At the edge of Little River Marina on Lake Allatoona, diners enjoy coastal favorites and picturesque views at J.D.’s on the Lake. Owner and chef Chip Allen grew up on the North Carolina coast, where he formed his love of barbecue and seafood. With decades of experience delighting palates, Chip offers his friends a taste of lake life with a variety of flavors.

ABOVE: The interior of the restaurant bears its name from Ozark starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney. The spot is a popular destination for fans who enjoy visiting real-life production locations for the Netflix series.

After years of offering barbecue at his Woodstock and Acworth restaurants, J.D.’s Bar-B-Que, Chip was eager to bring a new perspective to the table with a seafood-focused restaurant to share his love of the coastal atmosphere. What better place to do it than at the lake? He dreamed of serving boaters who stopped by after a day on the lake as well as diners who drove in. After eyeballing the spot at Little River Marina for a while, he received a call offering him the opportunity to secure the space. He took the bait and ran with it.

Open for only a few weeks during the summer, J.D.’s on the Lake serves between seven hundred and nine hundred people a day, with a focus on tasty seafood and friendly customer service. Seasonal favorites include calabash shrimp, bourbon-glazed salmon, and more.

This carefree lake life experience is about to get a little more complicated, though, as the small bridge over Little River is scheduled for an overhaul. Construction to widen the bridge at the Little River Marina could spell trouble for J.D.’s on the Lake. With truck mirrors pulled in and a decreased speed limit, drivers currently “think thin” through the narrow pass. The prospect of widening the bridge comes as a relief to motorists who dare to venture through the tight space; however, construction could mean traffic detours, traffic back-ups, and a downsized parking lot for J.D.’s, making it challenging to sample his seafood favorites. Even for a seasonal locale, the impact will not go unnoticed. “It’s definitely something we are prepared for,” Chip states, “but we’re optimistic about it. The marina and I have a good relationship. We take care of each other.” According to Chip the marina wants to preserve the restaurant, as it owns the land and the building.

Slated as a 2023–2024 project, the widening will take time. Chip is confident in the future of the restaurant though. “We might shift the layout, extend the deck here and there, but the community supports us,” Chip responds. “They took care of us through COVID. We took care of them through it, and we’ll continue to serve the community regardless.”

Chip recognizes the importance of supporting the people of Cherokee County through charities. J.D.’s participates in the Folded Flag Foundation, which provides scholarships and grants to children and spouses of U.S. military and government personnel who died as a result of hostile actions or combat-related incidents. Last year J.D.’s raised more than $30,000 for the foundation.

ABOVE: J.D.’s on the Lake, located at 6979 Bells Ferry Road in Canton, is open on Fridays and Saturdays from noon until 9:30 p.m. and on Sundays from noon until 9:00 p.m. Photo Credit: AgeOwns Photography

If Chip wants anything known about his slice of heaven on the lake, it is that he is grateful for the staff. “This group works hard to give every person who walks through the door at J.D.’s on the Lake a good experience. I’m very thankful for them. Our customers know them, ask for them, and build good relationships with them. J.D.’s is about great people and great food.”

Visit J.D.’s on the Lake to experience its coastal cuisine and follow J.D.’s on Facebook or Instagram (@jdsonthelake) for restaurant news and updates.