The Hail Mary Sports Pub in Grayson serves up great food, fun & friendship
By John L. Byrwa
Grayson – Everybody at The Hail Mary Sports Pub might not know your name, but they’re always glad you came.
“We consider everybody in here a friend,” said Blake Hawkins, one of the co-owners of The Hail Mary, the oldest sports pub in Grayson.
“Most of the time when you walk in here, you get a hug. We have a tremendous and loyal regular base, and it’s just so much fun to enjoy people and to meet new people.
“I take a lot of pride in the fact that we always welcome you when you come in and make sure that you do feel welcome and feel like a part of our family.”
Opened in 2008, The Hail Mary was born when four buddies looked at what they loved to do best and figured why not try and make a living out of it? So Hawkins, a former maintenance manager with the Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation Department, Mark Gillespie, Jerry Stafford and Steven Baldasare pooled their resources and jumped into the restaurant business. (Last year, Tim Sexton purchased a majority share of the business, but the others remain as co-owners.)
Knowing that Grayson at the time did not have a neighborhood sports bar, the four figured they had a good idea on their hands. The past eight-plus years prove that they did.
With a loyal regular customer base and a growing number of newcomers, The Hail Mary consistently packs in the patrons, especially during football season.
“Our story is we were four guys who like to hang around together, watch sports, eat, drink and have a party,” Hawkins said. “And so we took that concept and brought it here. None of us had any professional restaurant experience, ever.
“It was a rough opening, but we got through it and now in October will be our ninth year. We’ve just been very fortunate to have had a good run at it.”
Featuring 18 high-definition TVs and a 15-foot-by-15-foot jumbo screen, The Hail Mary is a sports lover’s dream bar. Customers can watch all NFL and NCAA games, NASCAR, MLB and whatever else they might desire.
And there are weekly specials and events to tickle everyone’s fancy:
On Mondays kids eat free; every Tuesday is karaoke night; the first Tuesday of every month is bike night with live music; Wednesday is wings day; Thursday is trivia night; and there is live music every Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons.
The menu is unlike what one would find at most sports bars. For starters, the menu changes four times a year, with food changed to match each season. And many of the dishes are 100-percent homemade and feature tasty family recipes made from mostly locally produced products, including Hawkins’ mother’s pimento cheese, chili, the popular Downtown Hot Brown, which is savory pot roast served open-faced on Texas toast with mash potatoes, and the new shrimp burger.
“We try to stay relevant with trends with our customers, and we place a big emphasis on local,” Hawkins said. “For example, all of our beef is farmed here in Georgia, all of the chicken, of course, comes from Gainesville, and with our craft beers we try to stay as local and trendy as we can.
“We respond to what our customers want.”
And if it’s a hug you want or need, the friendly staff at The Hail Mary is more than happy to share one.