Family brings unique flavors to Gibson: Brothers work with mother to turn family property into The Heritage House restaurant
Friday, May 5, 2017 - 2:54pm
If you’re looking for a place to take your parents, a client, friends or even a date, you don’t have to drive far in Glascock County.
The Heritage House, located at 342 Calhoun St. in Gibson, is owned and operated by Ann Lamb and her two sons, Gregory Lamb and Charles Lamb. The trio has renovated a family owned home, turned it into a restaurant with warmth and charm.
It’s not uncommon for one or more of the owners to stop by your table for a polite chat.
“Her (Ann’s) goal is to make everybody feel at home in our home. And that’s what we wanted. When we decided to do this, it was a labor of love,” Greg said. “We put our own sweat, tears and cash into it. We didn’t go to a bank; so, we weren’t forced to finish by a certain date. We didn’t have to worry about a mortgage every month. We just put our money together.”
It’s even on the menu, “Southern Style with a Southern Smile.”
Step inside and you’ll find a variety of dishes. A recent menu offered Chicken Cordon-bleu, ribeye steak, stuffed flounder, surf and turf and apple-stuffed pork loin. Soups at the restaurant have included clam chowder, French onion soup and a gumbo Charles said sold out.
Charles and Greg both cook; but, Charles said he had to be able to bring new items to the menu from time to time.
“That was an agreement,” Charles said. “Every six to eight weeks, I was going to change the menu. So it’s always fresh. It’s always new and never the same. And whatever was a big seller on the previous menu, we’ll add that to the next menu. They’re country folks around here; and, we were raised country. We grew up in the city; but, we knew our country roots. Turnip greens and all the stuff I still love to this day. And I want to bring that here.”
Charles said they are going to play around and have some fun.
“We ran out of Ranch dressing,” he said, adding he told the staff, “We’re going to make our own Ranch dressing.”
He showed them how and now they make their own as well as Italian, Thousand Island and others.
Although the brothers grew up in Augusta, they spent their summers in Gibson with their grandparents. Charles knew he wanted to be a chef from the time he was a young man; but, his mother says, he also had another dream.
“His passion’s cooking; but, he also, since he was knee-high to a grasshopper, he wanted to drive an 18-wheeler,” Ann said. “He grew up driving around on his knees, around and around.”
Charles lived in Nashville and drove tour buses for entertainers for 18 or 20 years, his mother said. “And that’s why you see all these pictures. They’re people he drove from state to state on their tours or else he cooked for them. Some of them, he did both. But, he always wanted his own restaurant.”
In the front room, you’ll see exactly what Ann is talking about – picture after picture of easily identifiable singers, actors and comedians, most if not all, signed.
There’s a picture of Dom DeLuise, one of Carroll O’Connor, Meg Ryan, Kevin Costner, James Caan, Chevy Chase, Eddie Albert, Neil Diamond, Travis Tritt, Jay Leno and the list goes on.
Even though Charles finds himself in Gibson working at his dream restaurant, with his brother and mother, he said he is not giving up his other love.
“I’m still in the music business,” he said with a grin.
Greg tells a story about a recent night in December. The phone rang; and, Greg said he heard his brother say, “Yeah, well, I don’t think I can do that until February.”
Then the call was put on speaker so the caller could wish everyone a Merry Christmas; and, Greg said he immediately recognized the voice.
“It was Lionel Ritchie,” Greg said.
“Charles, my brother, and I have been talking about this for the last 20 years, 25 years I guess. He started out in the food service operations. Actually he didn’t have to go to McDonald’s and Hardee’s type situation. He started out with a Hibachi grill. He got where he could flip the knives,” Greg said.
Charles said he left Augusta right after high school and went to Florida.
“When I grew up, there was three people on TV. There was no Food Channel. There was none of that stuff,” he said.
“You had Julia Child, Justin Wilson and Jeff Smith (the Frugal Gourmet). Those were the only three. So I grew up watching Jeff Smith,” Charles said, saying he would sit and watch Smith rather than cartoons.
“It was the greatest thing in the world to watch that stuff and create this. At 14 and 15, I knew what I wanted to do. You couldn’t talk me into anything else. … Man, you can have my schoolbook, I was going to have a cookbook,” he said.
“As soon as I got out of high school, boom, I went to south Florida; and, I learned more in south Florida than I ever could have learned in 10 years in culinary school.”
Charles worked under a master chef, John Turner, at Pier 66. The chef asked Charles what he wanted to do; and, Charles said he wanted to do what Turner did. The chef moved Charles throughout the resort.
“I was blessed. We worked with Malcolm Forbes. We catered his yacht. We did Dan Marino’s birthday party. That was a hoot. That was 1,500 people.
“Just watching that and being a part of how they created all that stuff … it was huge. I learned so much under him. It was so much fun,” Charles said.
After a while, Charles went back to Augusta, working as an executive chef for a Sheraton hotel. The next step for him was executive chef at the Hilton in Nashville.
It was in Nashville where he met entertainers and their drivers. He became friends with the drivers; and, when he decided it was time to try something else, he got his license and began driving tour buses. His first client was BJ Thomas.
“I just went straight on the road,” he said, adding he made a lot more money driving than working as a chef.
Some of the perks of the new job were autographed photos, albums and the ability to bring family backstage.
From time to time, Greg was able to take advantage of being backstage. His first event as far as Charles remembers was when the band Journey played a Vegas gig.
“My little brother would have to have a conversation with me,” Greg said.
“Charles would say, ‘Don’t follow them around.’ Charles would say, ‘If they come up and talk to you, fine; if they don’t, don’t approach them.’ He had to give me that speech every time,” he said.
Greg took a different route than his brother. He joined the US Air Force and became a medic. At one point, Greg went into nutrition. After the military, he worked in hospitals.
One was in Buffalo, NY, he said.
“We opened up a seven-system hospital (there),” he said. It was a unique experience.
His Air Force training had provided a lot of knowledge of special diets.
“That’s what I provided at Walton Rehab, special diets for patients who couldn’t swallow, had dysphasia, due to stroke,” he said. He had to develop recipes for people without an appetite as well. Something tempting.
The brothers found themselves back in the area in 2012.
“Charles was actually living in my house in Augusta at that time; and, he decided he was going to move here,” Greg said. “We talked about downtown Gibson; but, downtown Gibson is not that big.”
Greg said they looked at some buildings down there; but, decided since the building was in the family already, they would make it into a restaurant.
“We’ve got pieces and parts from our grandparents all the way back to our great-grandparents,” he said. Besides those pieces and some of Charles’ memorabilia, some of Greg’s paintings are on display in the restaurant.
Stepping into the restaurant is almost like stepping into your mama’s house – a place with good food and where everybody’s welcome.
The Heritage House is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. They’re open for a buffet on Sundays from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.