Just down the road from the University of West Georgia sits a log cabin in a gravel parking lot. You can usually find it full of students and families, hanging out and eating some of the best food Carrollton has to offer. Weekends, however, shift to a unique atmosphere, focusing on local musicians and bands playing on the porch. Jacob Skelton, owner of 302 South Street, knew he wanted his first restaurant to feel like a home. 302 South Street is that for anyone who walks through the door.
Skelton opened for business on March 2, 2011. At 22, he started with only $5,000; four years later, 302 is one of the most well-known and well-loved restaurants in Carrollton. A UWG graduate, Skelton majored in marketing and real estate. His next move was to either enter into a master’s program or hit the job market.
“I got the lease and got the ball rolling,” Skelton recalled. “I had nothing to lose.”
Having worked in sports bar-type restaurants throughout high school and college, he was familiar with the cuisine and energy. He worked in the previous restaurant on 302’s current plot for about a year and half before it closed its doors.
“When UWG was out of session, there was a drop-off in sales,” Skelton said. “Local families were what we wanted. We wanted to get everyone, not just college students.”
A big part of drawing in the community involves live music. Skelton, a musician himself, is a huge supporter of local talent. On 302’s covered front porch is a stage section where local artists are hired to perform.
“I used to play in bands in college,” Skelton said. “One of the restaurant’s main goals is to support live music.” This aspect other local restaurants often fail to jump at.
This past weekend held the restaurant’s 4th annual 302 Day, a celebration of where the restaurant has come from and where it is going.
“It’s was an all day party,” Skelton said.
Starting around 3 p.m., the event had tons of food both inside and out, beer tents, t-shirt booths and a stage set-up where different bands performed until the event closed around 11. There was a custom t-shirt just for the event.
One of Skelton’s favorite memories of the restaurant is last year’s 302 Day. The restaurant’s third birthday featured five bands, tons of food, and more people than the restaurant had hosted before.
“It went from a restaurant atmosphere to a small music festival atmosphere,” Skelton recollected. “It was great to see that many people enjoying themselves. We really showed out.”
One day, UWG graduates may find themselves in a similar position as Skelton—fresh out of college with a goal that others say is unattainable.
“Hash out your plan as best as possible and just have it set in your mind that that’s what you’re gonna do… I’m a perfect example of ‘you can do whatever you want do,’” said Skelton.
The future looks bright for 302 and its owner. He constantly sketches out different business endeavors to not only expand his current restaurant, but also to possibly open different types of restaurants in the Carrollton area. Skelton also has dabbled with the thought of opening 302-esque restaurants in other small college towns lacking a relaxed, sporty hangout.
“The most rewarding part of this whole thing is watching something that you put so much effort into do well. 10 years from now I hope to still be rocking out restaurants.”