Amy and Sam Messina took a chance last fall and bought their first restaurant, Grill on the Green, located at the Newaukum Valley Golf Course.
The couple knew it was a risky move — pandemic restrictions were underway and golf was heading into the offseason.
According to Sam, the restaurant was “treading water.”
Then, the universe hit them with yet another obstacle, this time in the form of a driver colliding with and destroying their sign. Tucked away in a residential neighborhood, the new restaurant now has few means to advertise to passersby.
“The COVID, the wintertime … and boom, the sign! The one thing we can lean on,” Sam said last week.
The duo expected their new adventure to be slow-going at first. But it’s something they’ve always wanted to do. It’s a family business, with Amy’s son and his fiance helping cook and serve. And in the next few weeks, as they expand their hours and usher in warmer weather, the family hopes to watch the business “pop off.”
Hours will expand to the evening in early April, and golf tournaments and warmer weather are expected to entice more patrons to come try the Messina’s burgers and wings while enjoying a view of the golf course. On the menu is also the popular “tachos,” like nachos but with tater tots — a dish that’s proven popular with the regulars.
The restaurant itself is already tucked away in a neighborhood, but even more tucked away is the ‘70s-esque lounge behind the kitchen, with funky upholstered chairs and a view of the full bar.
Golfers have told the Messinas that the swanky room hasn’t been used in decades. That’s likely to change this year.
“We want to make it a chill spot where people can drink liquor and beer and maybe get some dice out or card games. Just kind of a hangout,” Amy said. “After the restaurant closes, come back to the bar.”
Back home in Ohio, Sam has experience managing restaurants. And Amy, a W.F. West graduate, has worked in restaurants and hospitality for years. She’s known the golf course’s current owners since high school. Despite the pandemic, buying the restaurant was the perfect opportunity.
The Messinas knew that in the neighborhoods around the golf course, if residents want to go out to eat they have two main options: Ramblin Jacks RibEye, or driving all the way into town. They saw an opportunity to add another, closer option.
“We knew it was going to be rough and spotty,” Sam said. “But April’s supposed to be bringing some new momentum, and I think summer’s going to be really busy.”
Sam and Amy don’t have extensive golf experience, and are hoping to get into the game this spring. But that hasn’t stopped them from having fun with the sport. Amy has concocted several golf-themed drinks, for example, like the “dirty birdie” and the “bloody bogey,” that are mixed up at the bar, which is fully stocked with champagne, liquor and eight beers on tap. The Messinas give kudos to the many “die-hard golfers” they’ve seen on the course rain or shine, and hope to learn everyone’s name, so the grill has an intimate feel.
They’re awaiting their new sign to advertise the restaurant. But until then, the grill can be found at the Newaukum Valley Golf Course in Chehalis. Residents can also book the restaurant for events such baby showers, graduations or other parties.
More Information: Grill on the Green
Location: 153 Newaukum Golf Dr, Chehalis
Phone: (360) 748-6895
Hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (expanding in April)