Anita and Jason Shaw, who found a home in the rural hamlet of Sharon after stints in South Florida and in Michigan, recently became proprietors of the Sharon Grill — one of the Western York County community’s most well-known and longest-running establishments.
Anita and Jason Shaw had moved back and forth from Florida’s Gold Coast to Michigan before they came to visit Sharon. In the rural hamlet, they knew they’d found a home.
After putting down roots, the couple and their two children recently became proprietors of the Sharon Grill, one of the Western York County community’s most well-known and longest-running establishments.
Anita Shaw — who has a long history in the restaraunt business in capacities that range from counter girl to managing a five-star restaurant — had always wanted to open her own place.
She and Jason, who have two children — Lexy, 14, and Zach, 12 — are busy with plans to make some renovations to the building and tweak the menu. One thing they won’t change: The small, hometown feel.
“My goal is to make it homey,” said Anita Shaw, who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and later moved to West Palm Beach, Fla., where she met her husband. “I want people to feel like they have come to my home for dinner or lunch, and that they’re part of a family.”
The Sharon Grill has long been known for its country-style home cooking, and the Shaws said they plan to continue that. Anita, who enjoys comfort food, plans to serve more home cooking versus prepared foods.
“That’s my favorite food,” she said. “I love to make comfort food, because it makes you feel good.”
They also plan to expand lighter, healthy menu offerings — such as salads, healthy sandwiches and dinner plates — in response to diners who have expressed a desire for more of that fare. And, she said, they plan to offer some dinner specials.
Jason Shaw, who grew up in Michigan, said the small-town feel is something they love about Sharon. “This place in particular is a community hub,” he said of the Sharon Grill. “Everybody knows everybody. It’s a good, healthy environment to raise kids. We love it.”
Anita said she’d always been a city girl. “But I never really liked New York, and I didn’t like Florida. And I didn’t like the Michigan winters. So when we came here, it was perfect,” she said. “We’re out in the country, the weather is just beautiful and the people are so nice.”
The eatery — which has been a popular spot for hunters to grab breakfast or lunch, and for families to gather on weekends — has a long history in Sharon. It was opened during the 1970s by Brenda and Dennis Settlemyre. Several years ago, it was bought by Jay and Brenda Gourley.
“We dined here, and we really liked the place,” Jason Shaw said. “We had inquired about (buying) it when we first came here three years ago, but it wasn’t for sale then.” They recently asked about buying it again, he said, and the Gourleys were ready to sell.
Anita Shaw said she was fortunate in that 14 existing kitchen and wait staff employees stayed with the restaurant, and they have offered valuable assistance during the ownership transition. “I feel I was blessed with the staff that came with the restaurant,” she said.
Crissy Jacobs, who works at the gas station next door, said the Sharon Grill has always been popular for its hometown hospitality. “Everyone comes to have Sunday dinner and lunch,” she said. “Everyone knows each other.”
Chris McCall and Chase McLean of Clover, who were dining there on a recent afternoon, said they come there often during hunting season. The cheeseburgers are a favorite, McLean said.
Anita Shaw said she would like to capitalize on the hometown connection by decorating with family pictures or items connected to local history. “That’s kind of where we want to bring it back to,” she said. “It could be like the local hangout for everybody.”
She said she has already consulted with Jerry West, director of the Museum of Western York County in Sharon, about displaying some of the museum’s artifacts at the grill on a rotating basis.
“We want to try to make sure that every person that comes through the door really enjoys their experience here,” Anita said. “We’re not out to make millions of dollars; we’re just out to make our community happy with having a place they can be happy to come.”