Please Keep off the Grass
To the person who found my site from searching "hi fi grotto corndogs": I love you (or not, out of curiosity I ran a simpler search on hi fi grotto and got only two hits, a freaky My Space guy and another posting on America's #1 Conservative Community). Weirdly, I didn't find my site at all using those keywords so I'm not clear how the original searcher got here from Google, though I am very familiar with Grotto corn dogs.
I swear I've written about The Grotto before, though I can't seem to find any evidence of it. It was (and likely still is-it's listed on Yahoo yellow pages) a dumpy little food shack across the street from Gresham High where all the stoners hung out because it wasn't school property and you could smoke out front. I was never a druggie, nor a rocker, but I did smoke, so yes, I'd often be hanging out front of the Grotto at lunch (though not usually before school, which was for the more hardcore).
Everyone called it The Grotto (which isn't to be mistaken with this Grotto, which will come up frequently if you search Gresham and Grotto) but there was a leftover '60s style sign on the side of the building that said Hi Fi Grotto, perhaps its official name. I don't recall if there was a sign in front or if it was even a proper restaurant. I'm not sure if it was even open during the evening, and it's not like non-school related adults ever set foot near there. It wasn't like Arnold's on Happy Days, there were a few seats, but most people would bring food back to the cafeteria. And while it was fronted by metal-heads, all social strata ate there. It was run by an older woman who had lots of dated signs plastered everywhere that said things like "please keep off the grass." I don't know that '80s teens even were hip to that pot lingo.
At some point, a Christian guy who had kids who attended our school, bought the place and tried to reach out to troubled teens. Once I even got dragged there after-hours (that answers my question as to whether it was open at night) to some group counseling thing by a friend who had to attend a session. It was like AA for kids. I didn't need to be counseled, I was raised pretty straight-laced, but my pals tended to be types with alcoholic and/or problem parents (now that I think about it, one friend's mom died of a heroin overdose and another's mom had shot herself in the head, but didn't die and as a result had a glass eye and strange vocal chord inhibited voice) or drug problems of their own, and I would tagalong to their creepy shit like this (as well as get talked into driving to scary houses in the woods to buy drugs, despite not being much of a partaker).
The Grotto owner gave this friend a job selling sheet music at his piano store, and I do recall dropping her off once and that she had to snort crystal meth before heading in and told me I could chew the bag if I wanted (obviously, his attempts at employing her, trying to give her religion and making an upstanding citizen out of her weren't working too well).
Anyway, I never ate a Grotto corndog because they've always made me queasy (I also don't eat hotdogs, which people find hard to believe since I'm a junk food nut) but I was very fond of their super-fried fries with special sauce that was likely just ketchup and mayonnaise. But I'm glad to see there's someone out there with nostalgia for Grotto cuisine.