RED OAK — A bite out of history and laid-back, welcoming atmosphere is exactly what Gran Gran’s Catfish & Soul Food has been serving the citizens of Ellis County and visitors alike since opening its doors earlier this year. The restaurant's popularity has taken off following its Jan. 5 opening, and it may just soar.
Gran Gran's began filming a pilot for a new reality TV show Friday, Dec. 16.
Glenn Heights resident and restaurant owner, Ursula Medlock shared that she has aspired to have a television show for quite some time and her dream might just come true.
“A company called N2U Media was following me and watching my Facebook page and saw all of the good feedback. The guy from the company asked me, ‘Do you want to be famous?’ I told him I already was,” Medlock joked. “Then he asked if I seriously wanted a show and said we can make it happen. He said we could do the pilot and go from there.”
N2U Media is a photography and cinematography business based out of Arlington and owned by Darryl Gibson.
“They’re planning to interview customers and film us in the kitchen and the front. The first episode will be about how Gran Gran’s got started,” Medlock explained. “The producer told us that they will be following us and that they will dig into your family and home life. They’ll shoot the first episode now and the second sometime after the new year.”
The restaurant owner also shared that the show will be available on YouTube and a podcast after filming has finalized and that the company is under contract with a television channel.
“It might be a little different to have people I don’t know in our private lives, I’ll have to watch what I say, but they’ll probably want me to act badly. They’re having the company explain to our staff to act as if the cameras are not there when they’re filming because it needs to be reality. I told them when I get to hollering at them when we’re busy they’re gonna know it’s reality. They said ‘Oh Lord, she’s for real,'” Medlock joked.
The show will feature Medlock’s husband, Brian, and herself, as well as her employees Jessica Tarver, Reginald Freeman, Carmen Wilder and Kimberly Rhodes. She noted that her staff is already like a family and that some of them actually are family. Therefore, they act accordingly.
“I think the show is going to be funny because my husband is always back there cracking jokes with the employees. Carmen is short, so she can’t reach certain things in the kitchen, and she will just fall right over and Brian jokes with her about it,” Medlock said. “We have so much fun in the kitchen. We laugh and talk until we get busy, and then you bet I’m gonna start hollering.”
Staff members have expressed their excitement for the show via Facebook and to the Medlock’s.
“I’m excited and happy because if it weren’t for my grandma, I wouldn’t know how to make all of this. My mom didn’t teach me anything but how to fry pork chops, but my granny taught me everything else,” Medlock said.
The inspiration for the restaurant's name and menu stemmed from the legacy of family recipes and homestyle cooking that her grandmother Cecil Ernstine "Gran Gran" Anderson passed down to her. The recipes are found on Gran Gran’s breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. The breakfast menu offers seven different omelets, two full style breakfasts, pancakes, Belgian waffles, French toast and homemade biscuits. Lunch and dinner menus offer catfish filet baskets, meatloaf, baked and smothered chicken, grilled or fried pork chops and much more. Sides and desserts range from collard greens and sweet potatoes to peach cobbler and banana pudding.
Medlock previously shared with the WDL, “My grandmother was 107 years old when she passed and she was a phenomenal woman. She taught me how to cook. She taught me how to make peach cobbler, chicken and dressing, everything."
After her mother’s passing, her grandmother was her support system who she shared a very close relationship with.
“When she passed, I had to do something to honor her. We called her 'Gran Gran' and that’s how we got our name, Gran Gran’s Catfish & Soul Food,” Medlock explained. “I really want to dedicate our first episode to my granny for being the woman that she was and making me the woman I am today.”
On Dec. 15 of last year, Medlock lost her father who also made a lasting impact on her life.
“It’s sad because this time last year I was planning his funeral. I just want this to be for them because they really believed in me. I get to keep my granny’s name going, forever,” Medlock said.
Gran Gran’s is open Tuesday-Wednesday from 11:00 A.M.- 8:00 P.M, Thursday-Friday from 11:00 A.M.-10:00 P.M, Saturday from 11:00 A.M.- 8:00 P.M. and Sunday’s from 11:00 A.M.- 6:00 P.M
Kelsey Poynor, @KPoynor_WDL