Greg Hayes, co-owner (with John Osenbaugh) of Greg’s Grill, doesn’t ask for much from you— try his food, and, excuse his profanity, don’t act like an a**. Those small trade-offs allow you access to fantastically fresh eating, with breakfast, lunch and now dinner options. Seriously, some of the best food can be sampled right here at this West Toledo former A&W drive-in. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it building, but Hayes has all the space he needs to innovate good, hearty meals at extremely fair prices.
In March of 2015, Hayes had a simple reason for branching out: “I’d been a chef for 25 years, I figured it was time to do my own thing.” Though he’s worked all over the world, his local stints include Mancy’s and Grumpy’s. “I worked there before I opened my own place. They’ve been really big supporters of mine,” he says of Grumpy’s owners, Jennifer Shemak and Sarah Bauman.
“Toledo is a meat-and-potatoes town. I worked fine dining for 25 years. I wanted easy, simple, home-cooked, all-fresh, nothing out-of-the-bag, good food,” Hayes explains the concept behind this cozy joint with a classic counter in front of the exposed kitchen, where you can watch your meal come together.
Local is important to him as well— his eggs come from Moser Farms in Wauseon, his produce comes from Sam Okun Produce Co.— but Greg’s Grill’s defining characteristic is the freshness which goes into every aspect of Hayes’ cooking. “I’m the only one doing what I’m doing [in West Toledo], I promise you that much. I come here at four in the morning and cut everything fresh every day. I cut and cook my meats, nothing sits around. I just try to do my damnedest to do what I can to make everybody happy— put some butts in my seats, make some money.”
Hayes’ Cobb salad betrays his Grumpy’s past. This is a massive fill-you-to-the-brim style salad, loaded with proteins, avocado, red onion, tomato and fresh lettuce, served with your choice of dressing (traditionally, a Cobb goes with blue cheese but Hayes isn’t a “say ‘no’ kind of chef”— do what makes you happy).
“I just wanted everything accessible and good. I go to restaurants and I eat, and if someone charges me $9-$10 for a sandwich and I leave hungry… I didn’t want that,” Hayes said. “I am the absolute antithesis of that. I have a sh*t-ton of frickin’ to-go boxes. I want you to walk out of here and have something to take home with you.”
While breakfast is his biggest meal of the day, his lunch menu offers options like his traditional Cuban sandwich, loaded up with ham and pulled pork, pickles, and mustard, or his bbq pork sandwich, which he augments with slices of shaved pork tenderloin, instead of the usual pork shoulder. The result is a tender gourmet sandwich slathered with his homemade bbq sauce, that will leave you stuffed— with maybe a little room left for dessert.
Oh, and try the parmesan truffle fries, there’s a reason that Greg and his staff refer to them as “crack in a basket.” They are worth a visit all by themselves.
“That’s what kind of makes me infamous around here lately,” Hayes says, pointing to his freshly made Fruity Pebble cheesecake. Admittedly, that’s the first thing we heard about this place— the must-try dessert that incorporates cereal into the recipe.
He also has prepared a double chocolate cheesecake for Toledo’s sweet tooths; we tried them both.
It is recommended that you do the same, but if you have to go either/or, opt for a slice of the whimsical Fruity Pebble cheesecake. It’s just one of the many things that should put Greg’s Grill on your dining map.
Hours are 7am-8pm, Tuesday-Friday;
8am-2pm, Saturday-Sunday; closed Mondays.
Greg’s Grill is located at 3243 W. Sylvania Ave.,