CLEAN AND TASTY: Grillers, the awesome American diner to eat at

BY GRAEME LUND - JULY 30, 2014
Having been a long-time patron of popular local American-concept diner, Grillers, I found its recent labelling in a local newspaper as among the Nelson Mandela Bay’s most unhygienic restaurants to be out of character to the Grillers with which I was familiar. To find out the truth, myself and a group of office colleagues decided to take a lunch break at this now-tarnished eatery.

Having been a long-time patron of popular local American-concept diner, Grillers, I found its recent labelling in a local newspaper as among the Nelson Mandela Bay’s most unhygienic restaurants to be out of character to the Grillers with which I was familiar. To find out the truth, myself and a group of office colleagues decided to take a lunch break at this now-tarnished eatery.

Before departing the office, I made a ‘health and cleanliness checklist’ of my own that I would use to inspect the premises. I also made a mental note to ask to see the municipal health inspection report alluded too by the newspaper, if possible.

On arrival at Grillers, we were warmly greeted and shown to a large table in the middle of the diner before being issued with our menus. From this vantage point, I surreptitiously began my checks.

To begin with, the dining area was clean with neat floors, seats, tables among other contact surfaces as well as good ventilation and adequate lighting; the salt and pepper cellars were polished and full; the serviette dispenser was neat and well-packed and when I ‘mistakenly’ dropped my car keys, I found not one piece of chewing gum under the table. 

We placed our orders - a selection of milkshakes and burgers that included a double beef, pepper sauce, New York and a cheese burger, with our friendly waitress who also wore a neat and clean outfit.

While our food was being prepared, we took time to enjoy the restaurant’s attractive layout, décor and collection of 1950’s American memorabilia.

When our drinks order arrived, I checked each glass in which our milkshakes were served. Grillers had gone to great lengths to polish them, just like the cutlery.

I have previously eaten in some very swanky restaurants which have not made the effort to ensure that their cutlery and crockery sparkled. That effort from Grillers spoke volumes about their desire to maintain a high level of hygiene in their restaurant.

Just before the burgers arrived, we were given a platter of condiments.  Each bottle was full and there was no congealed residue at the spout - again it showed me that Grillers pays attention to detail.

For their price, the burgers we were served were huge, delicious and accompanied by a large portion of chips.

Our waitress had also been very efficient - even better at her job than waitresses at some top class restaurants at which I have dined. Clearly the management at Grillers takes pride in their restaurant.

Once the meal was over, I asked to speak to the manager on duty. Alan Castelein, one of the owners, kindly offered to show me the health inspection report that had caused the recent controversy.

The report was dated 30 August 2012 and all the checklist boxes for cleanliness and health had been ticked by the inspector except for two. The one requested that a new hand basin be placed closer to a workstation and the other requested that the staff toilet door be made self-closing.

Alan took me into the kitchen to show me the new basin and the door that was now self-closing – both recommendations had been met well before the critical report in a local Saturday paper was published.

Having seen the health inspection report and having noted the cleanliness of the restaurant, I was astounded that Grillers received such bad publicity. My work colleagues and I enjoyed our lunch in one of the neatest and well-managed restaurants in the Bay and we will return again.

You can too enjoy a unique American diner experience locally at Grillers at 330 Cape Road, Newton Park in Port Elizabeth or call: 041 365 1688.