On March 1, local diner and comfort food restaurant Grinder will close its doors for the last time. It has served the University Park community for 48 years. Once its lease is up, the building will be sold and demolished to make way for a privately-owned student apartment complex, according to NBC LA.
Located on South Figueroa Street near campus, Grinder is a long-standing staple in the USC dining scene. It’s beloved by students and locals alike for breakfast food, milkshakes, and late night bites.
General Manager Salvador Ramos, who began working for the restaurant in 1982, is bittersweet about the diner’s closing.
“I consider this a family restaurant, which it has always been,” Ramos said. “It’s not one of those trendy restaurants like IHOP or Denny’s that’s all modern. Everything here with the employees and students, we try to treat everybody as family.”
Waitress Margarita Torres says she will also miss the joy of having a second family in the workplace.
“We’re gonna miss everybody,” Torres said. “We’re like family here. The customers that were regulars, they all know us by our names. It’s almost the same people. It’s been here since I was a little girl. I used to come here with my parents too.”
Torres has worked at Grinder for seven years. According to Ramos, many employees have been working at the restaurant for decades. Employee turnover at Grinder is rare due to a tight-knit community of employees and regulars.
“I’m so sad,” Torres said, “because this is where I get money from. It’s my only job, I don’t know what I’m gonna do.”
In the restaurant’s final days, business is grinding to a halt. Employees will be unemployed for the first time in years.
Next door to Grinder, student apartments at West 27th Place rent for up to $3200 a month.
“Rich people, they come in, all they think about is their business and their money. They don’t really concentrate on the human being anymore," Ramos said.