Only at the Little Grill

A Ryan Perspective:

I have family in Indianapolis, and they told me about this new “organic” restaurant they had just experienced. We were all excited to think that the nationwide interest in local, whole food eating might be growing. But was this another “Grill?” No. And here’s why…

A couple weeks later, I heard from my family again. They said that they were so excited about this new restaurant that they took a good friend so that she might also share in their joy. Her friend cannot eat wheat gluten.

When it came time to order, their friend ordered the closest thing she could find to meet her dietary restrictions. She asked for the hamburger but asked that it come without the bun. The server informed her that they could not accommodate this request… for it would ruin the “integrity” of the dish.

While I can understand the logic behind the server’s argument, I cannot believe this story. I’ve turned down a customer’s request to make vegan omelet out of flax seed egg replacer because I felt as though serving brown mush and calling it an omelet might give the wrong impression of our cooking ability. I have, however, seen the Grill bend over backwards (and then some) to accommodate our customer’s dietary needs and quirky preferences. I live far away, so I can brag on the Grill a bit. Here are some “customer-first” efforts I’ve seen/heard of at the Grill:

  • Reworking the Thousand Island Dressing recipe on the fly to make a vegan version so a customer could enjoy a truly vegan Tempeh Rueban (also, with vegan cheese substituted instead of swiss).

  • Making specialty hard shell corn tacos so a customer could enjoy Ron’s Mexi Plate without flour.

  • Going through a months-long recipe revision process of our buckwheat pancake so it is not only gluten-free, but also vegan, yummy, and something you’d come back for.

  • Driving mid-shift to Red Front to pick up an avocado for a customer really needing an Avo Melt when the kitchen was short on avocado

  • Keeping a stock of a special sauce on hand for essentially one customer for one night a week (and we do it gladly… and would do it for you too once you attend nearly a decade of consecutive Mexi nights).

 And there are more, boy are there more. But maybe I’ll stop for the moment. Anyone want to add their own?


LilGrill App Officially Launches!

The LGC’s app, “LilGrill” officially launches today.  Feel free to click here for the AppStore details.  We are very excited to offer a unique way for our beloved customers to interact with the LGC community.

What does the app offer?

1. Take Out Menu- Breakfast, lunch or dinner, we made it super easy to find what you want and call us right from the app!

2. Direct Connection to this Blog- Now you can read our blog wherever you are.

3. Pics- You can check out our Flickr picture feed.  We try to keep up some colorful pics!

4. Shout Outs and Shout Posts- You can post a shout out and/or add a pic from your camera.  This is like a Facebook “Wall” exclusively for those with the app.

5. LGC Trivia- Try our trivia game to find out some fun facts about the LGC.  If you get a 100% correct, you win a free bumper sticker!

6. LGC Notifications- Every once in a while, we like to send a out a fun coupon, deal or simple contest.  If you have the app, you get the notifications!

We are always on the look out for fresh ideas and new content, so send us your thoughts and suggestions.  We love to hear from you!

Another “Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy” Story

A Kenneth Perspective:

A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to go to the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy. I kept going back and forth on deciding if I should go because I was about to move into my new house, but I felt like it would be worth my while. I’ve been at the Grill for two years and a member for one. I do not have much experience with collectives outside of the Grill so this was a great chance to see what is going on in the world with other collectives and see how they run things.

I had an amazing time. I met so many nice people. It was great to be around so many people who understand the joys and struggles of working in a collective. At the Grill, it is easy to get caught up in your on and off shift work. Sometimes there isn’t much time left over to talk about being a collective and what that means to you and the business. But this weekend that’s all I had time for.

Continue reading

Being a Leader vs. Being a Boss

A Ryan Perspective:

A few months ago I took notes on an impromptu conversation after a membership meeting about “giving negative feedback,”(Also known as, “how to encourage people’s behavior in a healthier direction without sounding like a jerk,” a.k.a. “how to suggest a change in current action without being oppressive and verbally violent,” a.k.a. “how to make a timely suggestion without tripping over yourself four times to make sure you don’t ‘hurt’ anyone.”)

I don’t know everything, but sometimes I see something that just shouldn’t be happening.  The question is, how do I  ask/tell someone to do something differently or to try doing something my way without: Continue reading

The Eastern Conference on Workplace Democracy: Kendall’s Perspective

A Kendall Perspective:

You might recall, not too long ago, a particular weekend where you arrived at the front door of our humble little restaurant- full of hope and visions of the Beth’s favorite or tofu grinder that would soon fill your hollow belly.

Only you found the building locked tight, barring your admittance. Perhaps you pressed your nose to a darkened window and peered wistfully through the glass before retreating to contemplate another, if less gratifying, breakfast option.

If this is the case, we are very truly sorry for the disappointment we may have caused you, and for the second-rate breakfast you were forced to eat as a result.

However, we are not at all sorry for the closing itself, as it gave some of us the opportunity to spend a weekend in communion with over 200 other cooperatively-minded individuals- hailing from the east coast and beyond. Continue reading

Blog Posts Now Through Facebook!

A Blogger Perspective:

Hey everybody!  The posts at the LGC Blog will now be shared with Facebook. Basically this means when one of the LGC bloggers write a post, all the Facebook friends will know about it.

It’s been a great blog so far.  Most of the entries are written by worker owners who each give their own perspective and flavor to each post.  There are personal stories, funny anecdotes, touching witticisms and quite a bit of earned-wisdom to be found throughout.

Readers are invited to respond with their own comments at any time.  We hope our little blog can be a helpful digital-community resource!

If you haven’t had the chance, check it out.


My “Eastern Conference on Workplace Democracy” Trip

A Mariana Perspective:

Several weeks ago Oliver and I traveled to Baltimore, MD for the Eastern Conference on Workplace Democracy.  I was hesitant to bring a two-year-old into this environment, but the opportunity for my husband Chris to be home alone and pack up our entire house for our up-coming move was too great to pass up.  There was also a child-care collective which would be there to hang out with the kiddies, which seemed like a great resource.

The conference was wonderful! There were many many other collectives represented there.  It was so energizing to be reminded that we are part of a greater movement.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind: rolling silverware, flipping pancakes, negotiating schedule requests… It’s not hard to forget that we are doing more than other restaurants.

When we are at the Little Grill we spend so much energy talking and thinking about the little details, (how to fit the new refrigerator in and how to cut labor costs) but at the conference we were primarily focusing on what it means to be a collective and how to make our lives better within the collective.  As an “in-active” activist, this type of connection with a greater movement and a greater cause is so energizing. Continue reading

Chance Meeting

Left to Right: Jerry Holsopple, Del Hershberger, Tom Frank, Steve and Betsy Dintaman.

A Customer Perspective:

We had some customers email us this story.  Basically, folks from 3 different states ran into each other at the LGC.  They’re commonality is that they worked together in Lithuania.  Enjoy!

We are home in Harrisonburg for the summer from our work at LCC International University ( in Klaipeda, Lithuania. When Tom Frank, from Connecticut and also a professor at LCC, visited and wanted to take us to lunch today we of course chose the Little Grill. We had no sooner sat down than the door opened and in walked Jerry Holsopple, an occasional LCC prof from Harrisonburg, with Del Hershberger from Hesston Kansas who spent 2009/10 school year at the university. What fun to reenact the times we have all sat around tables together in Klaipeda! Maybe soon the Little Grill will have Svyturys (popular Lithuanian beer) and kepta duona (fried rye bread) on the menu.

Betsy and Steve Dintaman

More from the Vegan Black Metal Chef!

Here’s another installment from the Vegan Master himself…

You may wonder what compels this kind of video into existence.  Well, here are some words from the VBMC.

The Vegan Black Metal Chef Project has 2 main purposes.

1) Help answer the question “what do vegans eat”/show vegan cooking in the most informative and fun way possible while making some great music to go along with it.

2) Help people bring consciousness to their lives and actions.

The first will be addressed with of course the videos and various articles under the “Feed Your Body” category.

The second will be addressed with a series of articles and videos under the “Feed Your Mind” category.

My Greatest wish is that you find this useful. Thank youall for all of the great support.

Check out the site at:

You Can Take The Man Away From The Grill…

But you can never take the Grill out of the man…

A Ryan Perspective:

You might remember me. You might have forgotten about me. You might never have seen me. I’ll write to you just the same. I was the tall, bearded guy often seen in the kitchen on Mexi nights and Saturdays. But then, there have been numerous tall, bearded guys floating in and out of the Grill lately, so sorry if that doesn’t get you any closer to a recollection. Even still, I write to you just the same…

June 14th, 2011 was my last day at the Grill. I think I had falafel. At 3am the next morning, me and my little family (wife Janie and magic-baby-daughter Juniper) packed up and moved to Flint, Michigan, for good. It was a hard move (Harrisonburg is a jealous, possessive siren that calls many back), but we’re glad we’re here now. I heard once that one should never let the past nor the future steal the present, so I’ll stop the intro and get to it… Continue reading