There’s a good chance a person could drive by Redd’s Grill in Moss Hill without realizing that some of the best hamburgers in Liberty County are being made inside by the hands of owner Francis McVay of Batson.
Before a person makes it through the glass doors of the restaurant, located on the southwest corner at the intersection of SH 146 and SH 105, they are greeted by the smells of home-style cooking. As they walk inside, they are met by friendly waitstaff and a small, 75-year-old red-haired woman standing faithfully in the kitchen, placing fresh burgers on the grill and dropping hand-battered onion rings, chicken strips and catfish in the fryers.
McVay does most of the cooking in her small restaurant, which seats roughly two dozen people. As her longtime customers enter, McVay greets them by name and inquires about their children, moms and dads like they are members of her own extended family.
She started Redd’s Grill in May 2003 after working for a number of cafés and restaurants in Liberty County.
“I worked for everybody else out here and I figured I’d try it on my own. I worked for everybody else from here to Dayton, from Dayton to Devers, and from Devers to Moss Hill. I made the whole triangle,” McVay said.
When asked what separates her from the competition, McVay said with a laugh, “Hell, I don’t know. My food tastes better.”
Her regular customers seem to agree. Every weekday and Saturday, particularly during the three main meals of the day, the little café is bustling with customers, some dining in and enjoying the quaint atmosphere and conversations with neighbors, and others picking up takeout meals to enjoy at home with their families.
Her staff members say the ample food portions also keep people coming through the doors. For a modest price, you can have a plate loaded with enough food for two meals, or at least enough for a snack later. If you leave hungry, it’s only because you ordered water.
The daily special, served between the hours of 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. while supplies last, is $6.95. The meals include an entree, sides and dessert. Every Friday, the special is fried catfish with cole slaw, beans, fries, hush puppies and cake.
The most popular menu items, according to McVay, are steak and eggs, hamburgers and cheeseburgers, and fried catfish. When asked her favorite thing to eat when she’s away from the restaurant, McVay laughed and said, “I ain’t going to tell you that because you’ll crack up. Vienna sausages are my favorite!”
Running a small, but popular, establishment is challenging at times, particularly when large orders come in when the restaurant is already loaded with customers.
“Some of the school orders when they ordered, like 30-40 hamburgers, to be picked up at 9 o’clock at night, and I still have dine-in people, cooking for them,” she said, explaining some of the challenges. “But so far we’ve made it. We’ve made 76 [hamburgers at] one time.”
Being self-employed can be both a blessing and a curse. When staff members do not show up for work, McVay has to step in to fill their shift.
“It’s a full-time job and don’t think you’re going to always have help, you know? You have to pull the load yourself. I have all the 15 years that I’ve done it. If somebody can’t make it, then I’ve got to make it. Better think hard before you open [your own business],” she said.
In the 15 years she has owned the café, McVay has seen celebrities stop by for lunch, including a number of professional athletes and musicians.
“I did have all their names on the wall, but we painted over them. [Former Houston Rocket] Elvin Hayes got me on TV – Channel 13. I got tongue-tied and couldn’t talk,” she said with a laugh.
Until a year ago, the walls of the café were a who’s who of all the people who had dined in the restaurant. Signatures covered the walls, ceilings and supports on just about every part of the dining area. The signatures are now gone, painted during a recent renovation.
When asked if her family expects the same level of cooking at home as they receive at the restaurant, McVay said, “I cook on Sundays at home and that’s it. That’s the only time I am home.”
If you are interested in having lunch at Redd’s Grill, stop by any day between the hours of 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 5 to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and Saturdays, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Credit cards and cash are accepted.
The daily specials are posted on the café’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/redds.grill. Call-in orders can be made at 936-298-2424.
By Sierra Holstein, email@example.com