November 18th, 2020

Rooted in McMinnville: Atticus Hotel’s Michelle Grannis

Michelle Grannis, concierge at Atticus Hotel, enjoys helping guests discover the nooks and crannies of McMinnville and Yamhill County. Photo by Dan Shryock

Michelle Grannis stands behind the front desk in the lobby of the Atticus Hotel, a 36-room luxury destination in downtown McMinnville less than a block from famous Third Street. She enthusiastically springs into our conversation as we walk into the adjoining Red Hills Kitchen restaurant and find our socially distanced chairs.

It’s clear Michelle loves her work as the hotel concierge after more than 15 years in the hospitality and food service industries. She’s equally adept at guiding hotel guests toward their memorable wine country experiences and concocting a custom macchiato on the hotel lobby espresso machine.

Q: You’re originally from Arizona. How long have you lived in the McMinnville area?

Michelle: I’ve been here for almost 10 years now. I came here for a little peace of mind and a little bit more solitude. I really liked Yamhill County. It’s kind of Oregon’s gem, if you will, and I feel McMinnville is still that way.

Q: If it’s Oregon’s gem, what makes it shine?

Michelle: I feel like there’s a real sense of community here. People take care of our town and, especially during a pandemic, people have a sense of protecting one another. You just feel safe.

Q: You are the concierge here at the Atticus Hotel. How would you describe your job description?

Michelle: I provide the magic carpet ride to the nooks and crannies of Yamhill County. I help our guests find the special places that you’ll take with you for the rest of your life as memories.

Q: But each guest is different. How do you know what they would like to do?

Michelle:  I try to get a good read on individuals and tap into their tastes and desires. Then I set a path where they should visit. I guess, if you will, I weave a tapestry for people and set them on their way. It’s kind of cool.

Q: How do you read somebody?

Michelle: I ask basic questions. What brings you here? Do you have family around? Are you celebrating? I go from there. Over time, you get a really good feel for people. Are they laid back or do they want something a little bit more hands on? If you’re laid back, check out these biodynamic wineries. Oh, you have a Louis Vuitton bag. I’m going to send you to Domaine Serene (winery).

I worked with a couple who were concerned about going anywhere that wasn’t well known or maybe a little too Oregon hippie-ish for them. I ended up sending them to the smallest small-batch, intimate wineries and they came back saying they wanted to move here. They fell in love with everywhere they went and it felt nice, you know? I got them.

Q: So, you pull back the curtains around McMinnville and Yamhill County?

Michelle: Sure. You could say that. At least I hope so.

Q: Many of your Atticus Hotel guests come for the wine experience. Is there something else you like to showcase?

Michelle: I love wine but I’m a beer human through and through. I think that even though McMinnville and Yamhill County is full of some of the greatest wine, we also have some of the greatest brewers here. From time to time we get people who come for Heater Allen, Bierly or the other breweries.

Q: And the McMinnville food scene is particularly good as well. Tell me about Red Hills Kitchen here at the hotel.

Michelle: I don’t think McMinnville gets enough attention as a food destination. Red Hills Kitchen is an independent business, but I like to think of us having a symbiotic relationship. One wouldn’t fully function without the other and that’s always fun. (Chef) Jody and Michelle Kropf offer really cool Pacific Northwest-inspired fine dining, which is appropriate for a hotel. It suits people coming in for visits and established regulars here in the community.

Q: What is your favorite McMinnville thing?

Michelle: I love the fact that if I walk from one end of Third Street to the other, I am bound to have three or four short conversations with people. I know I’d have six or seven waves or handshakes (pre-pandemic) and hundreds of smiles. I love the warmth that McMinnville radiates.

Q: And then what keeps you rooted in McMinnville?

Michelle: The relationships. The more you get to know people in McMinnville, the more opportunities are open to you. I feel like everyone here is just trying to push you to be better while you’re pushing them to be better. The sole purpose of helping people be better humans keeps me here. Absolutely.

Dan Shryock
Dan Shryock regularly writes about McMinnville and Yamhill County.