Gigi’s in Norwood is all about family and comfort

Published 3:23 pm Thursday, April 4, 2019

A new restaurant specializing in home-style comfort food recently opened in downtown Norwood.

The restaurant wants customers to be as comfortable eating the food as they are conversing with the staff, including owner Jill Hawley, who goes by Gigi.

And her nickname happens to be the name of the restaurant.

Gigi’s, which is owned by Jill and her husband, Timothy, along with their oldest daughter, Andrea Horn, opened March 8. Horn is also the general manager.

Originally from Florida, the family lives in Mount Gilead, but spent several years residing in Norwood.

Norwood clearly made an impact on the family.

“We love Norwood and the community,” Jill said.

Jill has eight grandchildren who all call her Gigi, so the name just seemed fitting for the restaurant, she said.

While this is the family’s first restaurant, both Jill and her daughter have experience in the food business.

Horn has spent more than 15 years working at various food establishments, including Bojangles, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and Ruby Tuesday, among others, while Jill has more than 10 years of experience, including as manager of a Sheridan Inn restaurant in Florida.

Horn has trained the employees in the kitchen since the first day, she said. She is in charge of the back of the house, while Jill is in charge of the front of the house.

Chef Andrea Horn putting the finishing touches on a cheeseburger.

“We have always dreamed about having our own restaurant,” Jill said. “And so the only place we could think of was Norwood.”

The family decided to open a restaurant around September of last year.  Opening their first restaurant was “a step of faith,” Timothy said.

But so far, Gigi’s has been doing well.

And much of that comes from their expansive menu: it’s several pages and offers a plethora of different breakfast, lunch and dinner meals.

Breakfast options include egg plates, omelets and pancakes and waffles; lunch includes traditional classics like the BLT, turkey club and hamburger steak; dinner includes many burgers, an eight-ounce sirloin steak and spaghetti.

They serve breakfast all day and already have several popular dishes, including marinated grilled chicken smothered with bell peppers, onions, bacon and cheddar cheese, homemade spaghetti, hamburger steaks and the Philly cheesesteak.

Gigi’s homemade spaghetti sauce and pasta served with garlic bread and a side of lima beans.

Gigi’s also offers a variety of vegetables including pinto beans, collards, fried okra, green beans, fried squash and lima beans.

As if that’s not enough, Gigi’s has a pastry chef, Christa Grissom, who makes German chocolate cake, red velvet cheesecake, peach cobbler and banana pudding.

The restaurant wants to cater birthday parties because Grissom makes birthday cakes, the owners said.

And with all the food comes loyal customers.

“They got the best food in Norwood,” said Eddie Schrum.

He is already a regular patron of Gigi’s, along with his wife, Alisca, and 2-year-old son, Johnathan.

The family loves the homemade spaghetti and the western omelet.

Many of the younger customers, including Johnathan, enjoy interacting with Jill and calling her Gigi.

Even though they’ve been open for less than a month, Gigi’s already has a drive-through window and delivery service to people in Norwood. They are also planning on getting their beer and wine license.

The restaurant is looking into having a small jazz ensemble of South Stanly High School students perform on Saturday nights. Jill is looking to book entertainment for Friday nights as well.

Gigi’s is looking to have a community night, where a certain percentage of the proceeds will go to local organizations, schools and churches.

But the family keeps coming back to the message of wanting their customers to be comfortable at Gigi’s.

“I would really love for them to feel like they have just come into a family reunion, that they’re part of the family,” Jill said. “And I want to bring them back. I want the food to be so good that they will come back and tell their friends all about it.”

“It’s like they are going to their grandmother’s house to eat,” Jill added.

And that’s something Jill — err, Gigi knows all about.

Gigi’s is open 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. each day.

Contact Chris Miller at 704-982-2122.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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