Open more than a year, local coffee house continues to add new features

Published in the November 13, 2013 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Staff Report

Photo by Marty Cheek GVA owner Renee Carrillo and manager Mary Connolly in the GVA Cafe.

Photo by Marty Cheek
GVA owner Renee Carrillo and manager Mary Connolly in the GVA Cafe.

Step into the Grinds Vines & Automobilia (GVA) Cafe in the historic Votow Building in downtown Morgan Hill and you’ll step into an eatery/coffee house where you can fast make friends. Owner Renee Carrillo and manager Mary Connolly have created a welcoming dining destination where local residents often order a quick morning pre-work cup of joe or come in to leisurely enjoy deli-style fare for breakfast, lunch or dinner amid the ambiance of race car memorabilia.

“We make sandwiches to order for our customers so they get exactly what they want,” Carrillo said. “And most of our pastries are baked here on site… cinnamon rolls, scones, cookies, croissants. The rest is ordered in from Gourmet Express, which provides the highest quality of desserts that we can get.”

The cafe’s fresh brew comes from the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company and is 100 percent organic and fair trade, Carrillo said. To go with their cup of java, patrons often order a generous bowl of gluten-free Classico gelato (made in the Bay Area with only fresh ingredients) or a slice of Gizdich Ranch fruit pie baked in a kitchen at the famous Watsonville apple farm.

Customers who come into GVA Cafe for breakfast often order homemade crepes with fresh fruit, delicious waffles or breakfast sandwiches on a toasted bagel. For lunch and dinner, the cafe offers specials every day of generously-proportioned sandwiches such as corned-beef or the popular pulled-pork sandwiches served with fresh soup. The cafe’s mini-chicken pot pies are also a favorite among patrons.

Carrillo likes to get creative with her menu, surprising customers with such culinary concoctions as her croissant-wrapped polish dogs baked on the premises, a delicious comfort food that has developed a following among regulars. “I’m always trying to be innovative and provide something different,” she said. “We can also make a vegetarian dish, such as our rice bowls. We can make them with teriyaki chicken or we can make them with all vegetables and tofu.”

On weekends when bands play in the music lounge, GVA Cafe provides customers with a wide variety of appetizers to sample along with the wide selection of wine and beer it serves. The name of one band confused some customers who came in, Carrillo admitted with a laugh. “When we have our band Liver and Onions playing, customers have said, “liver and onions, great!” but they thought it was the food. So now we’ll be providing liver and onions when the band plays the last Friday of every month.”

GVA’s music lounge was opened only last spring but has grown into a weekend entertainment venue that is attracting local musicians as well as nationally-known performers including the Grammy-award winning Don Henry.


“We’re opening up to local talent and welcoming talent from all over that want to come out here and play,” Carrillo said. “A little place that opened in May having such popular performances shows that people like live music, people enjoy live music entertainment.”

In coming months, Carrillo will turn the GVA lounge into “The Office” for people who want a place to work during the daytime, converting it into an entertainment venue after hours. “I want to promote The Office because I want to bring more people in here,” she said. “We have a whole new design coming in with tables and portable outlets for computers and all of that. We’ll also have a couple of printers available so people can make paper documents. The idea is that people can work here and enjoy coffee during the day. A lot of people like working in cafes because it keeps them alert.”

Grinds Vines & Automobilia Cafe

Location: 17400 Monterey Road
Hours: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday
Contact: (408) 776-0571, or

Marty Cheek

Marty Cheek

Publisher at Morgan Hill Life
Marty Cheek is the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. He is also the co-author with Congressman Jerry McNerney of the book Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America From the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels.
Phone: (408) 782-7575
Marty Cheek