For $1.99 and a smile, Grant's Coffee Room serves coffee and a croissant.
I thought the two-dollar cup of coffee had become a relic of another time, like the handshake, or sushi burritos. I still come across a $2.75 cup on occasion, but for the most part, coffee shops sell it for three bucks and up. Or so I thought 'til I turned a corner in South Park, and there it was, a new morning special. For a buck-ninety-nine you get a cup of joe, plus a hot croissant. Truly. In the year 2020.
2953 Beech Street, San Diego
It’s called the “Coffee, Croissant and a Smile special,” which runs from 8 am-10 am daily. The customer is supposed to offer the smile, but since I was wearing a mask, I got away with a half-smirk.
Welcome to Grant’s Coffee Room, formerly known — for many years — as Grant’s Market. Technically, the neighborhood market has been a coffee shop of sorts for all of its roughly 18 years in business. It served brewed coffee every morning, and offered all sorts of espresso drinks, and even latte art.
But, it also played the role of deli, gourmet market, convenience store, and bottle shop. Now its owners, who bought the shop back in 2019, have re-branded the place to reaffirm its status as a neighborhood hub, You may still order sandwiches at Grant’s Coffee Room, and there are still bottles of beer, wine, and hard kombucha in the cooler, and it’s still a solid place to hang out in the evening to chat over a bottle of beer or wine.
The coffee shop formerly known as Grant's Market
But otherwise, Grant’s has made the transition into a 1990s-style coffeeshop, complete with upholstered seating, eclectic décor, and customers typing away on their laptops. It has even taken roasting coffee beans into its own hands, procuring a fridge-sized techno roaster, which roasts automatically with the help of an iPad. Which helps reduce costs to make that cheap coffee possible.
As for the cheap croissant — let’s just say you get what you pay for. Still, you can’t knock this good a deal, especially when it includes sidewalk seating along a quaint block in South Park. That was always been part of the lure at Grant’s Market; its sidewalks were typically bustling with meeting friends, parents and their children, or folks like me with their dogs.
The old market shelves are gone, replaced with comfortable coffee shop furniture.
In that regard, little has changed with the conversion to Grant’s Coffee Room. People and their friends and their pets are still hangin’ outside, where there’s now additional seating thanks to a covid era parking space patio.
As for the food menu, South Park long timers will be glad to know plenty of the familiar Grant’s sandwiches remain on deck, such as the Californian (turkey, bacon, provolone, and avocado) and the Smokin’ Joe (roast beef, gouda, and BBQ sauce). But there are new options too, including a weekend brunch menu featuring challah French toast and a Reuben eggs benedict (hollandaise over corned beef and sauerkraut on rye).
Avocado smash has been replaced with avo toast.
Personally, I lament only one key change to the menu long ago established by original owner Joe Grant. The old rosemary avocado smash, named long before avocado toast became a thing, has been replaced by Avo EVOO Toast ($8.99). So instead of avocado spread over olive and rosemary bread dressed with olive oil, basil, and sea salt (and optional tomato), the new menu item describes an avocado smash made with olive oil, sea salt, and chili flakes on a ciabatta roll. Which doesn’t sound bad at all. Considering mine unexpectedly showed up with loads of tomatoes, arugula, and cotija cheese, it looked even better. Call me cranky, but I liked this avocado toast better the way it was before.
However, following what has been several years of changing ownership and mixed purposes, the new-look coffee chop version of Grant’s is on the whole a change for the better.