ALVIN - You ever believe in something so much you want to share it with the world? That’s the case for a couple of area restaurant owners. In this Positively Houston we introduce you to them. Meet Adrian Hembree and VJ Nandlal. "Are you ready? Stand back. This is our birthday shake. It’s our Birthday Cake Explosion," they playfully smile while lighting sparkling fireworks that top one of their amazing specialty shakes.
When you stop by Grace Pizza and Shakes in Alvin, the name sort of gives it away, but you can expect a whole lot more than a good pizza pie. "We just want to show a little grace, ok," Nandlal says greeting a table full of customers. At Grace Pizzeria you’re not just in for a meal but an experience. For instance, at a time when experts are reminding us to check on our neighbor’s mental health, one of the first questions at Grace isn’t what would you like to drink but rather "How are you doing? How’s everything going?" Nandlal asks.
"Like a great ‘Hi. How are you? Man, I’m good. Thank you'. It means a lot. Good conversation means a lot," adds Hembree. There are actually plenty of conversation starters, such as words of encouragement written on the walls.
"If you come in here and you’re not doing so good we want to personally help you. We want to personally help you because I know there were so many people besides God who helped me," says Nandlal. That’s actually how Hembree and Nandlal came up with Grace Pizza, a spot for not only good food but also a positive environment. "We have sayings on our walls. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see. We want to see people do well. You'll also see on our walls pictures of the local vendors we buy from. We buy meat for our pizza toppings from local ranchers. Produce, our ice cream all comes from local vendors and each are carefully selected," they explain.
The two restaurant owners want to give their customers the gift of grace because they believe their faith saved their lives. "I’ve walked this road without God in my heart, thinking about myself first and at the end of the day I was chasing something that I could never find," Hembree explains.
In 2016, Nandlal nearly didn’t make it out of a horrible car wreck alive, at a time when he was living much of his life under the influence. "I fell asleep behind the wheel and instead of hitting the brakes, they said I hit the gas and I ran into two oak trees. I was going between 85 and 95 miles an hour. Doctors told my parents it was only a 10% chance that I’d live and I’d never walk again and never use the left side of my body again. After this, I just said God if you could take this away from me Lord, take these urges to drink and do other things away from me and I promise I’ll live my life right. Since 2017 I’ve been completely sober," Nandlal explains.
Blessed with second chances, they’re now spreading hope to others. "If I could just help one person to not make the choices that I made then I feel like my job is done. I try to be a beacon of light to everybody that I meet," smiles Nandlal.
Hembree and Nandlal say they want you to arrive at their restaurant hungry and leave full of inspiration, encouragement, joy, and good food. By the way, $.50 of every one of those amazing birthday cake shakes sold goes to the non-profit Kidz Harbor.