Grits and Groceries’ chef Heidi Trull didn’t stay retired long.
She’s cooking innovative comfort food at the Due West Highway restaurant again. She also is developing a merchandising line for an online store to market Grits and Groceries foodstuffs and merchandise, and, eventually, gourmet items from other small business ventures.
“Retirement didn’t work for me or Joe,” Heidi said. “The investment group who bought the Grits and Groceries property started doing all this fun stuff, and I said, ‘Hey, wait a minute. I want to do that.’ With the restaurant only being open three days a week for lunch now, it gives us the ability, and energy, to do parties and festivals and farmers markets on weekends. And, I have hired a chef to come in and work with me. Joe works the door and helps us out.
“It kind of gives us the best of both worlds,” Heidi said. “Joe has a corporate job now, where he can still make desserts and cakes, which gives us benefits and retirement. And, I’ve got the backing of this investment group — Saylors Crossroads Property Management — so we can grow and do fun things.”
Kenneth Moyer of Starr is one of the three investment partners, along with Brian Wilson and Trull.
“I’ve always been interested in owning a restaurant but I know nothing about the restaurant business,” Moyer said. “And, I love things that are unique and have a story. There’s nothing like Grits and Groceries around and it supports local farmers. Plus, the restaurant building itself has a lot of history. And, Heidi’s story is amazing. ... The menu is Heidi’s and the cooking is Heidi’s and the staff and the training. We’re just helping out on the business side.”
The restaurant building is a former country store at the junction of highways 185 and 284. It now has the ability to serve restaurant customers and host private events at the same time.
The restaurant near Belton that serves up praline bacon as an addictive meal starter reopened June 3. This time, it has a smaller restaurant footprint and a bigger footprint for events. It has been done successfully, smack dab in the middle of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In the interim, the restaurant has been offering pickup meals-to-go, gift baskets and even a scrumptious cake-of-the-month subscription club. Get a decadent chocolate Coca-Cola cake and other treats delivered to your door.
“The day we were supposed to reopen is the day the governor (McMaster) closed restaurants because of COVID,” Moyer said. “We put it off for a while and started offering takeout. We’ve gradually expanded as laws and executive orders have allowed. ... The couple who recently got married here, utilizing our new event space, had both their first date and their engagement at Grits and Groceries. ... How great is that?”
Heidi said the decision to reopen was made easier by establishing the partnership.
“We have redone a building and turned it into an 80-seat party room,” Heidi explained. “We’re putting a stage out by the barn and we can have a maximum of 150 people. We did our first run with a wedding in late July.”
Dubbed Rudy’s Hen House, the event space offers seating, bars, a stage, lighting and access to the restaurant grounds.
Grits and Groceries had a dinner service Aug. 6, the first one since closing, and it is continuing to have those.
Early in 2019, it was announced the restaurant would be operating mainly as a special events venue, giving chefs Heidi and her husband and pastry chef, Joe, more flexible hours to attend festivals, host gatherings and enjoy family time.
In the summer of 2017, the restaurant, a house and two acres were listed on the real estate market. All this happened after a 14-year-run as a successful farm-to-table restaurant and growing a loyal patron following.
“Originally, Heidi wanted to step away from the day-to-day restaurant stuff, but it’s really hard when you are doing it yourself,” Moyer said. “Having help with the business aspect of it lets her focus on what she really loves to do, which is cook and serve people.”
Grits and Groceries is open for dining 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday through Friday for lunch only, and for special Thursday night dinners.
Meals to go also are available by online pre-order, with pickups Wednesdays between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the restaurant. Online menu options change weekly.
“People think of us for serving breakfasts, but we haven’t served breakfasts in five years,” Heidi said, noting food fans should watch for details about a live music and dinner series. The series has themes such as Burgers and Beer.
Heidi said servers are wearing masks and more disposable paper products are in use.
“In the last two months, our food costs have gone up 40%, among things that we don’t get from our local farmers,” Heidi said. “I joke that we order food and wait to see what comes in so we know what to cook. We couldn’t get Duke’s mayonnaise for a whole week.”
On the upside, Heidi said customers are thrilled to get a G&G fix and it’s not uncommon for the restaurant to sell out of menu items.
“Our customers are glad to see us back,” Heidi said.
For information, visit gritsandgroceries.com.