After being part of the South Los Angeles landscape for nearly 50 years, the Grinder diner will serve food for the last time Sunday.
Grinder restaurants have been in Southern California since 1968, with the family-owned chain having more than 20 locations at its peak. The last of its sites, in the University Park neighborhood, has been in business since 1972.
Customers said they are reeling from the news that their favorite diner is closing its doors for good.
"It's the passing of an era," said Dan McGovern, a Grinder customer. "It's sad, because there’s not a lot of restaurants like that."
At Grinder, comfort food is served in a red vinyl booth by long-time employees, who customers said can feel like family.
"When I walked in and saw the sign, I was devastated," said customer Andrew Loccisaio. "Food establishments like this are few and far between these days, and so to lose something like this in this area, it’s pretty tough."
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The feeling is shared, according to Salvador Ramos, a Grinder general manager who has worked at three of its diners since 1982. He said that it has been tough saying goodbye to long-time customers.
"We've had some that have actually started crying. They’ve been here since they were 6, 7 years old. Their parents brought them here," he said. "It’s sad."
Ramos said a developer bought the restaurant property and the one next door, where there’s currently a Taco Bell. The land will soon hold apartments, like the new complex adjacent to it.
Property was bought from Figueroa Street all the way to Flower Street, he said.
Loccisaio believes that while it’s good to build apartments, this may be the wrong way to go about it.
"I think LA does need more housing, but I don’t know if this is going to be the affordable housing solution that LA needs," he said.
What the employees will need are new jobs – something they haven’t had to find for decades.
"The youngest one has been here for 29 years," Ramos said.
Fortunately, some long-time customers have said they will help these employees find work, as they were only given two weeks’ notice.
Grinder’s last day will last from 6 a.m. on Sunday until midnight.