Friday, July 25, 2014

Geralds fulfills dream in Wyndhurst

Food and fun — After working in the food industry for 15 years, Michelle Hamrick opened her own restaurant, offering the Wyndhurst community a warm atmosphere to dine in. Photo credit: Jody Johnston

Food and fellowship are often synonymous with Sunday afternoon lunches and Thanksgiving dinners, and Gerald’s owner and executive chef Michelle Hamrick has an exceptional understanding of this relationship.

Geralds is located at 112 Tradewynd Drive in Lynchburg’s Wyndhurst community. The store recently entered its second year of business April 13, a milestone that Hamrick said she reached with the help of her family.

“Gerald is my father. I named it after my dad, and I have a lot of family here,” she said. “I’ve got two sisters here that cook with me, and a brother, and my daughter works here. Even though it’s my restaurant, I’ve got a lot of family support and I employed a lot of them…and after two years they’re still with me, so it’s even better.”

Prior to opening Geralds, her first restaurant, Hamrick said she spent more than 15 years in the food industry, working for Olive Garden, Holiday Inn, and managing a Applebee’s for 10 years. Opening Geralds was always a dream of hers, she said.

“I started to look at different places. I didn’t think that (the current building) was a good option for me, meaning that I didn’t think I could handle it. I thought that it was too big, too quick, that kind of thing,” Hamrick said. “But (the owners of the building) approached me about it. They knew of me, and knew what I was trying to do. We talked, we negotiated and just made it happen. It’s been quite a blessing.”

Geralds features a spacious dining area, furnished with wooden tables and chairs, topped with dark brown table cloths. Flat-screen televisions and contemporary music provide a relaxed dining atmosphere and outdoor seating and Wi-Fi are available.

In addition to an inviting facility, Geralds offers a wide variety of menu choices.

“We have a very diverse menu,” Hamrick said. “Someone could come in here and order an entrée for $8, or they could order an entrée for $30. (We have) all different types of food in different sizes, too.”

Photo credit: Jody Johnston

According to Hamrick, dishes come in both small and large sizes. The restaurant’s online menu features an extensive list of dishes ranging from Grilled Eggplant Caprese and Shrimp and Grits (a best seller, according to Hamrick) to the Steakhouse Mushroom Burger and The Italian Job— an Italian sausage covered in peppers and mozzarella cheese.

“We have a very gourmet (part of) the menu and then we have a very casual end too,” Hamrick said. “We sort of label it ‘gourmet comfort food.’ A lot of it is just your traditional items with a special twist
on it.”

“Another big pull here is we do a soup and salad bar at lunchtime and that is huge,” she said. “Probably half of our business is our lunch business.”

Hamrick said the salad bar is chef-inspired and changes daily, featuring chicken and egg salads, pasta, homemade soups and desserts. The salad bar is available weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., she said.

In addition, Hamrick said that the restaurant also features additional non-menu items on a “feature board” that change daily.

A menu featuring a wide array of items, combined with an inviting atmosphere, makes Geralds a dining option that appeals to anyone.

“I would love to get more college kids out here,” Hamrick said. “Especially if you’re a foodie, or if you like just hanging out in a positive environment. It’s really nice.”

A full dinner menu, contact information, hours of operation and more can be found at dineatgeralds.com. Geralds can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/eatatgeralds.

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