Larchmont's Destination Eatery -- The Grange
By Lilian Peña
Three good friends of almost 20 years – Lisa Samson, Lisa Moskow and Lisa Chase – are celebrating the first anniversary of the opening of their smart and quite delicious eatery in the heart of Larchmont – The Grange. All three women originally met while their 1-year-olds were in a Mommy and Me class almost 17 years ago.
The three Lisa’s sat down with Westchester Women on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to talk about how their vision came to life along with the ups and downs during this past year.
Lisa Chase, a former magazine journalist and editor explained her initial idea for the restaurant. “It was born out of need. I was out running errands and became frustrated because I wanted a quick sandwich to go.” Certain restaurants were closed and there didn’t seem to be anything around that would fit the bill. So, Lisa C. called Lisa Moskow, a fine-dining catering chef who’s talents were cultivated at The Food Network and Martha Stewart and said she should open a sandwich shop. “Lisa M.’s reply was that ‘we’ should open that shop.” They looked around in a couple of spots and finally found the empty space that was formerly Wasabi.
Lisa M. shared, “After we settled the space with the landlord, Lisa Samson with her expertise in architecture, design and branding stepped in and began the look and style of the restaurant, logo and marketing. Our original idea was of a more Bohemian- style space but Lisa S. created the perfect modern, clean and elegant look that is perfect.”
We were interested to find out how the name for the restaurant came about. Lisa C. explained that they tried out many different names. None of which seemed to stick. “I’ve always been interested in the community aspect of a restaurant. We have lived in Larchmont for 20 years and raised our families here. We’ve volunteered and know a great many people. The concept of an old-fashioned grange on an English farm came to mind – a place where the people came together for the well-being of the community. We loved the name and especially the way Lisa S. designed the logo and brand…then COVID hit.”
Even though the lockdown forced everyone to stay home, people were so happy when The Grange opened on September 15, 2020. They were amazed that anyone would open a business during the pandemic. The women received Christmas cards thanking them for being there for the community. Many people who moved out of the City found comfort when saw a place that looked familiar.
Over the past year, the three women have faced several challenges to say the least. They agreed that for them, they’ve all experienced relevant challenges because none of them ever started a restaurant before and especially during a pandemic. There certainly was a real learning curve but each Lisa agreed that it’s been super exciting.
Their advice for anyone thinking of opening their own business? Don’t tell too many people. They shared that some will give you all the reasons why you shouldn’t do it. They wanted to experience the entire process without being influenced by the doubts of others. Having dealt with construction issues, COVID and supply chain issues, they may have never gone through it had they known those things beforehand.
Lisa M. said, “We are very thankful for our very strong family support. Through the long hours, the ups and down of opening a brand-new business, it’s so important to have your family, a pet or something there to pick you up.”
“We have learned to be flexible. We’ve pivoted a number of times on the initial concept of the restaurant, the scale and size of the menu. During COVID, we had to scale back the menu. Thankfully, we were able to survive the winter by building an outdoor space utilizing igloos.” And now almost a year later, they have come out on top.
When asked about a signature dish, they all looked at each other and smiled. Lisa M. said, “That is a multifold answer. We recently received an honor for our Torched French Toast. However, when we first opened it was our Cuban-ish sandwich and it’s still very popular today.” She went on the say that their customers are fiercely loyal and definitely have their favorites. “It’s so interesting to see our customers claim different things on the menu and then go out and promote them to their friends.” The Avocado Toast is a best-seller, especially on the weekends.
New items coming out in the fall will include their Brisket Sandwich dubbed the Chanukah-ish, an absolutely delectable brisket sandwich with potato sticks, red cabbage and horseradish gremolata. It was originally a one-day special but the demand quickly grew. They will also have a number of inventive soups that are available by the quart.
Regular customers are often called when their favorite soups are on hand for the day or they will receive a text message letting them know that corn muffins or the Korean Chicken Sandwich is on the menu. Community means everything to them, and it shows.
One of the most important community-related projects the Lisa’s created is the Victory Farms Program. Lisa C. explains, “We were originally going to open in March of 2020. There was a period of time when we were figuring out whether we even could open. We had empty refrigerators in the shop. After volunteering at the Food Pantry, I saw the need for fresh produce. I was going to plant garden beds in my backyard and knew neighbors that were going to do the same.” So she let her friends and neighbors know that if they wanted to join in, they could donate their produce to the Food Pantry.
There were 40 families last year, and they would bring their produce to the shop. Lisa would drive the bounty over to the Food Pantry.
This year, they are up to 148 families. Everyone from Sheldrake to all the elementary schools are donating produce. The teens for example, went to Sheldrake to help rebuild their raised vegetable beds. They weed and water the gardens. Every Tuesday they take coolers to the Larchmont Mamaroneck Hunger Task Force that distribute the fresh produce and food to the community in need. They asked the mayor if they could put a small fridge on the sidewalk. She said yes and it’s a great way for people to both drop off their garden produce and also other’s can take what they might need. The fridge will be out until the season is over.
The rewards since opening . . . a very easy answer . . . community. They are grateful for the loyal customers who have considered them a lifeline to the outside world during the shutdown and enjoy meeting the new families in Larchmont that they would otherwise never meet. The connection between great food and the smiles on people’s faces says it all.
Will the outdoor igloos come back as the weather turns colder? It’s possible. They have some great things planned for the fall and winter season but love the element of surprise. Yes, their wonderful hot chocolate will return and their hearty granola mixes will warm your soul on a cold morning.
I asked them if there is anything else you want our readers to know, “We’re awesome!” Yes, they are. Strong, fearless and full of great ideas for the future. They are also grateful for their extraordinary crew and believe they are very lucky…this is a happy place.