Restaurant Road Trip: Leonard’s Grill

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GRAFTON, W.Va. – Leonard’s Grill is just the latest business to carry the name at its Grafton location; it’s named after a grocery store that used to fill that spot. But after sitting empty for a while, owner Derek Watkins saw an opportunity.

“A couple years ago, my wife and I were living in Morgantown. We came back for a light-up night. We saw just kind of the spirit of Grafton come alive. So we found the location here, and we decided that this might be a good opportunity for us, and it was just kind of fun for us to pitch in and ride the wave of enthusiasm that was going through the streets,” Watkins said.

You can see that spirit in the decorations, from old signs to booth seats salvaged from a local bowling alley. Watkins explained that it was important to him to highlight the history of the area. But they’re looking ahead too, and offering many ways for people to order, even during this pandemic.

“We’re just trying to be available and easy to order from as possible, but we still want to make sure that we’re getting the basics, that we’re providing fast, friendly service in a safe environment,” said Watkins.

But just because they want to highlight history doesn’t mean they’re not bringing things up to date. Elements like the order counter were handmade by the staff there, and it also hasn’t kept them from offering unique sauces and items you won’t find on a menu anywhere else.

“We found a lot of use in repurposing a lot of items that were left behind from 50, 60, 70 years ago that just had a really nice, unique, vintage touch to it. We play a lot of classic rock, but we’re doing a lot of new age things, and you’re going to find a lot of things on our menu that you wouldn’t expect an old town place to have,” Watkins said.

Leonard’s Grill is located at 238 West Main Street in downtown Grafton.

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