Food for Thought: Grayslake Restaurant Sets a Seat at the Table for Kindness

August 08, 2017

Mallory-Lennon Simmermon, 24, was born and raised in Chicago but currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Brooklyn. She is the front-woman of the Chicago-based folk fusion band, Mallory Lennon and the Sykadelix. Mallory graduated from Loyola University Chicago, where she attained her BA in English Literature and Jazz Studies. Her interests include artistic evolution, creative integrity, and educating students of all socioeconomic upbringings to use music and art as a means of communicating. When she isn’t traveling for music, Mallory enjoys volunteering with the Music Therapy program for victims of PTSD at the Lake County VA, reading any David Foster Wallace books she can get her hands on, and listening to the Grateful Dead.

Tucked amongst the cozy walkways of Grayslake, IL, The Vine Restaurant has been a staple in the community for the past 11 years. Of course, while it is true that food has always been something that brings people together, Michael Pruitt, co-owner of The Vine, has taken that preexisting notion and turned it into a hub for kindness.

Back in 2006, Pruitt opened The Vine at the tender age of 22. When discussing his vision for opening, he said, “We wanted to bring something new to our community that brought the warm and social environment that you would normally get downtown.” From the moment, you step into his creation, you can feel that warmth. For the past 11 years, Pruitt and The Vine have created several events that help raise money for local charities, but that also bring the community together. The Vine has sponsored and put on events such as Bourbon and Beer Fest, Grayslake Car Show, Blues Fest, and many others to raise money for the community youth center (which Mr. Pruitt is on the board of), food shelters, and families in need. Pruitt stated, “When community groups ask me to help out, I just can’t say no because I’m part of the community.”

Michael has always shown up for the community, regardless of whether or not he sponsors that event. One of The Vine’s accolades that stood out heavily in the community was a private “Molecular Dinner,” in which Top Chef contestant Chris Jones cooked for 100 people. This event raised $10,000 for the Northern Illinois Food Bank, which used the money to feed 60,000 people. In the state of Illinois alone, one in eight people struggles with hunger ( With that in mind, the ingenuity and kindness of this act is felt in an overwhelming way.

It’s clear that The Vine has created more than kindness on a large scale in the community, but has also created it on a smaller scale as well. For example, Mike and his staff at The Vine once rallied up the community to help get a wheel chair accessible van donated for a local family and their son.

Michael Pruitt and his staff at The Vine have created a sense of kindness in the community that can be felt on a much larger scale. For example, on June 3rd, 2017, the Vine held their fifth annual Beer Festival, which raised $100,000 for the Grayslake Scholarship Fund. To find out more about the events that they have coming up to benefit the community, you can visit their website, which is listed below.