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HALSEY – The Grassland Café is a bit of an oasis in the middle of grass-seed country.

The cafe, which opened Aug. 23, is the only restaurant in this small town of 925 people, though a bar in town also serves food. Halsey had been without an all-ages eatery for about a half-year.

Hilary Norton, Halsey city administrator, said the café was “incredibly important” to residents.

“It’s nice to feel like a complete town,” she added.

“If you asked people what Halsey needed, the first thing out of their mouth was a restaurant or coffee shop. We’d love to have two,” Norton said.

The Grassland Café means that residents don’t have to drive to Harrisburg or Brownsville for breakfast or lunch.

“I’m glad there’s a little café in town again,” said Regina Troyer, who lives in the Halsey area. She was having breakfast with her two sisters and nieces and nephews on Friday at the restaurant.

Grassland Café owner Mary Granzow, who moved from Montana about a year ago, has created a build-it-yourself menu with plenty of options.

“It’s all fresh produce, fresh ingredients, fresh everything,” Granzow said.

Customers can order bowls of grits or hash browns, burritos, sandwiches or more, and then customize them with a wide list of ingredients, including vegetarian and vegan options.

“I love it because you can get hash browns, bacon and eggs, or you can get spiced greens and all this fancy stuff,” said café worker Malisa Lowrey.

Granzow said some customers order flavor combinations she had never considered before.

So far, the most popular item on the menu has been the loaded turkey taco salad.

The café also features daily breakfast and lunch specials and serves Pastega coffee.

With its early morning hours, the Grasslands Cafe has been popular with truckers headed through town.

The restaurant sits near the intersection of Highway 99E and Highway 228, which gets 4,000 vehicles a day, Granzow said.

She has big plans for the gravel lot just north of the restaurant.

Currently, the Halsey Crossroads Marketplace is held in that lot from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday, and that will continue until the rainy season, Granzow said.

She hopes to create a building to hold a year-round produce market there.

Norton was happy that Granzow had cleaned up the gravel lot, which had been an “eyesore,” and she was excited about the year-round farmers market. “That will bring people in from other communities,” she added.

The Grassland Café, 80 W. Second St. in Halsey, is open from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday through Saturday (including Labor Day).

For more information, go to the business’ Facebook page or call 541-369-3662.

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Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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Business Reporter