Lincolnton native Roger Gray served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2005 through 2009. Now, he’s serving up food to area residents at the L-Town Grill.
The restaurant, located on Country Club Road in Lincolnton, opened in May. The site was previously home to other restaurants, including Moose’s Pizzas & More and Hannah’s BBQ.
Gray said he’s happy with the location, which allowed many of its previous occupants to move on to “bigger and better.”
He added about $6,000 worth of equipment to the facility, in addition to repainting and cleaning up some of the interior, Gray said. Most of the exterior was left as is, though Coca-Cola umbrellas were put up at the outside tables. In getting set up, he said he’s received a lot of help from others.
Gray, who is also studying criminal justice at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, became interested in the restaurant business through a friend, who has opened several restaurants himself and who advised him that it could be a good investment to help pay for school. He also taught him many tricks of the trade, including his way around a kitchen.
Though he has only one semester left at CVCC, he plans to continue operating the business after he gets his degree. Currently, he and his wife, Brandy, are running the restaurant together, and he said he would like to bring in a few more relatives as employees eventually, adding that he hopes to keep it within the family.
With his background in the military and his business just across the street from the VFW Post 1706, Gray noted that he wants to support fellow veterans as much as possible, and he does so by offering discounts and supporting raffles. Additionally, in keeping with its small-town feel, discounts are also available for senior citizens, police and firemen.
Each week, he experiments in the kitchen with specials, such as sweet-potato hushpuppies and burgers inspired by TV episodes on the Food Network. Regular menu items also include sandwiches, salads, po’boys, hot dogs, barbecue and more.
He said that all of the products he purchases are sold within the state.
While the first few months of business have been slow, Gray said, he thinks that positive word-of-mouth will help bring in new customers. In fact, he already has a few regulars, and he noted that most people who come in eventually return.
He also has plans to install an overhang outside, similar to a drive-in, at some point, thereby filling the void in the community left behind when It’s Grill closed, Gray said.
“If I can get them in the door, I believe they’ll stay,” he said.
L-Town Grill is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.