and beef and chicken that’s never frozen, along with one of the best brunch buffets – both in terms of taste and cost – on either side of the Ohio.
“There is something about creating (a business) and owning (a business) that is yours,” Wes said. “And even though it’s sometimes maddening and frustrating, the rewards are significant.” And not just for Wes, his business partner and their employees.
The company has given more than $100,000 to charitable organizations and schools over the past two years. “We’re in the business to make money. If we don’t make money, we don’t stay in business and we can’t give back to the community,” Wes said. “There’s a lot of satisfaction in being able to give back.”
At A Glance
Wes Johnson and his business partner Mike Kaphammer are co-owners of Buckhead Management Group, which includes Buckhead Mountain Grill in Jeffersonville, Bellevue, Ky., and on Bardstown Road in Louisville, and Rocky’s Sub Pub in Jeffersonville and a fast-casual version of Rocky’s in Louisville. The locally-owned establishments employ 400 to 500 people, depending on the season, and have collectively given more than $100,000 to charitable causes in the past two years. If your school, school group or nonprofit organization is interested in raising funds by holding a Charity Day at Buckhead, send an email to email@example.com or call 502.899.3030.