Christy Spell and her dad Rick have been in the restaurant business for some time, but one thing they’ve never done is breakfast.
“Dad’s favorite meal is breakfast, so we always wanted to try it,” Christy said recently.
Last week, they opened the doors of their first breakfast spot, and their first original restaurant concept, Grits and Grind in Seacrest Beach. It’s open daily from 7 to 11 a.m. and the food is fresh and delicious. Choose from several different omelets, Eggs Benedict options, loaded grits, huevos rancheros and traditional breakfast items like fluffy pancakes and waffles.
In 2004, The Spell Restaurant Group took over their first restaurant, Brookhaven Pub & Grill in Memphis, Tennessee, where Rick and her dad are from. About a decade later, working on a tip from a friend, they bought George’s at Alys Beach and La Cocina Mexican Grill and Bar in Seacrest from George and Ann Hartley.
The Spells had never even been to South Walton. It didn’t take long for them to get hooked.
Now the family business also runs La Crema Tapas and Chocolate in Rosemary Beach, Saltwater Grill in Panama City Beach.
Last year, Christy and her boyfriend came down to spend the spring and summer season in the area, planning to return to Memphis in time for fall sports (she loves her hometown teams). But, like so many who came before, they fell in love with the area and just didn’t move back. They are full-time residents now.
“If you are in the service industry or construction, why you don’t move here, I just don’t know,” Christy said.
She may be a transplant, but Grits and Grind’s name and logo, which features a grizzly bear, is connected to the family’s Memphis roots. During a historic season in 2011, when the Memphis Grizzlies went on to upset the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA playoffs, Memphis’ Tony Allen described his team’s style as ‘All heart. Grit. Grind.’ That phrase went on to became a mantra for the team as they marched towards their unlikely end-of-season victory.
Christy said feedback has been tremendous. People seem very happy to have another breakfast option in the area.
“What we’ve found is that when people come to the beach, they want to have breakfast and then go spend the day on the beach and then come in for dinner,” she said. “We want to be there to get them that first meal of the day.”