Leonard’s Grill celebrates two years of success in downtown Grafton


GRAFTON—Leonard’s Grill celebrated two years of successful service this past Saturday.  The restaurant, that always has a welcoming feel anyway, kicked it up a notch this weekend to bring fun festivities to its clients. 

The owners are Derek and Samantha Watkins, who are high school sweethearts from Barbour County, but Derek’s family has lived in Taylor County for generations.

“My lineage told me Grafton was going to play a major role in my life. My grandfather worked for Leonard’s Grocery for many years as a meat cutter and delivering groceries on the weekend. When I found out the building was going to be available for leasing soon, I convinced my wife to look at the space and she was very supportive,” he said.

“Before we even committed, we had support from our friends and families. We were excited to bring some of the Leonard’s artifacts out of the basement (old shopping cart, register, soda machine, deli scales), bring some new life to the building, and revive a name that had been lost in memory for the past 20 plus years,” Derek added.

They opened Leonard’s Grill on October 2, 2017 and have been going strong ever since. 

To celebrate their second birthday, the staff wore birthday hats and passed out cupcakes and brownies to diners. Guests were given gold tokens that they could turn in for a prize at the end of their meal to remember the day.

And, as the norm, the food was amazing.

“I go there because it has a comfortable, casual atmosphere. The burger choices are plentiful and delicious and the fries are great too,” said diner Kit Ford.

Leonard’s has also become a go to place for many of the Grafton High School students before sporting events and on weekends.

“I like to go to Leonard’s because the atmosphere is so much fun, they have good food and great service,” said GHS student, Mattie Flohr.

The teens like going there so much that when painting corn hole boards of Grafton, they had to include the popular hangout, which the owners proudly displayed outside during the celebration. 

“It’s a really homey feeling, everyone is really nice there. And the food is quick and tastes good, it tastes like a home cooked meal,” said GHS student, Emily Rock.   

But it’s not only teens that sing Leonard’s praises.

“I go there because Leonard’s offers items on their menu that are out of the ordinary for Grafton,” said local, Dave Cantu.

The admiration that their guests feel for Leonard’s is certainly reciprocated by the owners, as Derek said, “I have been extremely blessed with hardworking employees who have committed themselves to serving our community and making an honest living. Most of my employees have been with me since the very beginning!”

He noted that the support from the residents and the community has enabled the business to thrive.

“The support of our community, local businesses, the City of Grafton, and so many vendors has enabled us to provide consistent, full-time positions for each of our employees, while continuing to grow each year. We have some exciting developments in the works for year three, and we cannot wait to share this journey with our community.”

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