October 21, 2020

Business ‘blooming’ at Grunow’s

Business has been “blooming” at Grunow’s Kitchen since its opening on June 28, and the restaurant’s owner has big plans for the future.

Grunow’s Kitchen is unique in that it is 100 percent gluten and nut free and can accommodate various other dietary needs, as well. For many people who are extremely sensitive to gluten and nuts, it is the one place they can eat out with their families.

“We have some people who are very grateful we’re here, because of their family members,” owner Patricia Grunow said.

Grunow is a Mississippi native who has lived on the Peninsula for 35 years and taught chemistry and algebra at York High School for 10 years.

She was inspired to start the restaurant after helping care for several family members who required specialty diets. Her parents needed a low sodium diet, and her sister needed a low potassium diet. In addition, a friend with celiac disease inspired the focus on gluten free foods and foods that tend to be allergens.

“Everything I’ve done, I’ve realized, leads you to the next stage,” Grunow said. “Everything comes together.”

Grunow, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Virginia, found the spot in a shopping center on Route 17 and remodeled the interior. There’s also a garden to the side to grow items used inside the restaurant. It has produced thyme, onions, sage, parsley, basil, lavender, tomatoes, okra, eggplant, lettuce, chives, green peppers and more, Grunow said.

Any other items that can be sourced locally are, including honey from Horseshoe Point Honey in Suffolk.

Menu items include a grilled Portobello appetizer, vegetarian chili, a grilled chicken salad, a bacon bliss melt, blackened salmon, parm-crusted flounder, eggplant cacciatore and more.

The menu was developed with the help of executive chef Nathaniel Matthews Jr. Also part of the staff are the married team of Anna Glider, operations manager, and Michael Hildebrand, the assistant manager.

“We’ve got a pretty good team,” Glider said. “We’re becoming steadier and steadier and busier.”

Glider said that while the original inspiration for the restaurant was those with allergies, the majority of clients do not have allergies and just enjoy the food.

“We wanted to be able to provide our community comfort meals with healthy alternatives,” Glider said. “Those that do not have allergies and those that do not even know we’re 100 percent gluten and nut free come here for a meal and say, ‘Well, this is some real good comfort food.’”

Grunow’s next goals are a meal prep service, catering, cooking classes and a food truck.

“Nobody has a gluten-free food truck available for any of the events around,” Grunow said.

Furthermore, Grunow is still in school to becoming a certified dietary manager, which helps her learn how to make healthy substitutions in food, she said.

“It really has made a big difference in knowing how you can modify foods,” she said.

The restaurant also aims to be environmentally responsible. It uses compostable straws and composts everything possible, using it in the garden to grow more food.

“We also don’t prep more than we can serve, so sometimes we will run out of things,” Glider said.

Grunow said she has enjoyed the opportunity to run her own business that helps the community.

“It has really been blooming,” she said. “It’s going to be marvelous next year.”

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and is closed Sundays and Mondays. It is located at 4336 George Washington Memorial Highway. Call 988-0900.