It’s not the best food in the world. It’s thoroughly edible and not too pricey, but it’s not the type of food you go raving about on Yelp. It’s the type of restaurant you can find anywhere in America with brown vinyl booths that invariably don’t match the red vinyl chairs at the wood tables; low pile, dark green carpet; not quite entirely tacky restaurant lighting fixtures that you would never put in your house; a spotlessly clean bathroom; and a regular menu of sandwiches, salads, soups and breakfast served all day. Their specials aren’t generally all that special, but they serve good breakfasts and salads. The specials usually contain the name of a person who works there, one supposes. “Kelly’s Special: Whole wheat pancakes, two eggs and fresh fruit $7.99.” I don’t know any of the employee’s names–they don’t wear name tags–so perhaps the specials are named after someone else entirely. I don’t go there for the food. Well, I do go there for food, but the reason I go to The Grille rather than any of the myriad other restaurants in Los Angeles that serve similar fare is because they allow dogs. Actually, it’s not just that they allow dogs, but they love them. They have water bowls and a little dog section on the menu below the beverages. I have been taking my dog there since she was a puppy. They have a decent sized outside patio with roughly ten tables with umbrellas that aren’t really necessary since they are on the lucky side of the street where the patio is mostly shaded all day. Since it is in southern California, I am able to eat there outside year round, but I have sat there freezing my ass off just so that I can take my dog. Most of the time, I only see the inside when I need to use the restroom.
The people who eat there are an interesting mix. There are old couples that you can just tell by their bearing, and by the friendly greetings they give and receive, that are regulars. They probably eat there at least a couple of times a week. There are families. They have a whole stack of those wooden high chairs piled up near the bathroom. You can tell by the wear and tear that countless children have sat in them over the years. There are even the ordinary Los Angeles amount of celebrities who eat there. On the wall near the bathroom where the high chairs are stacked, there is the obligatory wall of signed head shots from various celebrities who have eaten there. “Thanks for the food!” And, as always, the requisite for any restaurant in Los Angeles, there are a fair number of hipsters that frequent there, too. They have big sunglasses, big hats, big tattoos and little dogs. They sit there silently opposite each other looking at their phones or they talk in voices that are far too loud for their surroundings as if anyone cares what they have to say.
Male and dog and I had breakfast there yesterday morning. It was late Sunday morning so the place was pretty packed. There was no line, but almost all the tables were full. There was an old couple on the right and a pair of hipsters girls on the left. The hipsters, true to form, were both wearing giant sunglasses that made them look like flies, “ironic” t-shirts and they had a white, fluffy, pocket-sized dog. The old couple was taken with the little white dog and started chatting with one of the bug-eyed hipsters about it. The other hipster was talking loudly on the phone and then a male hipster showed up. “Yo, what you doin’ here?” said a male hipster wearing skinny jeans and a backwards trucker hat to the girl hipsters. And then he turned around and yelled at someone in the parking lot, “Yo, [hipster male friend], [hipster girl] be over here!” And another male hipster showed up wearing skinny jeans and a forward facing trucker hat and another round of “What you doin’ here?” etc. commenced. Both girls got up and half-hugged each of the guys kissing them on both cheeks, European style. Meanwhile, the old couple had broken off their conversation about the little white fluffy dog. Little white fluffy dog was now barking and growling at my dog over the din of hipster-speak, and my dog was just staring and wagging her tail in return. Since we had blissfully been seated for a while before all of these shenanigans, we left before they did, but that meant that we had to walk the gauntlet between the old couple and the hipster couple to get out. I grabbed my dog low down on her leash as we walked by. My dog got down on the ground to greet the little white fluffy dog as she often does when she encounters dogs smaller than her. The little white fluffy dog retreated under the chair and started growling. You can’t win ’em all.
Written for the Daily Post Person, Place, Thing Weekly Writing Challenge.