The Grit in Athens closing after more than 30 years

Popular Athens vegetarian restaurant the Grit is closing after serving patrons in the college town for more than three decades.

The closing, set for Oct. 7, was announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page. The statement read:

To our wonderful customers:

The Grit has been the cornerstone for vegan/vegetarian food in Athens for over 3 decades. We are extremely proud of everything we have accomplished during that time! The restaurant has been there for many a celebration, for graduations galore, family gatherings and so much more.

Unfortunately, things have changed due to the pandemic and we’ve had to re-evaluate our business goals. So, it is with heavy hearts, but with a hopeful eye on the future, that we announce that we are closing our doors at the end of evening service on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022.

We hope that you will join us during the next few weeks to say a fond farewell.

General Manager Jay Totty, who has worked on and off at the restaurant for more than 20 years, said the economic effects of the pandemic took a toll on the restaurant, especially during the past year.

The Grit stayed open throughout the pandemic, but a slower-than-normal summer, followed by an equally sluggish fall, hastened the decision to close.

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“It was a financial decision, and we realized we weren’t going to make it to the end of the year,” Totty said. “Our first priority was to tell our employees and give them as much notice as possible.”

The Grit, a longtime favorite of Athens’ arts and music communities, opened 36 years ago as a coffeehouse. Jessica Greene bought the business a few years later and moved it to its current location at 199 Prince Ave.

For years, the Grit was the only vegetarian restaurant in Athens, but also was known for its weekend brunch and baked goods. The menu since has expanded to include vegan and gluten-free items.

“Our goal has always been to serve really good food, almost comfort food,” Totty said. “We’ve never been overtly political about it. The success of the restaurant speaks for itself. A lot of our customer base isn’t even vegetarian, and they’re always surprised by how good the food is.”

Greene now is focusing on sister restaurant Ted’s Most Best pizzeria. She also is opening Poquitos taqueria next door to the Grit in the coming weeks.

“A lot of people who have worked at the Grit say this is the best job they’ve ever had,” Totty said. “There’s a lot of laughter. It’s a very special place, and the community knows that, too. We’ve seen whole families grow up here, and that’s a beautiful thing.”

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