By: Marshall Waren
Since we started CityView ten years ago, this column has mostly been about Fayetteville, the old and new. Well, on Friday night, April 8th, 2016, when the Haymont Grill was destroyed by fire, a piece of Fayetteville died.
The Haymont Grill has been an institution in Fayetteville for over sixty years, and I have been going there for close to fifty years. The food was always good and the prices right, but the most memorable part of the grill was the fellowship enjoyed there. Most every politician has gone to the Grill for some type of meeting or fundraiser, and it has been written about in many publications throughout the state.
The Grill was located at the apex of Haymount hill. The area is called Haymount because it was at the top of Hay Street. The story of how the Grill became the Haymont Grill, and then the Hamont Grill, was based on the sign on top of the building. Tradition holds that years ago, in order to save $5,000 in construction costs, two letters “y” and “u” were left out. I assume that later it was easier to spell it “Haymont” instead of the longer “Haymount,” named after the area.
The Grill was owned and operated by the Skenteris’s, a Greek family, Pete, the father, and Deno and Jimmy, his two sons. Many a Greek immigrant to Fayetteville got their start working at the Haymont Grill. Two men I know the best are Greg Kalevas, owner of Chris’s Steak House and Pete Skenteris (Pete of Haymont Grill’s nephew) owner of Lindy’s Restaurant. They both started as dish washers at the Grill.
The Haymont Grill was just plain part of historic Fayetteville. People would say, “Let’s meet for breakfast or lunch at the Grill.” When I started the story on the iconic Fleishman family, it all began at the Grill. Harvey Fleishman, the source of most of my material, was a regular there. He and I would chat about his Uncle Maurice Fleishman and Babe Ruth’s first home run, which gave me my original idea for featuring his family.
My father was a regular there for years. His office was originally across Fort Bragg Road, in the Wooten building, and then they moved to the corner of Olive and Morganton, a short walk from the Grill. In 1972, I worked with Pilot Life in that same building on Olive and Morganton and visited the Grill daily. I was a young man fresh in the insurance business and it gave me an opportunity to fraternize with older businessmen and “learn the ropes.” Here again, the list of Fayetteville greats that visited would be too numerous to name. Pete had most of their pictures on his Wall of Fame behind the cash register. Even for the past several years, I have had a Bible study at the Grill every Thursday morning. People met there daily for breakfast, coffee or just simply to chat about what was going on in Fayetteville. It will be so greatly missed.
Even if the Skenteris’s rebuild, it will not be the same. Most of Fayetteville’s hearts and prayers are pouring out to Pete and Frederica, his wife, and Deno and Jimmy. God has certainly blessed Fayetteville with the Haymont Grill. Great memories were created at that place, and those memories will live on forever.