Cecil Sessoms walks into the 701 Grill and bellows out his usual: “Frankie, fix me up with a sausage dog.” And, without any hesitation, the grill’s chef begins preparing the request.
Sessoms, like many locals, enjoys the friendliness and food found at the grill that is located about one mile north of the city limits on U.S. 701. In fact, the Sampson County resident says he’s a frequent visitor, there for a sausage dog.
“I come here almost every day,” Sessoms says. “You know it’s good or I wouldn’t keep coming back.”
And just as quickly as Sessoms places his order, chef Frankie Honrine delivers.
The sausage dogs are just one of the many menu items that goes quickly.
“I make about 100 sausage dogs each day,” Honrine acknowledges, spatula in hand, flipping the pork links as they sizzle on the grill.
Honrine goes through about 12 dozen eggs each day — that’s 144 eggs to be exact.
“I buy 30 dozen eggs on Tuesday and another 30 dozen eggs on Friday,” he explained, one-handedly cracking open two of them for a breakfast plate.
The daily grill orders vary. While the sausage dog is popular, Honrine says he has a lot of diners who come in and order a “Ho Bo” — scrambled eggs and sausage mixed together and served any way you like it — on toast, in a bun or on a plate.
The 701 Grill is one of the few of its kind left in Sampson County. Outside, there are a few gas pumps. Inside, there are coolers of cold soda, water, juice and beer mixed with a snack or two. For those who prefer to dine in, there are a couple of tables and stools at the bar, if you’re lucky enough to get a seat, that is.
Honrine says it’s the down-home feel that makes the grill special.
“We have a more one-on-one policy with our customers,” he attests. “From the time you walk in the door until you leave, we will make you feel at home and get you whatever you need.”
The 701 Grill has been around for a few years, but Honrine has been the head grill master for the last six of them. Every morning, Monday through Saturday, at 6 a.m., he and his staff turn on the grill and begin filling orders. Sometimes, he adds, he isn’t the first one there.
“You’ve got people like Steve over there who are banging on the doors at 5:30 each morning trying to get in,” Honrine points out. He chuckles as he talks, always keeping one eye fixed on the last of the sausage dogs left on the grill
Steve Bradshaw is one of the many who frequent the grill on a daily basis and sometimes twice in one day. On this particular day, he came in early and ordered his usual — a sausage dog. He returned during his lunch break and ordered two hot dogs and fries.
“I love it,” Bradshaw acknowledges, taking a bite of the freshly prepared franks. “It’s what keeps me coming every day. I have to have a sausage dog.”
Not everyone is lucky enough to have the daily access to the grill. Will Harris, a truck driver from Ohio, had a delivery to make in Clinton, so he says while he was waiting, he stopped at the 701 Grill to get a bite to eat.
“I smelled the deliciousness and came on in,” Harris says. “This is the kind of food you get at home, fresh cooked and made to order.”
Harris said his mother was from Tennessee, so he grew up eating sausage, eggs and grits.
“Everything tastes just like it did when my mom used to make it,” Harris stresses. “You can bet that if I am this way again, I’ll be back.”
The grill operates on a freshness policy — the hamburgers are fresh, never frozen, and fresh orders of sausage are delivered every other day. In fact, each morning, Honrine and Stella Fraga weigh the hamburger and press out the patties.
“We make our own chili, too,” Honrine said.
The grill has a full breakfast and lunch menu, including burgers, hot dogs, eggs, grits, bacon, sausage, fries, onion rings and more.
Located at 2487 Hobbton Hwy., Clinton, the grill is open Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.