On the way to the Little Grill Collective (a Harrisonburg original and LEGEND) with Brandy and my kids, a discussion occurred about superheroes. I’m sure Cal started it because he’s absolutely obsessed with taking over the universe. The super power he would most want to have is to shoot “fire lasers” out of his eyes. Bree wants the power of invisibility; Brandy’s son, Blake wishes he could see a thought bubble over people’s heads so he can literally read their minds. How cool would THAT be? And would the bubbles make that sound like on VH1’s Pop-Up Video? Even better. Brandy touts time travel as her superpower of choice (and to be honest, that’s not a bad idea for me, either). I’ve already named her Brandybot because of her ability to take awesome photos of herself using her Gumby/Elastigirl/bionic arm.
Anyway, to the Grill we went, camera and notebook in tow. MexiNite. Oh, baby. Two-dollar Dos Equis and all-you-can-eat authentic Mexican food, prepared with authentically fresh ingredients, by deliciously authentic people.
We were a bit early–Mexi nite doesn’t actually start til 5pm. We were greeted by two employees prepping the food we’d be privileged to soon devour; one other occupied table; and Dr. Dog on the stereo. You know, it’s good it was not crowded when we arrived. Brandy was able to move around and photograph things without awkwardly dangling her strap in someone’s face, and Cal was full of himself and a bit annoying. I mean “enthusiastic.” No matter; by our second beer, the place was slammed.
Our waitress was Camille, and I had what I thought was a senior moment/deja vu because I could have sworn she worked somewhere else and NOT at the Grill. I checked my surroundings: bike, Gonzo, Yoda, Trivial Pursuit cards… yes, this is the Grill.
Turns out she also works at Jack Brown’s and USED to work at Clementine. Of course! She’s served me many a beer there. Funny how you only recognize people in their “original environments.” Anyhoo, in talking with Camille, we learned that not only is she working two jobs, but she’s also involved in a documentary about the Maasai culture and the change it’s undergoing. You can find information about it here. If you like what you see, you can attend the fundraiser Camille’s organizing to raise money for farming initiatives in Kenya, being held at the Blue Nile in March. Talk about super powers—someone give this woman a cape.
It was nice chatting with Camille, and her service was great. The food, as always, was excellent. My favorite is the potato roll-up. But honestly, any food that delivers sour cream to my mouth is a favorite.
I could go on and on about why I love the Little Grill so much. I’ve been going there since I moved here in 1993 and it’s one of my favorite places in the entire world. Just being in there makes me grateful to have something so unique and humbly special in my town. So here are just a few reasons why we love the Grill.
1. Sunday brunch. ‘Nuff said. There are no words; just go and try it. It’s religious.
2. The people who work there are just cool. As Brandy put it, “this place is full of slashers.” Take Camille. She works at the Grill/Jack Browns/Kenya. Ashley Hunter, who was also there tonight: LGC employee/fantastic singer. Chris Howdyshell, whose face was notably absent the day we were there: LGC employee/musician/Open Mic host/happy guy. And the list goes on. And they’re all worker/owners, too, which is why the food and the service is always perfect.
3. They are socially conscious. From the food quality to the shirts they sell, the Grill cares about the planet, the local economy, and you. They buy as much locally-produced food as they possibly can, and organic/cruelty free to boot. They make everything from scratch so you know what you’re eating is wholesome and nutritious. They buy fair trade items so you know your purchase is not exploiting someone somewhere. Many of the shirts they sell are actually re-purposed—they buy shirts at thrift stores, then screen print the LGC design on them.
They operate a soup kitchen and hold lots of community events at Our Community Place, which opened a few years ago (BTW, I tried to link to their website, but it doesn’t appear to be working). They’ve just been a peace-loving, forward-thinking part of our community for a very long time and I can’t say enough about them. Go there. You’ll feel it when you walk in.
4. They promote the goings-on in Harrisonburg. Whether it’s an art show, a local band, a benefit, a museum exhibit, a film festival… you can find it all on their giant bulletin board. They are truly community-minded, and most of the folks who work there are also heavily involved in these community events themselves.
5. There’s so much to do in that teeny, tiny place. While we were there, we (obviously) ate a great meal and had lots of laughs, but I also played Crazy Eights with my kids (Cal kicked our butts pretty soundly).
Brandy and I looked through the Muppets lunchbox stuffed with random notes people have left over the years. Bree and Cal played with the big bucket of Potato Heads. You can also enjoy trivia, look through old photo albums, and write in the “Book of Alternative Commandments,” or whatever it’s called—it was missing tonight when we were there. Has anyone seen it??
6.The Elvis picture. It speaks for itself. I won’t even try.
Obviously, you HAVE to go to the Little Grill as soon as humanly possible. It’s on North Main St., north of Chanello’s where Main and Liberty meet, and just past the (garish) NAPA Auto-Parts store. Park on the street. Sunday brunch starts at nine, but you better get there at 8:30 if you want to make the first seating. Don’t worry; you’ll have great conversations with other Harrisonburgonians while you wait. Just wear your sidewalk shoes. I promise you’ll feel good when you come out of there.