Nestled in the small hamlet of Cessford, Alberta, lies The Prairie Girl Country Grill. Owned and operated by Mandy Griffith, a rancher and mother of three, this unique restaurant has become a thriving community hub.
“There hasn’t been a restaurant or a bar [in Cessford] for many, many, years . . . so [The Prairie Girl] really is a place where people come to gather,” says Griffith. “We get the bus drivers in the morning once they’re done their run. We get the kids who come over from the school or the teachers who come over for lunch . . . Our ranchers [also] come through.”
Having grown up in Olds on a mixed farming operation before moving to Cessford, Griffith believes her love of entertaining and great food came from her ranching background.
“There’s always lots of food. And maybe it comes a bit from being from a ranch family, where you do brandings and have big meals and crop meals where you feed lots of people,” says Griffith.
Her background also inspired many of the items on her menu, paying tribute to the farmers and ranchers that make it all possible.
“I wanted to bring our prairies—our ranching community [to the table]. I wanted lots of beef and meat. Super important!”
One of The Prairie Girl’s signature drinks, the Saskatoon Moscow Mule, and hot button item, The Prairie Girl Grilled Cheese, features unique local ingredients like Saskatoon berries.
“Saskatoons are a very prairie fruit, so I wanted to utilize that,” says Griffith. “We get local fruit and things like that from farmers’ markets and wherever possible.”
The community spirit and friendly staff bring people back again and again, making Griffith’s favourite part of running the restaurant, the people that sit at her tables.
“I love having the regulars come in, and I know what they’re going to order or my staff knows what they’re going to order, because they come in weekly or they come in all the time.”
Griffith also has a guest book for new comers who visit the restaurant from all around the world.
“I also love the new people that come in, people who we’ve never met before . . . We’ve got people who come from Europe or [who are] travelling down to Dinosaur Park who come in.”
With the wide range of traffic revolving through its doors, The Prairie Girl Country Grill is a name that’s spreading across the industry.
“We go to lots of places and hear our name, which is really cool,” says Griffith. “Or you talk to somebody who’s talked to somebody who’s heard of us across the province.”
Looking to the future, Griffith looks forward to sharing her rural roots with new faces as the business continues to gain popularity.
“I love being the hub for the community . . . I think that part is the coolest—meeting people and being that social gathering place.”
To learn more about The Prairie Girl, watch our interview with Mandy Griffith here.
This has been a Home Grown segment, brought to you by connectFirst Credit Union, showcasing Alberta producers, artisans, and farming communities.