“We talked in the past about opening a bar or restaurant at some point in time. Something we noticed early on was that with most of our favorite San Diego bars, you could never really tell what they were simply by hearing the name. San Diego’s iconic places have names like Toronado, Tiger!Tiger!, and Live Wire. The moniker doesn’t exactly describe what they are until you walk in the door and discover it for yourself. Five years ago, Liz said that if we ever opened our own place, GRND SQRL would be a fantastic name. Fast forward to last year, when I brought the idea of opening our own place in Twentynine Palms, I had already pretty much finished up the business plan and she was super supportive. Her enthusiastic response was, “We’re calling it GRND SQRL, right?” Funny thing is, we hadn’t discussed the squirrel event since that fateful day on the road five years prior.”
When asked about the current clientele, Mike looked around at all the busy tables surrounding us and replied, “GRND SQRL has a really good mix of customers thus far. Certainly, with me being home-grown, we’ve had a lot of great local support. People are figuring out where we are and the reviews have been super positive. Those reviews are our lifeblood since tourists and other potential new guests are using Google and/or Yelp to see what to expect before dining out. Accurate and thoughtful reviews tell us when we are on track or where we may have slightly missed the mark. We are getting more and more of that tourist population through the front door every week, so it’s been good.”
“From an entertainment standpoint, we’ve been doing an open mic night here on Wednesday and have a talented core of local comedians who attend. We have three or four musical acts every week and experimented with some spoken word. We do live music on Friday and Saturday; our regular Friday night guy played at the Twentynine Palms Inn for five or six years and sets a great vibe. Trivia has been added to Thursday nights, so we are quite busy from Wednesday through Saturday.”
After purchasing my GRND SQRL beanies, Mike thought our time together was over. I was having no part of that and reminded him I was still missing the second half of the double meaning behind their unique name. “Oh yeah” he replied with a grin, “the other side of the GRND SQRL naming story is that we consider ourselves to be underground desert rats, just like ground squirrels. We’ve created a place where local desert rats gather…that they can call home. It’s crazy how many little squirrel tokens and squirrel statues and stuff people have gifted us. Liz and I joke about what a great feeling it is referring to ourselves as King and Queen Squirrel and we really love seeing guests experience the magic this team has created. It’s then that we know we are around our people.”
GRND SQRL is located at 73471 29 Palms Highway in Twentynine Palms. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates and special events.