By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Regina Holmes believes everything happens for a reason.

When she and her husband, J.J., had the chance to rebrand the couple’s Native Grill and Wings stores, they ran with it. 

“Life happens for a reason,” she says. “We had some opportunities, and it made sense for us to go off. We were able to rebrand, and it was great. We are now J.J.’s Grubb Shack.”

On May 20, their Happy Valley location opened, followed by Goodyear on May 29 and Avondale in early June.

“We’re rebranding with a new menu and a different look and feel,” Regina says. “We’re really excited about it. The concept originates from having family and friends at a backyard barbecue. My husband and I, one thing we love to do is entertain friends. He comes from a family where he’s the youngest of eight. I have a close-knit family. 

“It’s customary for us to have friends and family over on the weekend.”

The menu is broken up into sections. Sticking with the party theme are the “Backyard Burgers”—bacon butt burger, the “Hair of the Dog” and the Grubb Shack original ($11.99 to $13.99). 

The “Shanty Dogs” are backyard dog with tomatoes, onion, cheese and bacon; the “Atomic Dog” with jalapenos, cheddar and onions; the Dirty Dog with chili, cheese and onions; and The Mutt, where the customer chooses his/her own toppings. They start at $6.99.

For “Samiches,” J.J.’s has a Grubb Clubb ($10.39); Po’ Shacks (shrimp/fish for $10.99); Grilled Cheezie ($5.99); Piggly Wiggly ($9.99); and the Saucy Bird with buffalo chicken ($11.99). 

“The Water Hole” has a Noodler Nugget Plate and Some Shrimps Plate for $10.99 

Of course, there’s barbecue, under the “Finger Lick’n Good” menu. For $12.99 guests can have a rib tip basket. 

“From the Coop” features wings—chicken and waffles, salt and vinegar, lemon pepper, Buffalo, hot, honey hot, honey barbecue, barbecue hot, Shoutin’ John and Halleluiah Hot. 

Appetizers (“Pre-Grubbin’”), salads (“Wild Greens”) and pizzas (“Shack Pies”) are available as well. 

For dessert, the “Sugga Shack” has Fudgy Gooey Brownie, bourbon pecan pie and Mama’s Cookie.

“Our menu is going to be focused on bar and grill, fun foods,” she says. “People can come and socialize and enjoy themselves. Kids will be running around having a good time. At some point, we hope we can get back to that.”

The couple’s first restaurant is attached to their small liquor store, where they offer catfish platters and burgers. 

“When we moved out here (from Colorado), we purchased a liquor store, and we had that for a number of years,” she says. “We added a restaurant onto it. We wanted to offer something that brought a backyard feel.

“This has a very similar feel and the same name. These are sports bars and grills, though, with plenty of televisions. One of the things my husband said is, ‘I cannot have a bar and grill without sports.’ He’s a sports enthusiast. 

“He played sports at University of Colorado Boulder for a little bit. He had a lot of friends play professionally. All-things sports is his passion.”

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff had the restaurant sanitized, she adds, and doesn’t take anything for granted. She posted on social media that they’re strictly adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on social distancing.

“We’re longing for the days when we could all hug each other by the bar,” she says. “We’re not there yet. For our curbside takeout, all of our runners wore gloves and masks—same when you dine with us. We’ll have hand sanitizer available. All of our kitchen staff will adhere to the appropriate guidelines.”

Regina admits it’s a little difficult to open restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It was hard, but we have a solid business plan that we feel good about,” she says. “The reality is this is what we do now. It wasn’t any harder than feeling if we walked away, we were going to be a failure. No one wants that. We rebranded, rebuilt and we recognize it’s not going to be where it was in February. But we’re ready the minute the doors open. We’re prepared for the long haul.”

J.J.’s Grubb Shack,

2501 W. Happy Valley Road, Suite 12, Phoenix

10220 W. McDowell Road, Suite 160, Avondale

15375 W. McDowell Road, Goodyear