Grays Restaurant & Bar at the Hilton Vancouver Washington returned to seven days of lunch service starting Monday. Breakfast runs from 6:30 to 11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by dinner from 5 to 9:30 p.m. at this popular gathering spot facing Esther Short Park.
The lunch menu includes a variety of starters, salads, burgers and sandwiches, main courses ranging from grilled king salmon to margherita pizza, and desserts such as creme brulee and molten fudge cake. Beer, wine, and a short list of cocktails are available, although the full bar isn’t open until dinner service.
“We’ve been wanting to open for lunch since things opened this summer, but finding staff made that impossible,” General Manager Nicholas McMasters said. Grays posted job openings months ago, but only recently recruited sufficient back of the house (i.e. kitchen) and front of the house (servers and hosts) staff to serve lunch all week.
Grays has been open for breakfast and lunch from Thursday through Saturday since August. During that time, occupancy rates at the hotel have remained at around 50 to 75 percent, with a growing number of business and leisure travelers along with airline employees. Social media comments indicate that travelers feel safer coming to Vancouver than Portland. They also view downtown Vancouver and the Waterfront Vancouver as a good place to visit.
In addition to hotel visitors, McMasters has noticed a steady and growing base of locals coming to Grays: something he didn’t see during his 6½ years working at the Hilton in downtown Portland.
“There’s a strong local business and repeat customer business here,” he said. “During my 6½ years in Portland it was more of a business or travel location. Portland became a well-known foodie town and it was hard for a hotel restaurant to compete.”
In addition to lunch service, Grays plans to add customer favorites like challah French toast and their Northwest skillet with potatoes, peppers, cheese and gravy back to the breakfast menu.
If the weather permits, the outdoor patio will reopen after Mother’s Day. The return of happy hour hasn’t been determined, but Grays hopes to start it again in the summer.