4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

We didn't want the sandwiches to stop

Root beer and steak strips and onion-pepper tangles and cookies and lots of everything

Grinder: that’s “sandwich” if you speak Massachusetts
Grinder: that’s “sandwich” if you speak Massachusetts
Place

Grove Grinder

3445 Olive Street, Lemon Grove

‘Ya-hooo! Drink Mountain Dew!”

I’m in a museum here. On a side street in Lemon Grove, looking at this ancient wall ad. I like the last line, too: “It’ll tickle yore innards!”

Next to it, Ted Williams is holding a bottle of pop. “Ted Williams says ‘Make Mine Moxie.’”

Museum? Sharon Jones is showing me her personal collection of stuff from the past 130 years. “This is an ice box,” she’s telling me. “And I mean ice box. You’d put the chunk of ice in this top box, and your food stays cool in the cupboard below. Came from a customer. Said he was going to junk it if I didn’t give it a home.”

“Time to eat!” says an old neon clock sign.

Danged right. I’m hot, hungry, and here for a grinder.

The logo. And the grinders really are generous

Stopped at the stand-alone cement block place on the edge of downtown because I noticed their sandwich board outside. “Grinder. Hot cheese and steak sandwiches.” And on the window: “Cold root beer served here!”

Grinder? Whatever. Inside it’s a sandwich shop, plus it has this quaint atmosphere of dolls, antique clocks, lace, old big-lip glass milk bottles, and lots of ancient Campbell’s Soup cans.

But the thing you notice when you head for the counter is the drinks cooler. It’s filled with root beers. “We have the largest selection in San Diego County,” Sharon, the owner says. “Sixty eight different kinds of root beer. All ice-cold.”

“Guess I’ll take one root beer, and the cheese and steak sandwich,” I say.

“Oh, sure,” she says. “With everything?”

Museum piece

She points to a plastic-covered sign on the counter. “All sandwiches include oil, vinegar, cheese, lettuce & tomato, olives, onions, pepperoncinis, salt & pepper.”

I nod. Next thing, I see the two ladies behind, Elaina and Mary, set to, hands flying at the back counter.

“We never measure,” says Sharon. “We just put lots of everything. Go through a 40-pound side of beef every week.”

I turn to the drinks cabinet. Which root beer to pick? The label I like best is called “So Duh!” but I end up taking “Dang!” a butterscotch root beer from Milwaukee. Costs $1.85. Pfssst! Its crown cap comes off satisfyingly at a wall-mounted opener under an old Pepsi Cola sign.

Elaina puts a steaming plate in front of me with my cheese, steak, and onion sandwich. Costs $8, but man, there’s so much of it. Great slabs of sliced beef steak, onions, green and red bell peppers, melted pepper jack. Wicked. Though, to be honest, I should have asked for a little hot sauce like Cholula. (Later, at home, when I get into the second half, I add it. Qué sabroso!)

Beef: they go through 40 lbs of it a week

The main thing is the steak strips are totally tender and the snake pit of onions and peppers makes it all juicy and lush. Generous? Couldn’t get beyond the first half if I tried.

And, seems law enforcement comes here. Alex Amador, deputy from the county sheriff’s department has swung by for a turkey, or maybe chicken sandwich. “We all come here; fire department, too,” he says. The turkey or chicken he swears by ($5.25 for half, $7.75 for whole) is the real thing. “I don’t like processed meat,” says Sharon. “So we roast our own.”

Cheapest? Vegetarian sandwich goes for $4.75.

The place has been open since 1972. Sharon and her husband were customers, then one day 15 years ago they heard the place was for sale. “We bought it that day. We didn’t want the sandwiches to stop. We opened on April Fools’ Day, 2000.”

Her husband died ten years ago, but her son comes out from Yuma on the weekends to help out. Her granddaughter Kiki, who’s 23, has been working in here since she was 10. And two more granddaughters who are, like, 10 now, bake the chocolate-chip cookies that are hanging for sale in plastic bags at the counter. Oatmeal raisin and coconut pecan. (You get two in a bag for a dollar. The girls keep all the money.) Even with the help, Sharon is one hard-working woman. “I work 12 hours a day, seven days a week,” she says. “It keeps me going.”

Now we’re in what was the antiques place. When it closed, Sharon expanded into it. She’s showing me this Hoosier — it’s a kind of sideboard from 100 years ago that includes things like a built-in flour sifter.

I have to ask about their name.

“So, what the heck is a grinder?”

Pre-fridge: Sharon shows century-old ice box

“That’s the Massachusetts name for sandwich,” Sharon says. “Maybe because Italian ship workers over there were always grinding away at steel hulls. Or Italian rolls there had crunchy crusts you had to grind with your teeth. Who knows, really? It’s just their name for it. Like hero, hoagie, wedge.”

I order up a “Godfather” sandwich for Carla to sample back at the ranch. I look at the ingredient list. OMG, how can you fit ham, salami, pastrami, roast beef, sausage, and meatballs into one sandwich? I order a half and pay $7.50. (The whole is $10.50.) Still, it’s a monster.

Of course I coulda had so much more. Like, their chili has just picked up first prize at the Western Round-Up and Chili Cook-Off. And that sells for $3, $4, and $5, a good deal if you’re hungry and broke. They make it every Sunday. Best day to have it? Saturday, when it’s had six days to mature.

Man, I come outside into the sun feeling like I’ve been in a time-warp. A real-live mom ’n’ pop curiosity shop kinda place.

Word to cookie lovers: oatmeal raisin’s world-class, but the coconut pecan is out of this world.


Prices: The Godfather sandwich (ham, salami, pastrami, beef, sausage, meatballs), $7.50 half, $10.50 whole; bologna, $4.75, half, $7 whole; eggplant parmigiana, $5/$7.50; ham and roast beef, $5/$8; meatball, $5.50/$8; steak and cheese, $8 (8-inch roll), $12 (12-inch roll); vegetarian, $4.75/$7; all sandwiches can be prepared breadless as a salad

Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (Monday to Thursday, and Saturday); 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Sunday

Buses: 856, 936

Nearest bus stop: Main Street at Broadway

Trolley: Orange Line

Nearest Trolley Stop: Lemon Grove Depot, Lemon Grove Avenue at Broadway

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Deli Belly wasn’t supposed to be interesting

Growing East County sandwich brand brings its steamed ‘strami to La Mesa
Next Article

San Diego in books - DEA infighting, horseback adventure, William Manchester's WWII

Deep Cover, California Coast Trails, Death Bite, Goodbye Darkness
Grinder: that’s “sandwich” if you speak Massachusetts
Grinder: that’s “sandwich” if you speak Massachusetts
Place

Grove Grinder

3445 Olive Street, Lemon Grove

‘Ya-hooo! Drink Mountain Dew!”

I’m in a museum here. On a side street in Lemon Grove, looking at this ancient wall ad. I like the last line, too: “It’ll tickle yore innards!”

Next to it, Ted Williams is holding a bottle of pop. “Ted Williams says ‘Make Mine Moxie.’”

Museum? Sharon Jones is showing me her personal collection of stuff from the past 130 years. “This is an ice box,” she’s telling me. “And I mean ice box. You’d put the chunk of ice in this top box, and your food stays cool in the cupboard below. Came from a customer. Said he was going to junk it if I didn’t give it a home.”

“Time to eat!” says an old neon clock sign.

Danged right. I’m hot, hungry, and here for a grinder.

The logo. And the grinders really are generous

Stopped at the stand-alone cement block place on the edge of downtown because I noticed their sandwich board outside. “Grinder. Hot cheese and steak sandwiches.” And on the window: “Cold root beer served here!”

Grinder? Whatever. Inside it’s a sandwich shop, plus it has this quaint atmosphere of dolls, antique clocks, lace, old big-lip glass milk bottles, and lots of ancient Campbell’s Soup cans.

But the thing you notice when you head for the counter is the drinks cooler. It’s filled with root beers. “We have the largest selection in San Diego County,” Sharon, the owner says. “Sixty eight different kinds of root beer. All ice-cold.”

“Guess I’ll take one root beer, and the cheese and steak sandwich,” I say.

“Oh, sure,” she says. “With everything?”

Museum piece

She points to a plastic-covered sign on the counter. “All sandwiches include oil, vinegar, cheese, lettuce & tomato, olives, onions, pepperoncinis, salt & pepper.”

I nod. Next thing, I see the two ladies behind, Elaina and Mary, set to, hands flying at the back counter.

“We never measure,” says Sharon. “We just put lots of everything. Go through a 40-pound side of beef every week.”

I turn to the drinks cabinet. Which root beer to pick? The label I like best is called “So Duh!” but I end up taking “Dang!” a butterscotch root beer from Milwaukee. Costs $1.85. Pfssst! Its crown cap comes off satisfyingly at a wall-mounted opener under an old Pepsi Cola sign.

Elaina puts a steaming plate in front of me with my cheese, steak, and onion sandwich. Costs $8, but man, there’s so much of it. Great slabs of sliced beef steak, onions, green and red bell peppers, melted pepper jack. Wicked. Though, to be honest, I should have asked for a little hot sauce like Cholula. (Later, at home, when I get into the second half, I add it. Qué sabroso!)

Beef: they go through 40 lbs of it a week

The main thing is the steak strips are totally tender and the snake pit of onions and peppers makes it all juicy and lush. Generous? Couldn’t get beyond the first half if I tried.

And, seems law enforcement comes here. Alex Amador, deputy from the county sheriff’s department has swung by for a turkey, or maybe chicken sandwich. “We all come here; fire department, too,” he says. The turkey or chicken he swears by ($5.25 for half, $7.75 for whole) is the real thing. “I don’t like processed meat,” says Sharon. “So we roast our own.”

Cheapest? Vegetarian sandwich goes for $4.75.

The place has been open since 1972. Sharon and her husband were customers, then one day 15 years ago they heard the place was for sale. “We bought it that day. We didn’t want the sandwiches to stop. We opened on April Fools’ Day, 2000.”

Her husband died ten years ago, but her son comes out from Yuma on the weekends to help out. Her granddaughter Kiki, who’s 23, has been working in here since she was 10. And two more granddaughters who are, like, 10 now, bake the chocolate-chip cookies that are hanging for sale in plastic bags at the counter. Oatmeal raisin and coconut pecan. (You get two in a bag for a dollar. The girls keep all the money.) Even with the help, Sharon is one hard-working woman. “I work 12 hours a day, seven days a week,” she says. “It keeps me going.”

Now we’re in what was the antiques place. When it closed, Sharon expanded into it. She’s showing me this Hoosier — it’s a kind of sideboard from 100 years ago that includes things like a built-in flour sifter.

I have to ask about their name.

“So, what the heck is a grinder?”

Pre-fridge: Sharon shows century-old ice box

“That’s the Massachusetts name for sandwich,” Sharon says. “Maybe because Italian ship workers over there were always grinding away at steel hulls. Or Italian rolls there had crunchy crusts you had to grind with your teeth. Who knows, really? It’s just their name for it. Like hero, hoagie, wedge.”

I order up a “Godfather” sandwich for Carla to sample back at the ranch. I look at the ingredient list. OMG, how can you fit ham, salami, pastrami, roast beef, sausage, and meatballs into one sandwich? I order a half and pay $7.50. (The whole is $10.50.) Still, it’s a monster.

Of course I coulda had so much more. Like, their chili has just picked up first prize at the Western Round-Up and Chili Cook-Off. And that sells for $3, $4, and $5, a good deal if you’re hungry and broke. They make it every Sunday. Best day to have it? Saturday, when it’s had six days to mature.

Man, I come outside into the sun feeling like I’ve been in a time-warp. A real-live mom ’n’ pop curiosity shop kinda place.

Word to cookie lovers: oatmeal raisin’s world-class, but the coconut pecan is out of this world.


Prices: The Godfather sandwich (ham, salami, pastrami, beef, sausage, meatballs), $7.50 half, $10.50 whole; bologna, $4.75, half, $7 whole; eggplant parmigiana, $5/$7.50; ham and roast beef, $5/$8; meatball, $5.50/$8; steak and cheese, $8 (8-inch roll), $12 (12-inch roll); vegetarian, $4.75/$7; all sandwiches can be prepared breadless as a salad

Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (Monday to Thursday, and Saturday); 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Sunday

Buses: 856, 936

Nearest bus stop: Main Street at Broadway

Trolley: Orange Line

Nearest Trolley Stop: Lemon Grove Depot, Lemon Grove Avenue at Broadway

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Deli Belly wasn’t supposed to be interesting

Growing East County sandwich brand brings its steamed ‘strami to La Mesa
Next Article

Coffee shop sermon

I’ve had some in-depth conversations about theology, culture and scripture.
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close