NZ restaurant finds way to open, expand, even during pandemic

Posted 9/29/20

Despite the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on local businesses, The Office Grill and Saloon in North Zulch opened its doors in June after refurbishing an old location and updating the menu to include breakfast and other new options.

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NZ restaurant finds way to open, expand, even during pandemic

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Despite the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on local businesses, The Office Grill and Saloon in North Zulch opened its doors in June after refurbishing an old location and updating the menu to include breakfast and other new options.

The restaurant is located on Fifth Street in North Zulch at the same spot that housed bar and grill At the Tracks until recently.

“We have a lot of the same favorites that people had when (At the Tracks) was here, but we have added and expanded the menu a lot and added breakfast, as well,” said Karina Hannon, the restaurant’s manager.

Hannon’s brother, Charlie Cook, is friends with the previous owners of At the Tracks and purchased the location after they wanted out of the business.

“When all the COVID stuff started, they shut down, and we opened right at the start of June,” said Hannon. “We spent the whole month of May cleaning, painting and remodeling. We pushed (the bar) out to create more room. It was really dark in here before, people’s signatures were all over the walls, stuff like that.”

Hannon stated the goal is to create an atmosphere that has the feel of a restaurant with a bar, opposed to a bar with a restaurant.

“I have heard a lot of people say it is a lot cleaner and a lot nicer,” said Hannon.

The restaurant also features a new jukebox and Big Buck Hunter video game system. There are two pool tables located outside in the patio area. It includes a fully stocked bar with liquor as well as beer.

It is open for breakfast daily from 6-10 a.m. Lunch and dinner hours last from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. until midnight Friday through Saturday.

The restaurants name, The Office, stems from a joke courtesy of Cook.

“When (Cook) is having a good time and you call him, he will tell everybody that he is at the office,” Hannon amusingly confided. “If you just tell people you are at the office, you cannot get into trouble.”

Hannon admits that the breakfast portion remains on the slow side, mainly because most people are still unaware it is offered by the location. The breakfast menu, and the menu in general, includes old-fashioned, country-style cooking such as biscuits and gravy, pancakes, waffles and breakfast tacos, among other options.

The lunch and dinner menu features many of the same items offered at At the Tracks, but has been expanded to include some healthier options such as vegetables and steamed rice along with grilled chicken, grilled fish, grilled shrimps and wraps. They also offer numerous lunch specials.

The traditional options such as burgers and country fried steaks remain, as well. On the weekend, The Office offers a barbecue special, which, according to Hannon, has been a big hit thus far.

Hannon mentioned Cook’s aspirations to possibly expand the location in the future.

“If business allows, we want to expand and have a restaurant side and a bar side to have a more family atmosphere,” said Hannon.

The Office Grill and Saloon can be found at 11739 Fifth Street in North Zulch, right before the railroad crossing.

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