Families, memories and a bright future that celebrates the community are the common words spoken individually by all of the Van and Frankie Britt children, grandchildren, and even the great-grandchildren. A four-generation gathering on any given Sunday afternoon is usually a monumental event for most families, but for the Britt’s, Sunday afternoon at Summit Chase gives them time to enjoy the surroundings in which they work on a more personal note. A shared meal, a group photo, and time to reminisce about the time shared in work and play over a forty-year time frame gave each member a chance to voice personal thoughts on how they are part of a larger community; a larger and more encompassing family outside of their own.
Summit Chase Country Club became a family business on March 15, 1980, when Van Britt was approached by Wayne and Jimmy Mason with a proposal from C&S Bank. The country club was part of a larger foreclosure and the bank was looking for someone local to take over the property. “I had been in the restaurant business in Lawrenceville,” says Van. “It looked like a solid idea and a great opportunity.” That opportunity changed where and how Van and Frankie would raise their children. “We did everything here at the club,” says Frankie Britt. “Even on sick days, the kids would just curl up on the couch and make a day of it.”
Their children, Don, Adrienne and Dusty Britt are all South Gwinnett graduates. Each one has a different perspective on time growing up at Summit Chase and within the hometown of Snellville. With a few years dividing their graduations, each of Van and Frankie Britt’s children found a different way to contribute to the family business.
Don remembers the day his dad bought Summit Chase. “I skipped school that day and went to work with him,” says Don. “It made a huge impression on me that we were buying this business,but I didn’t have any idea of what it would mean to me in the long run.” By the time Don left for college at Furman University, he had been a lifeguard, done grounds maintenance, waited tables and a host of other jobs that gave him the experience he would need sooner rather than later. “I remember leaving for college and thinking I would not come back to Summit Chase,” says Don. “What I got from my parents was a very strong work ethic and that was an important lesson.”
That work ethic and the strong tie to family gave Don just what he needed when, in 1991, Van Britt’s health took a serious turn and he was called upon to step up to run the business. “We gave Don a crash course in what it took to run Summit Chase,” says Van. “He has taken it and run with it.”
Adrienne Britt-Levesque works in the family business as the controller, but her role goes far beyond the label. It was Adrienne to whom everyone in the room looked for family photo instructions and guidance during the Sunday dinner event. She was the center of activity surrounded by all four generations and seemed very comfortable in her role. “I remember my first job here,” says Adrienne. “I answered the phones in the lobby during the summers I was 12 and 13.” Being a part of a family business at the country club meant that she would work all sorts of jobs during the summer and then eventually in high school, she began the work-release program which allowed her to learn everything from life-guarding and dining room to a job in the office. “I left for 10 years and lived in all parts of the world,” says Adrienne. “This is home and a good atmosphere to have brought up my children.” There are memories to last a lifetime of good friends and family events. Having her grandchildren around now makes the time even better. Her oldest grandson,Brayden agrees completely. “It’s fun here,” he says in a clear, proud two-year-old voice before running off to find one of his cousins.
The youngest son of Van and Frankie Britt, Dusty also graduated from South Gwinnett and has been part of the working family at Summit Chase. Memories of the people and events have shaped his life as well. “There are some really great people here,” says Dusty. “It was a good place to grow up with plenty to do.” His favorite memories included the swim team. “I practically lived in the pool back then.”
Children and families have been the mainstay and focus at Summit Chase. From the early days when Hugh “Daddy-Boy” and Lois “Big-Mama” Britt would come to help out around the club, evidence can be seen of true family influence.“We still use Big-Mama’s banana pudding recipe here in the dining room,” says Adrienne. “Everyone loves it and expects it to taste the same every time.” Good food is what many memories are about. Other good memories seem to center around the holiday fun that is planned and experienced at the club. “My favorite thing is on holidays and Sunday Fun Days when my dad, Don, plays DJ by the pool,” says Mackenzie Britt. “I get to hang out with my friends, dance, and swim and have a great time.” Reflecting on his older sister’s sentiment is Grayson Britt. “It is lots of fun to grow up here and meet different people all the time,” says Grayson. “I have good memories of my big family and love to be here.” His favorite place to hang out when he wants some quiet time is his grandfather’s office. “It is a great place to get my homework done. “ All three of Adrienne’s children have found Summit Chase a good place to grow up and have jobs too. “Now that I have children of my own, it is even more important to have a great place for them to enjoy what I enjoyed growing up,” says Alicia Mohr. Adrienne’s sons, CJ and Xander both run track at Brookwood High School, but find much of their fun around the pool in the summer. “We have met some really close friends here at the club,” says CJ. “It has been a great opportunity to do many different things and we are always active.” Xander agrees that being active is really important and getting to relax among people you know well is a wonderful way to spend summers. “There is always plenty to do,” says Xander. “We can swim, play tennis or go hit some golf balls instead of just hanging out at our house.”
All four generations of the Britt family agree that the last forty years were filled with memories of growing up among their own family and the families of club members. Celebrations, events, holidays and just a simple round of golf have all produced memories that have helped the club to grow into a community standard in the Snellville area. The new monthly publication developed for celebrating 40 years is named re:Member. “The name literally means ‘regarding member’which is a concept that’s been pivotal to the club’s success; that is, Summit Chaseis a country club that’s about YOU vs. other clubs where you abide by their rules,” says Don. “Then put the letters together and they spell REMEMBER!” Summit Chase is committed to helping members and the surrounding community continue to make good memories to last a lifetime.