The Grill: A blast to the past

Features, Opinion

By Anna Hicks

The Classic City is not only known for its openness to new musicians, trends and great food, but also its timeless traditions. The Grill, a 50’s diner themed restaurant, is a place where it all comes together.

Located in the heart of downtown Athens, The Grill is one of the most nostalgic and recognizable restaurants near UGA’s campus. It’s one of the few places in Athens that is open 24/7, making it the perfect place for students and locals alike to snag a midnight snack. Opened in 1981 by Bob Russo, it is the second oldest restaurant in the city and is a place of wistful nostalgia for many alumni.

“I have many special memories at The Grill, from going with my parents before a football game as a child, to taking my own children there when we come to visit Athens,” Jennifer Wolford, a UGA alumni says. “It’s become a three generational tradition for us.”

Russo, a native New Yorker, moved to Athens to open a steakhouse, but soon began to open other international restaurants as well, including Gyro Wrap and Chow Goldstein. Russo’s introduction of international cuisine helped expand the food scene in Athens for years to come.

Although traditions and memories can make a place feel special, delicious food is often what brings people together and The Grill does not disappoint. As a diner-themed restaurant, a good burger with fries and a milkshake is often what people go there for. They offer a wide selection of burgers from bacon cheeseburgers to veggie burgers to burgers with onions and mushrooms, in addition to their hand cut fries with feta dressing. The feta cheese dressing is a one-of-a-kind homemade recipe you can’t find anywhere else in Athens.

“The feta dressing was really good, the chunks of feta made it amazing,” says rising senior Jayla Brown, after trying it for the first time. “It isn’t like sauces you find anywhere else, it’s different. I would definitely choose that over ketchup or honey mustard with my fries.”

Another trademark recipe of The Grill is their classic, malt milkshake. The shakes come in three flavors: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, and each one is made with fresh milk and a scoop of their powered malt. These creamy milkshakes make for the perfect late night snack to get with friends.

As a vintage, 50s diner themed restaurant, many would not think of The Grill as a place to find healthier and dietary friendly meals, but like much of Athens, The Grill has adapted to many of its customers needs and now offers vegan and vegetarian options, such as salads and veggie burgers.

“It was a surprise for me to learn they offered vegetarian and vegan options,” rising senior Scarlett Reicher says. “It can be hard for people with dietary restrictions to find places to eat and The Grill wouldn’t have been the first place I’d have thought to look.”

The Grill is an Athens staple filled with great food and memories for low prices. Although the older building could be cleaner and use updating, the authentic feel is what many customers like. Located right across from The Arch, it’s central location is ideal for UGA students and visitors. It’s definitely an experience worth trying on the next visit to Athens.

“When I think of Athens and The Arch, The Grill immediately comes to mind,” Wolford says. It’s one of the few places in downtown that has stayed and has really become a staple of the community. I couldn’t imagine Athens without it.”

Botanical Gardens Gives Fresh Produce to Athens Community

Features, News

By Charlotte Luke

This summer, the Dig and Grow area of the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia bursts with delicious colors and smells: purple, red, and yellow stalks of chard, fragrant leaves of basil, tiny tomatoes budding from their vines, kale curling out of the soil.

More than 1,000 edible plants grown from seed by the Garden’s greenhouse manager, Melanie Parker, were planted in January 2018. Today, Dig and Grow is a thriving source of fresh vegetables and herbs and an important opportunity for “children [to] learn at an early age that vegetables don’t come from the grocery store originally,” said Ann Frierson, an advisory board member of the Botanical Garden for three decades.

But in addition to providing an “edible gardening experiential learning gallery,” said Cora Keber, Director of Education at the Botanical Garden, Dig and Grow provides fresh produce for people in the Athens community.

After the grand opening of the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden in March, the Botanical Garden partnered with Campus Kitchen, a student-run hunger relief program of the UGA Office of Service-Learning. Specifically, much of the produce grown in the Dig and Grow area of the Children’s Garden supports Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, a program through Campus Kitchen in which participants receive pre-made meals and a bag of fresh produce each week.

“We have donated hundreds of pounds of produce since opening in March and will continue to provide to our community whether it be through tasting in the garden, our programs or meals and produce provided by Campus Kitchen,” said Ms. Keber.

Dig and Grow and the Botanical Garden cultivate food and educational experiences, but Ann Frierson said she also envisions the Garden as a nice escape for visitors.

“The beauty of this garden is that it exposes people to nature which is becoming something harder and harder to experience as we become a concrete jungle, and to be able to get out within nature is critical to everyone’s state of mind.”

The grounds of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia are open Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission and parking are free.

Seoul to Athens


By Elyssa Abbott

Originating from Seoul, South Korea, Solyee Kim has taken her education all across the world, from Germany to Georgia.

After receiving her undergraduate degree in public relations at Chung-Ang University in Seoul, South Korea, Kim landed in Athens in 2014 for graduate school. Her husband taught English in Seoul, and eventually wanted to move back to his roots in Athens. Coincidentally, Kim discovered the University Georgia’s renowned public relations program.

“I thought Georgia was extremely bucolic and green. For me, Athens and Atlanta seemed small to me, which was a new experience,” Solyee Kim said.

Coming from the busy, high-rise lifestyle of Seoul, Kim recalls her very first time seeing the full blue sky without a skyscraper in sight in Georgia. She recognizes the difference between the prominence of public transportation in Athens compared to Seoul, and misses not having to drive everywhere. Kim highlights the difficulties of adjusting to a city that shuts down around 8 p.m. from somewhere that is busy 24/7.

Adjusting to a new environment is one of the many challenges international students face. “Each student’s journey is different, however, international students in general will experience culture shock at some point during their first months on campus,” said Justin Jeffery, director of International Student Life at the University of Georgia. “These students are adjusting to a new cultural setting, a new academic environment, new foods, sometimes a different climate, and doing so while learning and interacting in a language that is most likely not their first language – all while being hundreds of miles away from family and friends. However, international students are incredibly resilient and do a fantastic job adjusting to and thriving at UGA.”

Although she misses Seoul and the friends and family that are far from her, Kim adores the rewarding nature found in Georgia. Luckily, Kim finds herself back in South Korea at least twice a year.

Solyee Kim has taken her interests around the globe, from studying German in Germany for a year and a half to researching global development with the United Nations in New York City for several months. New York was where she began tiring of the big city life.

“When I started in the Southern culture, I did not expect myself to be friendly to people that I did not know,” said Kim. “I never talked to strangers ever, but here everyone says hello to each other even though we do not know each other. I really appreciate the hospitality and I learned a lot from it.”

Culture shock was something that Kim experienced immensely. Adjusting to a different medical and healthcare system challenged Kim because she had to relearn an aspect she already knew in a different language with major differences. Studying somewhere outside of the country comes with a new set of issues. Tuition is more expensive, as well as acceptance rates are lower for international students. Students attending graduate school, like Kim, have to take more tests, including the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Kim found the Trump election especially hard due to the offensive things being openly said about immigrants. Despite the challenges associated with seeking higher education outside of the country, Kim encourages it if a student can afford it and found a program that appeals to their interests.

“I think I am getting used to it. I used to complain a lot,” said Kim. “When I went to New York for a few months, I started getting sick of living in a big city. That was when I realized I was really a Georgian.”