Pursel and wife

Art and Kiristy Pursel at the Drug Store Grill.

After 11 years in business at 105 Main Street in Brookneal, the Drug Store Grill will have a new owner at the end of the month.

Current owner Josh Pritt said the restaurant celebrated its 11-year anniversary this February, and that he has enjoyed working at the restaurant with family since 2010.

“It’s definitely bittersweet, but I’m also very proud of what we built,” Pritt said.

Art Pursel, Current Owner of The Lunch Box in Rustburg, is the buyer who will shortly take over the Drug Store Grill.

Both Josh Pritt and Robin Pritt, his mother who also ran the restaurant along with Pritt and his wife, believe in Pursel as the restaurant’s new owner.

“I feel confident that he’s going to keep doing great things with it,” Robin Pritt said.

Pursel said he has been aware of the Drug Store Grill for several years and first ate there when it was recommended to him shortly after he and his wife, Kiristy, moved to Gladys together.

“From there it pretty much became a bi-weekly or monthly dinner date out,” Pursel said.

But Pursel was just one of many regular customers.

Several years before the grill opened in 2010, Pritt’s father, Ricky, had purchased the formerly empty building. Ricky Pritt, a man who would run an auctioneering business, several convenience stores and an antique store and raise cattle during his life, was no stranger to starting a business.

The Pritts would win an award for their work in restoring the building to its original, historic condition, and the restaurant would quickly grow into a thriving business.

“Just to have something that we built, that’s part of the community and appears like it’s going to be part of the community for a long time to come, I’m definitely proud of that,” Pritt said.

Pritt works with Georgia Pacific in Gladys, and his wife, Jill, is a teacher at William Campbell High School. Pritt said no longer having to work at the restaurant will allow the pair to have some free time, and to spend more time with their children.

Robin Pritt said she will retire once Pursel takes over the restaurant, and that she will be able to spend more time with her grandchildren, and will also have the chance to travel and work on a few projects around the house.

Though the Pritts are excited about the change, they agree it is bittersweet.

“It’s a little melancholy too, because we put so much into it,” Robin Pritt said. “But at the same time, I think it’s time to move on.”

The Drug Store Grill has had a food truck, gone to festivals, catered numerous events over the years and served many a satisfied regular customer. Pritt said she is most proud that the restaurant has grown every year, and that she will miss the employees and customers she saw nearly every day.

“Everybody’s kind of grown to be more like family,” Pritt said.

Though there will be a new face behind the counter, Pursel has said he wants to continue to build on the relationships with the community that the grill already has.

“I just look forward to actually meeting them and them getting to know us, and realizing that we’re a part of Brookneal, Campbell County, Gladys, Rustburg, that we’re there and we’re going to stay there, and we just like being a part of the small town communities.” Pursel said about the Grill’s customers.

Pursel said he likes the historic character of the Drug Store Grill building. He also said his wife has ties to the Brookneal area, and he likes being a part of a small town, much the way he has become a part of the Rustburg community with the Lunch Box.

“I joke that if I had all the money that I wanted, I would build a restaurant like the Drug Store Grill,” Pursel said.

Pursel said he wants to provide the same high-quality food and service currently offered at the Drug Store Grill, but make it a more efficient dining experience.

The Lunch Box currently serves food to teachers at 24 area schools at least once a week, so Pursel is no stranger to efficiently serving a crowd. He said he looks forward to reaching even more Campbell County residents from the new restaurant.

“From the first time Art walked in, you just get a feeling about him that he wants to see the business do well, and he wants to grow the business,” Josh Pritt said. “In growing business, he's also going to help grow Brookneal. So if he can take the community and make it better, and also make the restaurant better then I have no heartache about getting out of it or letting let the restaurant go to someone else. Because I think Art’s going to do an amazing job with it.”

Pursel will officially take the restaurant over on March 1.