There Really is a Barbara Jean,
and They Really are Her Recipes!
[click on photos to see larger version]
Barbara Barta, and her husband, Jim, opened their first Barbara Jean’s Restaurant on St. Simons Island, Georgia in March of 1998… but there is a lot more to this story!
How does a nice German-Irish girl born in Brooklyn, New York get to St. Simons Island, Georgia and open a restaurant that features a lot of Southern specialties?
She progressed like many girls from her generation in that part of America. From the city her large and “colorful” family moved to the suburbs where she finished elementary school, went to middle school and high school, and on to an education as a Dietician.
She fell in love there too, with her high school sweetheart, Jim Barta.
He joined the Marine Corps and they married and within months he went off to Vietnam, and she waited for his return.
He followed that career through another dark combat tour. Again she waited. She was now a mom, and wife and the dad while he was gone. Throughout his career she sacrificed to see him succeed.
They had children that gave them joy beyond measure, but she also suffered losses that stretched and twisted emotions into molten pain. (Read the Afterword from each of Barbara Jean’s cookbooks below)
They lived in wonderful and not so wonderful places, and traveled often during that period of her life.
He retired and she began a career pursuing a passion that truly suited her… cooking!
Barbara’s cooking skills took her in many directions. In her home it was for her family and friends. Her great joy was making others happy, and she was overwhelmingly successful. But as her children grew older and more independent a dream that she and Jim shared pulled on her harder and harder… a restaurant, someday she would own a restaurant. A lot has happened since the first Barbara Jean’s Restaurant opened on St. Simons Island.
That restaurant has doubled in size, three more company owned locations have opened along with three franchise locations in three states, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
There are the grand kids.
Between 2005 and 2007 Barbara Jean also authored and published two remarkable cook books!
Is Barbara Jean done? What do you think?
Jim Barta wrote too very personal and poignant Afterwords for the two cookbooks. You can read them below.