Hometown Eats: Gillie’s

Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 4:14 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) -It’s not every day you come across a restaurant open for five decades with the same owners. So when you do, you better dance on over and pull up a chair!

We’re veggin’ out on some vegan in Blacksburg at Gillie’s in this week’s Hometown Eats!

“Gillie’s is Blacksburg,” said Noah Gillie, who is part of the family that owns the restaurant. Noah is the head cook and kitchen manager.

In 1974, a Virginia Tech grad found the perfect spot on the corner of College and Draper in Blacksburg to open an ice cream shop. Half a century later, Gillie’s remains.

“Oldest original family-owned establishment in town,” said Gillie.

Needless to say, when Noah’s dad Jan cut the ribbon on this joint, people were excited.

“The rumor is there was lines around the block,” joked Gillie.

Jan married the love of his life Ranae, who came on board and helped the menu evolve beyond just ice cream.

“Primary vegetarian and pescatarian and that’s what it was. That’s what Blacksburg used to be around that time. My mom liked to say we’re only going to cook something that doesn’t walk,” said Gillie.

And the little kid in this picture is now the professionally trained head cook in the kitchen. Noah had no plans to make a career out of Gillie’s but after working out west, his road led back home.

“That’s what drives me. When your name is on the door, you got to have some sort of pride in that,” said Gillie.

Something else the Gillies take pride in is the story behind the family car. They sold that 1957 Chevy Bel-Air to the movie “Dirty Dancing.” They didn’t put Jan’s baby in a corner, but he wasn’t thrilled to see Patrick Swayze bust out the back window.

However, Gillie’s will shatter any stereotype you have on vegetarian or vegan cuisine.

“It’s honestly one of the healthiest options in town,” said parent of third year Virginia Tech student Treena Lombardo.

“If you go to some places, they might have one or two vegetarian options like maybe a portabella sandwich. We want to be able to branch out,” said Gillie.

And that’s exactly what Noah and the crew are doing in the kitchen seven days a week.

“Probably one of my favorite dishes is the peanut tofu wrap or the tofu reuben,” said Gillie. “We offer breakfast items all day now.”

You won’t find ice cream anymore but in case the sweet tooth comes knocking, Gillie’s offers freshly baked treats from Bollo’s Bakery, which is about 100 feet down the block.

“It’s a very Blacksburg restaurant. It’s got a laid-back vibe and the food is really good and the people are really nice and it’s right on one of the best streets in Blacksburg,” said Lombardo.

“Without the regulars, without the townies, Blacksburg and Gillie’s wouldn’t be what it is,” said Gillie.

Gillie’s, a hometown eat where it’s good to be in the corner.

Gillies is open seven days a week and is at 153 College Avenue, Blacksburg, VA 24060.