Brothers start beef jerky business to bond
DURHAM (AP) — Paul Brock and Eddie Wales both co-own, or own, restaurants. They both grow tomatoes. And they both love beef jerky.
Brock, 46, and Wales, 48, are biological brothers. They met about three years ago after Brock said he was able to locate and contact his biological brother with help from a company that linked adopted children with biological relatives.
The two have now launched a business called Two Brothers Jerky, through which they’re selling in-house-made beef jerky out of their respective restaurants. The business is a way to get to know his brother better, Wales said.
“Even at our best, we’re only going to see each other every few months,” he said. “Working on a business together is just another way of making up for lost time.”
Brock is a Durham attorney who co-owns The Broad Street Café, a bar, restaurant and entertainment venue on Broad Street in Durham. At the café, employees handle the slicing, marinating and dehydrating, he said. The $9 bags of Two Brothers Jerky are up for sale at the café, hanging behind the bar.
Wales owns the upscale restaurant Motor Supply Co. Bistro in Columbia, S.C. He said he’s sold the jerky at a farmers’ market there, and he has also included it in plates of charcuterie at his restaurant.
“The jerky isn’t exactly our kind of food, but you can put a few pieces on the charcuterie plate at night and it fits right in,” Wales said.
Brock said he was given a recipe for beef jerky years ago, and he has been making it himself. Wales said jerky came up on his first visit to Durham, and it wasn’t long before he asked for the recipe.
“I had not given the recipe to anyone,” Brock said.
They brought the jerky to family gatherings, and later came up with the idea of making it and selling it out of their restaurants. Production is coordinated to make sure the product is consistent between the locations, said Anna Fishel, co-owner and general manager of The Broad Street Café.
Wales said he loves the way it tastes.
“And the people that try it seem to feel the same way,” he said. “I think this is something that could really take off. The story behind it is pretty unique, and pretty cool, and I think that would help sell it.”
Brock said he was adopted, and grew up with his adopted family largely in the Asheville area. He said it was the knowledge of how he feels about his 14-year-old daughter that led him to make the connection with his biological mother.
“To some degree, I really wanted to do it for her, knowing how I felt about my own daughter, and my own stepsons for that matter,” he said. “When you have kids you realize, ‘Wow.’ But it worked out really well.”
He said his late wife, Karen Brock, found a business in the Charlotte-area that helped him locate his biological mother. Attempts to locate that business were unsuccessful for this story.
Brock said he was able to connect with Chris Fotie, a retired pediatric nurse who lives in the Atlanta area, and met her husband and three sons, who are his half-brothers He said the family now meets for vacations and other family gatherings.
Brock said Fotie told him about Wales. He didn’t contact his brother until about three years ago at the urging of his daughter.
“I called him up, dropped that bomb on him, we got to know each other, and, of course, pulled him into the whole big, huge family,” Brock said.
Brock said he has not had DNA testing done to confirm the link, but both he, Fotie and Wales all believe the relationship.
“I’ve never doubted it,” said Wales, who said he hadn’t really been interested in finding his birth parents previously, and had not considered that he had siblings.
After he got the call from Brock, he said, they talked on the phone several times, and Brock spent the weekend with his family, and he also spent time with Fotie.
He said he’s better off now that they’ve found each other.
“My adopted family is fairly small, and now, all of a sudden, I’ve got this big family,” he said. “They’re great people, they’re blood relatives that I never (knew) I had. Why wouldn’t I want to make that connection, and take it further?”
Fotie said she was initially “extremely surprised,” to make the connection, and, at first, she said she cautious. She said she was 14 when she had Wales.
The two boys were born 13 months apart, to the same father. She said she was sent to a home.
“It was at a home for unwed mothers, and in the ‘60s, you went away and hid, and families usually told stories through your absence, and you gave your babies up, and you came home,” she said. “That’s not necessarily the norm today.”
She said the families have integrated, and she believes the lives of both Brock and Wales are richer.
“It’s just the most wonderful outcome that one could hope for, and (from) something that was . very difficult,” she said. “And now I’m just so blessed because they’re both awesome men,” she added. “They’re both really, really good men.”