Get out of the City!
- Category: Blog
- Published: Thursday, 02 March 2017 15:11
The only reason to come to Leola...
If you’ve never been to our little restaurant, or had the chance to meet us, allow me to begin by introducing ourselves! My name is Gracie, and along with my amazing hubby, Jim, we own this sweet little restaurant in Leola called Gracie’s on West Main. (Well, maybe not so little anymore, but I’m getting ahead of myself…)
Jim and Gracie, owners of Gracie's on West Main
We opened in June of 2013, with just a couple dimes to rub together and a dream that maybe we could make something of this beautiful old building we found in little old Leola, Pennsylvania. My husband has always been in the restaurant business, in some form or another, for a little over 20 years. I guess you could say he always knew this was where he was meant to be. He is a man of many talents, but if you’ve ever had the pleasure of having a meal cooked by him, you know that his true genius is in the kitchen.
I never really started out wanting to be in the restaurant business. I went to college and double majored in Latin and History. I graduated in 2008, right when the recession hit, and I joke that for my generation, a bachelors of arts in history qualifies you to be a barista. Because that’s where I ended up after several temp jobs and a failed attempt at hotel sales. It was after a few years of running a cafe in Strasburg that I realized I wanted more, and could do more. Jim was stuck in a rut in his sales job in the spring of 2013, when we decided to go out on a limb and see if we could make a go of it in a little tiny spot out in Leola. Unlike Jim, I fell into this business by accident... and kinda by accident I fell in love with it.
Our original space in June of 2013, with a very tiny kitchen and seating for about16!
When we started out nearly 4 years ago, we only had about 400 square feet and seating for 16. We thought we’d be a little cafe with counter service and a booming coffee and bakery business. But very quickly, Jim’s amazing menu grew and so did our following. Flash forward nearly 4 years, and several expansions later- we now have seating for almost 150 and a much larger kitchen than the little two burner hot plate and tiny panini grill we started with!
One of our newer dining areas. One of the things I love best about this old building is the character! The old wood trim, the exposed brick, and the history!
Jim likes to joke with people when they say that they never come to Leola,”Well we’re the only reason to come here!” It’s kind of true though… Leola is a lovely little community, but we lack a quaint downtown like Lititz. And the major points of interest for our little town have disappeared over the years. There used to be a great farmer’s market here that unfortunately burned down sometime in the 70’s or 80’s (no one can quite seem to give me an exact time frame- but if you know more I'd love to hear it! I absolutely love learning about the local history around here). There used to be a Stauffer’s grocery store, and a large family restaurant. We were a destination along the historic and classic Rt. 23. But anymore, we seem to be a town that people whiz through on their way to points further east like New Holland or Morgantown.
The truth is, we are only 7 miles from downtown Lancaster and less than a 10 minute drive! We’re so close to the hustle and bustle of the big city, but with all the charm of small town Lancaster county. But our real draw is simple- amazing and unique food made fresh from scratch, an inviting atmosphere with chalk art covering the walls, and a warm and friendly staff eager to make your visit special.
Our Spicy Hash (photo cred @andannabelle Instagram) ~part of our breakfast all day!
If you’ve never been to Gracie’s, then I invite you to come and check us out, at least once. And if you have been here before, then I challenge you to bring a friend who’s never been and show them how special we can be "way out here" in Leola. There’s no better time than spring to get out of the city and explore the local treasures hiding just a few miles outside the city limits.