While Ohio Congressman John Boehner prepares to become speaker of the House, his younger brother Greg is working on introducing Middle Georgia to Cincinnati-style chili spaghetti.
John Boehner has represented Ohio’s 8th District, north of Cincinnati, for the past 19 years. All that time — and for several years before — Greg Boehner has been a Georgia resident, working in restaurants in and around Macon. Seven years ago, he bought a closed window-service cafe in Gordon and dubbed it the Front Porch.
“Seemed like a good fit for me,” said Greg Boehner, who grew up mopping floors in Andy’s Family Cafe, the Cincinnati-area restaurant his grandfather opened in 1938. It’s still open, but no longer in the family, he said.
Having a high-ranking congressman for a brother hasn’t brought Greg Boehner much publicity, a situation he doesn’t mind at all. The Wilkinson County Post ran a story on him about three years ago, and a few months back Luke Russert interviewed him for MSNBC, but that’s it, Boehner said.
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Instead, his life centers on Tuesday’s ribeye sandwich special, occasional catering for the BASF kaolin plant down the road, potato soup and pasta.
Recently he opened Front Porch II, a cinder-block place attached to the back of a Jet Food Stores gas station on Ga. 57, about nine miles out of Macon. It bears no indication of powerful connections. The posters on its walls celebrate racing drivers Mark Martin and Kyle Busch, not politicians.
Greg Boehner, who turned 53 the day before this week’s election, said he’s the only one of 12 siblings — nine boys and three girls — who doesn’t still call the Cincinnati area home.
The U.S. Army brought him to Fort Benning, where he married in 1978, he said.
“Married a girl from Dodge County,” Boehner said. They divorced five years ago, but he still lives amicably near his former in-laws in Twiggs County, just down the road from Front Porch II, he said.
The original Front Porch sports a few picnic tables and rough wooden steps on a street corner by the railroad tracks, next door to Farmer Brown’s Odds & Ends & Stuff.
“Hi, Joe,” Boehner called out Thursday afternoon from his perch at a Front Porch table. Joe, a white-haired man walking a dog, stopped to make a salty comment about current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
A tea party flag bearing the National Rifle Association logo hangs next to the serving window at the Front Porch, and Boehner said he shares his brother’s political beliefs. He campaigned for Republican Austin Scott in this year’s 8th District congressional race, but he doesn’t really like controversy.
He prefers a casual chat in local bars or just people-watching, he said.
Boehner has made only one trip to Washington, and that was on a legislative trip with the Licensed Beverage Association, he said. When his brother takes power Jan. 3, he does plan to be on hand, but he’d like to do some sightseeing, too. He wants to look for the name of a family friend on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.
Stickers for Scott and for his brother do adorn the Front Porch’s kitchen door, but they’re underneath an Ohio State sticker.
Boehner prefers NASCAR and the Cincinnati Reds to politics, but he does follow his brother’s career — somewhat.
“I turn on C-SPAN now and then,” he said. “You have to be pretty bored to watch that.”
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.