Early on at The Grit, things were somewhat lean. When the restaurant was young in the early nineties, many people didn’t want to give it a try for fear that vegetarian food would prove to be freaky health food. Hard to blame them, as tofu’s always been our thing. And there was the building itself, old brick with peeling paint, not really near anything else, in a part of our hometown of Athens, Georgia that was a red-light district at night. Yeesh!
Now The Grit is surrounded by thriving businesses. It’s filled with throngs of happy customers who know they’ll get a big delicious meal that just happens to be without meat. They know we’re not food snobs or health police.
Only a small portion of our customers are vegetarian or vegan. Omnivores have always been fans, and we’re old hands at satisfying the more carnivorous folks in Athens. They all know they can get freshly prepared, simple, wholesome food in generous servings.
Continually surprising people with how good vegetarian food can be keeps things fun, but often the surprise is ours. The level of customers’ devotion, the reach of The Grit’s reputation, the degree to which travelers and Athens expats tell us they yearn for Grit food, and the constant requests for our cookbook all continually surprise us. The Grit is small, but people keep showing their love and it makes us proud.
Of course, tofu slinging and guitar slinging go hand in hand around here. The Grit owes much of its personality to its association with the local music scene. From the ninety percent-plus staff who have been or are in bands to the man who owns the building, musically talented and/or obsessed people have helped shape The Grit since its beginning. For better or worse, that’s who we are, and our friends and fans in the music world have been very generous with their support and accolades for Grit food. That’s Athens for you.
But let’s talk about food. Our food is not timidly seasoned. We love garlic, onions, peppers, vinegar, and lots of other ingredients that give food a kick. That’s also what our customers love. But it only works because it’s balanced. To make vegan and celiac lives a little easier, we note all of our dairy-free and gluten-free items on our daily Veggie board and dessert case.
So come share in the spirit that resides in this old building at 199 Prince Avenue, and let good food bring you joy!