Gray Jay Provisions’ business model is cultivated on sourcing locally when able and providing creative comfort meals. This Friday, the eatery is boosting local artists and serving classic comfort food with an evening of Pizza and Tunes.
Started in 2017, Gray Jay is a curated market and diner that serves house-made sourdough-stacked sandwiches, steamy soups and fresh potato tots.
Pizza and Tunes began in July with musical performances from Prince Bellerose and Robby McCoubrey. Another evening of dining and dancing was hosted in August, but this weekend marks the first return of the event since summer.
Owner and chef Seth Amsden moved to the area in 2014 after a 14-year career in New England’s urban food scene. Taking the skills and inspiration he collected from leading Boston kitchens, Amsden has constructed a homey eatery that highlights marginalized groups and local producers to encourage a tight and supportive cross-culture community in the Valley.
Amsden said he hopes the event will position the restaurant to be a recurring spot for Harrisonburg-based musicians to showcase their talents.
“We just thought it would be a big hit. We thought it would build the community and a space where people can come and enjoy themselves,” Amsden said.
Friday’s menu features sourdough-crusted pizza, chicken fingers, tots, soup, salad and apple tart. As standard at Gray Jay, vegetarian and vegan options are available.
Valentin Prince, singer and guitarist for Prince Bellerose, said the inaugural show was a full house filled with fun and high spirits.
“It was really packed. There was a line out the door, and they sold out of pizza,” Prince said. “It was a great time though — lots of energy and dancing.”
Rural rock group Cahoots and folk sister-duo Spectator Birds are scheduled to perform on Friday. The musical acts began performing professionally around the same time last year and have been invaluable support systems for each other, according to electrical guitarist for Cahoots Ben Bailey.
Lindsey FitzGerald, guitarist and singer in Spectator Birds, said the band does not often play at restaurants, but she is excited to share the bill with Cahoots.
“We got on board because we're always happy to play with those guys and we love to support local businesses, restaurants and we’re just a huge fan of bringing music and food together,” FitzGerald said. “We play at all types of venues, but I love Gray Jay because the food is so excellent and the space is beautiful and they care as much about the music as they do the food.”
Bailey attended the first Pizza and Tunes night to support Prince Bellerose. He said the environment was harmonious and captured the lively spirit of the music scene in town.
“It was a great vibe. It was one of those special midsummer Harrisonburg evenings when the town feels quiet and vacant, but then a bunch of folks who live here gather at the same place in the evening, seemingly by accident, and the town feels alive and happening for a nice moment,” Bailey said.
The two bands will end the night collaborating on covers of songs by country artists like Gillian Howard Welch and John Prine.
Besides Pizza and Tunes, Gray Jay also hosts quarterly pop-up dinner nights that consist of a five-course tasting menu with wine pairings. The next community gathering will be a holiday market on Dec. 15 featuring local artisans and a door raffle.
Gray Jay Provisions, located at 1311 S. High St., will be serving the event menu from 5-9 p.m. on Friday, and the music starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free.