With so many big changes happening at the Grill this summer, we thought it would be helpful to give you all some definite answers to the most frequent questions we’ve been asked!
Why have you all decided to close at night?
We are ready to focus on what we do well, and knock it out of the park! More than a dozen new restaurants have opened downtown, most of them with full bars, and a focus on lunch and dinner. We are confident that we are settling into our niche, as a local breakfast spot. We have been sourcing local ingredients for more than 15 years, and are excited to continue to develop that strength as well as have the opportunity to develop more of a seasonal menu. That and we see a lot of opportunity for our space at night.
Are you not getting enough business at night?
When you think of The Little Grill what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For most people it’s breakfast. We have felt for a while that sustaining our dinner specials and training new staff to prepare and serve them is detracting from our breakfast service. We are not getting enough business to justify offering a full menu, and the staff to run it and stay open when we have the demand for our breakfast that we do, and a growing demand to host personal events at the Grill. We are excited to explore the possibilities to serve our community by offering an intimate, meaningful community space for presentations and discussions, fundraising events, a location for reunions, family gatherings, music, game nights, and many infinite other possibilities that give us an opportunity to make the space vibrant and thriving.
Is your business suffering?
No, in fact you could suggest otherwise. We have seen the demand for breakfast and lunch increase significantly over the last few years. Internally we have a fantastic group of dynamic, creative and committed worker-owners and trial members who are excited to have the opportunity to develop more seasonal, made-from-scratch menu items that the Grill is known for, and to try our hand at more specialized community offerings in the evenings.
Are you all not making enough money?
In a lot of ways it’s more about the health of the business than it is money. We feel that this move will make us a healthier business for the worker-owners, employees, and help us deliver the best service and food to our customers. Unfortunately nights have been a strain on our resources for some time. Thus…we are excited to be able to find our focus and breathe fresh energy into our daytimes and our menu as we go more seasonal and offer breakfast till 3pm.
Are you downsizing your staff?
Our staff will become smaller. Fortunately, we are able to make this change without anyone losing their jobs. How? Largely because of our timing and circumstance. We knew that we would be losing at least 5-6 of our staff by the end of the summer anyway. Also, because we are a collective, we have a built-in buffer. Many of our worker-owners are cross-trained on roles within the restaurant, and “off-shift” managerial responsibilities that they can devote time and energy to.
Will you still be having shows?
Short answer is yes. Longer answer is, they will look different. After we begin our new hours, we will selectively offer shows that make sense for our space. Certainly we have felt the affect as other venues have developed and established themselves downtown (Court Square Theater, the Artful Dodger, Clementine, the Gold Pony (formerly the Blue Nile), and 3 notch’d. Places that offer a bar/show scene where it is a focus of their business. We have a long history of hosting shows at the Grill and we want to continue to offer them. The difference will be that we might be more selective or intentional with these shows. We do look forward to creating intimate and lively environments for the artists who find our small venue a good fit for them. Stay tuned!
What happened to Open Mic?
Open mic was never the same after our beloved Chris Howdyshell stepped down from his role as MC. He held open mic for (HOW MANY YEARS?) and brought a special touch to it. We also felt our performer’s draw to other open mic’s that have emerged (the Dodger, Ruby’s, 3 notch’d). It stuttered to a stop. Literally, not enough people were showing up to hold an open mic, and often we found ourselves finishing within a half an hour, or not having one at all.
Are all the owners on board with this change?
Yes. Many owners have been campaigning for these changes for several years. While others needed to gain valuable first hand experience with the business in order to come to the same conclusion.
Why is my favorite dish leaving the menu?
We have maintained the same lunch menu for more than 15 years. As a progressive establishment we want to make room in our menu to offer you seasonal, local, wholesome, made from scratch meals. We have been striving toward incorporating more local ingredients into our menu every year. In order to really embrace our local producers and highlight their ingredients we had to make room in our menu for new items that will rotate to reflect the season. We picked our top 5 sellers to keep and modified many of our other items so they could reflect the season. You may notice your favorite item is going by a new name, has an updated look or maybe totally gone. Get ready for a dynamic menu that changes with the turn of the season. Your favorite items may make a comeback in the winter or as a lunch special, so stay tuned to our facebook and website for these changes.
What’s on the new menu?
Get ready to be asking that question with the change of the seasons. Currently we will be offering some brand new items like the Soba Peanut Bowl, Sweet Potato Veggie Burger, The Hungry Mother Bowl and the Peanut Chicken Pita Sandwich. We also have restructured some new items to reflect the seasons and incorporate more local ingredients. For Summer we will have a roasted red pepper hummus, pico de gallo, summer grilled veggies (multi colored peppers, squash and zucchini). You can find these items in our new and improved veggie burrito, breakfast burrito, beth’s favorite, veggie omelet, potato boat, hummus and pita and nachos. We will be keeping it fresh by changing these up to reflect the colder months, so look forward to beet hummus, seasonal salsas and grilled veggies including sweet potatoes, apples and kale. We have improved our felafel recipe (it’s now gluten free!), are sourcing handmade pita’s from Halal Food Market and have spruced up some of our dishes like the greek salad and hummus and pita. We are going to continue to improve our menu by looking forward to gluten free bread options from a local baker. And keep the suggestions coming.
What happens to Mexi Night after August?
As we’re moving to a more seasonal menu, Mexi night will go away when the ingredients aren’t in season anymore. We too love Mexi, and have hopes to bring Mexi night back again sometime possibly next summer.
What about Down Home Night?
Many of the tasty sides you have had on down home night such as collard greens, grilled squash, watermelon feta salad, lemon green beans etc. will be making their way to our rotating seasonal side menu. Each week we will offer one new seasonal side. If you still want the whole meal we will be offering it as a choice from our catering menu. If you can gather a group of folks that want to relive down home night contact us about catering options.
Where will I get my portabello from now??
You never know when a reincarnated version of the Portobello Sandwich will appear, it might not look the same, but items will rotate. For now we have so many new and tasty items to choose from. We really think you will find something that you love (because we do).
Can I get the recipe for the Port/Buffalo?
We have always had a dream of putting together an LGC cookbook featuring retired and favorite recipes. Now that we will have more time on our hands to work on fun projects this may happen sooner. Stay tuned and let us know what you want to see in the LGC cookbook.
How do you intend to stay seasonal with your menu?
A seasonal menu is new territory for us, so bear with as we get used to this new and delicious process. For now we have modified some existing menu items like the Veggie Burrito/Ron’s Burrito, Nachos, Go Ask Alyce, Hummus and Pita as well as Beth’s Favorite, Veggie Omelet, Potato Boat and Breakfast Burrito. They will contain our seasonal grilled veggies, seasonal salsa or seasonal hummus. So be sure to ask your server for that information. We are going to offer a rotating seasonal side option for sandwiches that changes weekly. We also have some brand new items on the menu that may exit at the end of summer to be replaced by something new. We will do our best to advertise when things are changing so stay tuned to our website and facebook page.
Which farmers are you working with?
We work with a variety of producers. Currently we work closely with Season’s Bounty CSA, New Community Project/Muddy Bike Gardens, Hickory Hill Farm, Steve Schweigert, Ryan’s Fruit Market, and the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction for produce. Year round we are purchasing ingredients from Wade’s Mill, Heartland Harvest, Edgewood Farms, Country Village Bakeshop, Mr. J’s, Mt. Crawford Creamery, and (Insert Breweries). We are always looking to expand locally sourced ingredients.
When do the changes go into effect?
The changes begin the last week of June. We will begin the new menu on Tuesday, June 30th, and the new hours on Wednesday July 1st.
Will you still have Beer?
Yes! We will have a smaller beer selection for Mexi night and the occasional customer that wants beer with lunch. (Negra, 8 point, session lager, baba black, omission)
Will you still have creme brulee?
We’re thinking of having one dessert on the menu permanently (besides cookies). It will likely be a rotating dessert. At this time we’re not sure of the future of our crème brulee.
What kind of community events for night times do you have in mind?
Community organizing, meetings, fundraisers, all games, shows, reunions, if you have any other ideas be sure to let us know!
Are you going to have someone in charge of these events you want to do at night?
Yes we will have a special events coordinator to head up the organization of these evenings.
Do you think you’ll ever open up at night again?
Due to the collective nature of the Grill it certainly could happen, especially if downtown Harrisonburg expands further north, but for the time being we will open for events, not for dinner service.