Dining with Dan

Breaking Bread in Brookneal

 

Story and Photos by Daniel M. Walker, Contributing Writer

 

Dan Walker

Successful restaurants need a vision, and a lot of love and care.

The vision for the Drug Store Grill in Brookneal, Va., was that of Ricky Pritt. While Ricky has passed away, the love and care of his dream is now in the hands of his wife, Robin, his son, Josh, and Josh’s wife, Jill.

“I remember the first time Dad and I walked into the old drug store,” says Josh. “The 100-year-old building needed a lot of work. Dad’s vision was to create a restaurant that would capture the charm of this old building and give diners a first-class dining experience. My Dad just wanted a place where people could relax and enjoy themselves.”

After almost two years of reconstruction, the old drug store — it originally opened its doors in 1913 as the first brick structure in town — now had a renewed life and purpose, and opened in 2010 as a restaurant.

Drug Store Grill Building
Brookneal's old drug store opened in 1913 as the first brick structure in town, and re-opened in 2010 as a restaurant.

In 1912, a fire in Brookneal destroyed most of the wooden frame buildings, so the then-new drug store was built of brick to last a very long time. To retain the “ole bones” of the historic building, Ricky and Josh restored the original tin ceiling and greenstone floors mined in Lynchburg. Upstairs, in what used to be a dentist’s office, the father-and-son team built a bar for a more relaxed ambience. The Virginia Downtown Association honored Ricky’s and Josh’s hard work in 2011 with an Award of Excellence.

“Ricky felt that to attract diners, the menu and quality of the food had to be special,” continues Robin. “We wanted to offer traditional high-quality beef and seafood dishes complemented by fresh local vegetables to keep customers coming back for more.”

While the Grill offers a variety of steaks, its featured dish is the Smoked Rib-eye. First, this certified Angus beef is aged for 21 days and then smoked outside over hickory wood for four hours. The steak is then finished on an inside hickory wood grill for the desired tasting temperature, and served with smoked au jus. The Pritts serve other special steaks like the Southwest Sirloin, which is blackened and topped with jack cheese, and the Whiskey Rib-eye, cooked in whiskey with peppers and onions. And for the “just-give-me-meat” appetite, selections include an 8-ounce sirloin, 12-ounce rib-eye, and the 20-ounce “big boy” rib-eye, all served with soup, salad, and one side.

Josh and Robin Pritt
Josh Pritt and his mom, Robin, are owners of the restaurant.

Drug Store Grill is not just a steak place. It offers an extended menu of chicken and seafood dishes. For example, Sugar Hill Chicken, grilled chicken served with barbecue sauce, ham, bacon, and cheddar cheese; Herb and Bacon Crusted Catfish; Tuna New Orleans, grilled and topped with creamy Cajun sauce loaded with crawfish, shrimp, mussels, and chorizo sausage; and Shrimp and Grits. While at the Grill, I noticed another customer who ordered the Shrimp and Grits, and marveled at the creamy cheese grits with bacon and andouille sausage, which looked really yummy! I am already planning my next trip.

With so many choices, it was difficult to make an entrée selection. I would have liked to try everything, but I took the reasonable approach and ordered a single entrée, the Smoked Rib-eye. I was not disappointed. The smoking of the Angus beef really does give this a very special taste. If you like steak and have never tasted a rib-eye that has been smoked, it will be worth a trip to Brookneal to try this dish.

Before the steak, I ordered an appetizer of Cajun Scallops. Robin’s description of the dish sounded like the type of flavor to set my taste buds for the steak. The scallops were pan-seared and cooked with chorizo, onions, peppers, garlic and Parmesan cheese. The real danger of a great “starter” dish is that if it is really tasty, you may be tempted to have them bring you another and just call it a night. I could have done that and been a happy camper but would have missed a great steak.

Food
A scrumptious salad sets the stage fopr the main course.

Usually, I find out about the restaurants I write about from emails from Cooperative Living readers, and I did receive several emails encouraging me to visit the Drug Store Grill. Sometimes recommendations come from unexpected sources. Recently, I was flying out of Richmond and was recognized by a couple traveling on vacation. They highly recommended the Grill’s burgers for lunch and “wings” served in the upstairs bar. They said they also enjoyed special events and entertainment at the Drug Store Grill.

Wherever you are, let me know of your favorite restaurant on the back roads of Virginia. I can be reached at dwalker123@comcast.net. Remember, if you are planning a road trip, call ahead to confirm operational hours and meal specials. Travel and eat well, and be of good cheer!

Drug Store Grill

105 Main Street

Brookneal, VA 24528

Phone: (434) 376-2116

Email: drugstoregrill@yahoo.com

Web: www.drugstoregrill.com

Mon. – Tue.: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Wed. – Thur.: 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Fri. – Sat.: 11:30 a.m. – midnight

Sun.: 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

 

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