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Cooking for the soul with love, Blinky’s

Cooking for the soul with love, Blinky’s
By Beth Volpert Johansen

Walking into Blinky’s, the first thing you notice are the smiles.

Despite the presence of a large multicolored bird on several walls, customers cannot help but be drawn in by the bright, genuine smiles of Bobby and Calise Vandergrift, owners of the restaurant, and their respectfully delightful family. 

Keeping customers “happy, fed, and full” are high on the list for the entire family, but following their faith by listening to the answers to their prayers comes first. Bobby creates some delish dishes worthy of finger licking but stops to give thanks for direction from above. “I had looked at this place four or five years ago,” says Bobby. “We prayed about it, but it wasn’t available at the time for a restaurant.” Bobby returned to his job with Comcast and waited for direction. When he and Calise had saved enough money to open the restaurant debt-free, the location became available. The couple gave thanks and began to move ahead alongside a character they named Blinky. “We wanted something the kids would like,” says Bobby. “If you get the kids in, the parents will follow.” 

One bite is enough for parents and kids from all around to follow their feet right back to Blinky’s on a weekly basis. With an early social media following, the restaurant has racked up rave reviews for the fried fish, wings, and juicy burgers all served up fresh. They even shop at the weekly Snellville Farmers’ Market for the freshest seasonal ingredients. The large Blinky cartoon on the wall gets excited about almost everything except pork. “I am extremely allergic to pork,” says Calise. “It was one of the reasons we began cooking so much at home-to keep my allergies under control.” 

Pork products are certainly not missed in the kitchen when Bobby is whipping up his signature “no recipe” mashed potatoes. “I learned to cook from my grandmother in Alabama,” says Bobby. “I learned by watching, not by recipe.” Everything tastes so good that when he is asked about his “secret ingredient”, his one-word reply is more than sufficient: “Love, my grandma taught me how to put love in my cooking.” 

That love shows up in the faces of Bobby and Calise’s four children. They all have a job to do, from wiping tables, helping cook, greeting customers, and anything that needs doing in a rush. 

Bobby and Calise look forward to providing more meals for their customers in and around Snellville. Their high school daughter, Tamia, will continue to greet customers with her beautiful smile and gracious nature and the family will enjoy the fruits of their labor while giving thanks for a supportive neighborhood from their home in Grayson to their business in Snellville and beyond. “I am so grateful and blessed by my parents who work so hard for us,” says Tamia. “I have a big personality and people (customers) add to it and brighten my day when I get a chance to brighten theirs.” It is that sort of genuine love of neighbor that makes Blinky’s a place of comfort. “I learned to cook with soul,” says Bobby. “It makes all the difference in our food.” 

Check out Blinky’s on Facebook and at Located at 2115 Main St East, Snellville, (678) 691-0533