Sep 15, 2009

Dining at the Depot

by Emily Defosse

Even with the many dining options available on campus, eating at the same places over and over again can become boring. Eating off campus may cost a few more dollars, but for those special occasions or times when you just need a break from campus food, the Depot Grille is not only stocked with great food, but it is also a place where you can step back in time.

The Depot Grille is located at 10 Ninth St. overlooking the James River. Manager Brandy Gibbs has worked at the Depot Grille since it opened in 2004.

“The actual building was built in 1914 and was used as a freight depot,” Gibbs said.

A portion of the building was destroyed by fire in the 1970s, according to Gibbs.

The idea for the Depot Grille came when the owner, David Pole, was approached with the idea of turning the abandoned building into a restaurant.

“He (Pole) jumped all over it because he actually has another Depot Grille in Staunton that has been open for over 20 years now,” Gibbs said.

The 95-year-old building is not the only historical part of the Depot Grille’s atmosphere. All the booths inside the building are restored church pews from a church in Pennsylvania, according to Gibbs.

There is a countertop and mirror, which date back to the Civil War. True or not, some legends have developed about the past of these particular furnishings.

“There is a story behind how it (the counter) was in a pharmacy … on the other side of the wall was a bank. Jesse James supposedly robbed the bank and shot through the wall and it came through and busted through the original mirror,” Gibbs said. “That is just a tall tale, but the (counter) is actually that old.”

One of the most unique aspects of the Depot Grille is its kitchen, which is housed inside two freight cars from the 1970s.

“They were used for full operation until our owner purchased them to use here,” Gibbs said. “They are 50 feet long and 10 feet wide.”

The space of the kitchen is roughly the size of two East Campus bedrooms (including closet and bathroom) put together.

“It is a small space and you have to get creative when you have a lot of cooks in there trying to get 10 different projects done at once,” Gibbs said.

While dining at the Depot Grill, customers may also have the opportunity to watch trains go by on the tracks directly in front of the restaurant.

“Some of them go by slow, and when the train goes by the engineer and people wave,” Gibbs said. “We’ve actually had trains stop and get food while they are at the train stop. They rarely do that, but they’ve done it a few times.”

Customers may see up to three trains pass by during their meal, Gibbs said.

Of course, there is more to the Depot Grille than just history and trains. It also serves delicious food.

Monday night is all-you-can-eat rib night for $15.95. For those on a tighter budget, it offers chicken tenders, burgers and an extensive kids menu. More information on menu selection and prices can be found at

Contact Emily DeFosse at

Printable Version

» Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center aims for change
» Liberty alumni lead mission trip
» Yale grad to visit for ‘Alumni Lecture Series’
» Plein Air Painters: Nothing “Plein” about it
» Bird song vs. the Big Bang: Creation and Engineering Guest Lecturer
» Scaremare returns to thrill audiences
» Daniel Chapman, the gold-sequin hat guy