[Photo: Bobby Gillespie at Grits & Gravy.]
By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Raeford and Hoke County diners are getting a taste of Grits & Gravy, a homegrown restaurant and food service that’s the product of years of experience and hard work by chef and owner Bobby Gillespie.
What started off as a catering service just a few years ago has expanded to include a Grits & Gravy food truck, and now a drive-through take-out restaurant in Raeford. Grits & Gravy serves up favorites like shrimp and grits, stew beef and rice and homestyle sides like cabbage and mac and cheese.
“I’ve been cooking all my life,” Gillespie said. “My mom (Wanda Gillespie), I would always be in the kitchen with her. Anytime she was cooking, I was there.”
Gillespie was born and raised in Hoke County. He graduated with the Hoke County High School Bucks Class of 1997 and went into the military. After serving, he returned home and worked in Walmart distribution for 19 years.
Gillespie hoped to break into the restaurant industry. He went to culinary school to kickstart his dream and make it a reality. For years he worked as the chef at The Mill at Puppy Creek restaurant on Johnson Mill Road, drawing rave reviews for his cooking.
“I learned a lot down there, Lisa let me do my own thing,” Gillespie said of The Mill’s owner.
Four years ago, he struck out on his own with Grits & Gravy.
“Grits & Gravy started in my kitchen in 2018. We came along, came along. I started catering,” he said.
He launched a food truck in August 2020, getting his food out to more and more people and building a name for Grits & Gravy. The food truck visits Sam’s Club on Riley Road in Fayetteville and the Family Dollar and Dollar Tree in Wagram.
In March 2021 a building at 416 East Central Avenue became available. Gillespie jumped at the chance to have a brick-and-mortar location. Now more than a year later, Grits & Gravy is going strong with a busy takeout business at its drive-through window.
The menu for catering can be just about anything the customer asks for. The food truck and restaurant tend to stick to the Grits & Gravy theme with familiar and much-loved favorites, but Gillespie likes to expand in different directions, too.
“A lot of Southern country food, but that’s not the extent. We do a little bit of everything,” Gillespie said. “We offer fried chicken, pork chops, and we do breakfast.”
How does he manage to keep up with running a catering business, food truck and restaurant?
“I don’t,” he joked. “It’s a work in progress. We’re just trying to cover all bases.”
Gillespie’s restaurant has hosted food giveaways to help feed people in the community. They partnered with another organization that saw over 200 people get a needed meal.
“The idea of this is, we just want to feed people. I have a problem with people being hungry, I would never see anyone being hungry,” he said. The business also helps support the local football team.
To check out Grits & Gravy, visit https://www.gritsandgravyfoodservice.com or call the restaurant at (910) 479-3119. The restaurant is open for takeout orders Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and on Sunday from noon-5 p.m. The business can also work with customers to serve their catering needs for events.
“No event is too small, nothing is too big,” Gillespie said.