MIDDLEBURG – The minutes before Grumpy’s Restaurant was scheduled to re-open were filled with frenzied activity inside the popular eatery. There were menus to place on tables, food to be prepped, …
MIDDLEBURG – The minutes before Grumpy’s Restaurant was scheduled to re-open were filled with frenzied activity inside the popular eatery. There were menus to place on tables, food to be prepped, T-shirts to be folded and a final moment for everyone to catch their breath.
“I need these guys to be exceptional today,” co-owner Del Hoard Sr. told his kitchen staff. “Actually, guys, just do what you always do.”
Outside, the line of hungry and eager customers was growing. The dark and foggy conditions created an eerie backdrop. Headlights poked a hole through the thick cover as the line quickly became a crowd.
Then at 5:30 a.m., Courtney Hoard, the wife of co-owner Del Hoard Jr., opened the door and she was quickly greeted with smiles and hugs.
“We got here about 4:40 (a.m.). We wanted to be the first when they opened the doors,” said Middleburg’s Jay Miller.
The restaurant was destroyed on Jan. 19, 2022, by a fire that started with an electrical spark in the wall behind the dishwasher. COVID, supply chain issues, red tape and labor shortages caused several delays in the rebuilding. Nearly a year of frustration and anticipation was replaced with filled stomachs, hot cups of coffee and a few tears.
“It feels good to be back,” Hoard Sr. said. “We never gave up.”
Within minutes, every seat at Grumpy’s was filled. A new line formed outside, and it didn’t subside until the final lunch left the line at 2 p.m.
The only things that distinguished the pre-fire Grumpy’s with the rebuild was the large “GRUMPY’S” signs above the counter and a wooden American flag leading to the restrooms. The GRUMPY’S letters still were covered with soot and char. So was the flag. They serve as a reminder of the restaurant’s journey, Hoard Sr. said.
The rest of the place was rebuilt exactly as the old one. The Hoards resisted the temptation to expand to better accommodate the demand, but they decided coziness and a friendly attention was more important.
Only a few returning customers opened their menus. Most were such regulars, they already knew what they wanted to eat.
Including Miller and his wife, Barb. They took the first booth near the door. He ordered two poached eggs, grits, bacon and unsweet iced tea. She ordered oatmeal, toast and coffee.
“I came up here right after the fire and took photos of the inside,” Jay Miller said. “We’ve been waiting a long time for them to be back. We come up here for the comradery. It’s a very personal place. It’s a family affair here.
“Grumpy’s is a lot more than eggs and grits.”
“We’ve been coming here since they opened,” Barb Miller said. “We love it here.”
Although Grumpy’s is new again, the Hoards were glad to pick up where they left off. That means legions of loyal customers, huge bowls of fresh fruit, big waffles, fresh-squeezed orange juice, eggs and a waiting line that forms before the doors are unlocked.