Grinders and Gravy

Grinders and Gravy is set to open soon in Southern Pines. Chef Curt Shelvey has revamped the property and is launching a new menu, building on his success with Curt's Cucina.

Curt’s Cucina recently announced they’d be closing up shop for a bit to rejuvenate. If you shed a tear over the absence of the precious meatball grinders, get yourself together because the grinders aren’t going anywhere.

Yes, owner Curt Shelvey is taking a well-deserved break. But, he plans to return soon with a few surprises. Curt’s Cucina will reopen as Grinders and Gravy.

During the restaurant’s hiatus imposed by restrictions around COVID-19, Shelvey began implementing changes to his menu. The response to those changes led him to reevaluate his business model, as reported in May regarding the veritable cult that spawned around his meatball grinders.

“I’m trying to look at what dining is going to be in the future, but I’m also designing this concept around the changing demographic. We have more young families moving to this area,” Shelvey said. “I want to have a venue that is going to do quality, fresh Italian food for everyone.”

Gone are the days of making reservations to eat at Curt’s. An outdoor seating area will include tables, fans and music. Customers can continue to call in to-go orders and pick up their food through a window, or order at said window and eat outside.

Curt’s plans to reopen the Cucina for the al fresco dining situation this month. Construction on the inside of the restaurant will be taking place simultaneously.

The menu, too, is getting a revamp, and will feature 25 different grinders — including a few vegetarian options. They’re also adding more of what Shelvey calls “Italian street food” to the menu. This includes a glorious invention called pasta cones, sautéed spaghetti inside of a cone made of Italian herb flatbread.

If you’ve followed Shelvey’s evolution, the menu changes make sense. Despite their extreme popularity, the meatball grinders were never a regular item on the menu, but served as a culinary adaptation to COVID-19.

“A lot of my food concepts are going to be done in a different way,” Shelvey said.

Meanwhile, classic dishes will make appearances as nightly specials.

“One night we could have linguini and shrimp night. Or, lasagna and garlic bread night. We’re going to take down the portions a bit, and take down the prices to the $15-$16 range.” Curt says. “It’ll be a definite value for what you get.”

A food truck is also in the works. The food truck will be centered around the new “fresh, Italian street fare” identity, and will hopefully be on the road in the fall.

With the new business model comes new branding. Graphic artists are currently working on a new logo, new signs and new menus for the restaurant.

“Everything is in place right now. Construction is underway, logos are in the works and the menu is close to being finalized,” Shelvey said. “We’re just hoping to bring things together in the next two weeks.”

Shelvey hopes to reopen around July 6. In the meantime, he’s giving himself, his wife and his daughters some rest.

“I’m built for the restaurant business. My family is not,” Curt says.

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