Fish and grits... for breakfast?
George Gallis admits it wasn't his idea. But the unusual pair proved a brilliant addition to the menu at Nishie G's restaurant.
Customers love it. And now, the dish has helped Nishie G's claim a spot in Southern Living magazine's list of best breakfasts in South Carolina.
Orders for fish and grits have picked up even more, says Gallis, who opened Nishie G's seven years ago on Mount Gallant Road. Gallis added a second location in 2008 on India Hook Road.
"It kind of blows your mind," said Gallis, 38. "Who eats that in the morning?"
The restaurant was among five in South Carolina recognized by Southern Living, along with Jomars in Lancaster, Grits and Groceries in Belton, Dixie Supply Bakery & Cafe in Charleston and Tommy's Country Ham House in Greenville.
Credit for the fish and grits idea goes to regulars at the Gallis family's restaurant on Arrowood Road in south Charlotte. George Gallis remembers getting special orders.
"When I decided to open up my own place, I put it on the menu," said the younger Gallis.
Gallis named Nishie G's after his wife, the former Nishie Scoggins, who works full time as a dental hygienist and helps run the restaurant at night.
The place attracts a mix of blue-collar workers, business people, retirees and families. Lately, a few newcomers have mentioned Southern Living - including a chef passing through town from New York and a couple from Georgia visiting relatives.
"Here we are, little Nishie G's," said Nishie Gallis. "Can you believe it?"
Customers get a choice of fried flounder or perch with their grits. Those not in the mood for fish often prefer the Philly steak biscuit, a spin-off on the Philly cheese steak hoagie.
A pair of regulars helped Nishie G's land a spot in Southern Living. Jayne Scarborough and Jeannie Marion work for local tourism bureaus and wrote the magazine to suggest one of their favorite spots.
The honor feels like validation for years of hard work, says George Gallis.
When he opened his own place, Gallis turned on the lights at 5:30 a.m. and worked until closing time at 9 p.m. "With time, I started letting others get more responsibility," said Gallis. "We have a lot of strong employees."
Gallis plans a third Nishie G's in Fort Mill, promising familiar staples such as hamburgers, chicken tips over rice and gyros. And, of course, fish and grits at breakfast.