The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School




The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School



A Local Asset: The Giant Grinder Donates and Creates During COVID


  This is part of an ongoing series promoting local businesses through feature articles concurrent with Instagram giveaways. To check out the giveaways, visit @slohsexpressions on Instagram. For more information, or if your business is interested in participating, contact [email protected]

Contact the Giant Grinder at (805)543-6700 for phone ordering or on their website,, for online ordering.

  You’ve probably passed this small brick building on Broad street. A caricature outside of a man riding an old-fashioned bicycle playfully adorns its side. A small black overhang with the image of a delicious sub shelters the entrance. The words “The Giant Grinder Shop” hang boldly in block print over the modest white screen door. The deli is reminiscent of your grandma’s kitchen, a small-town market, and a secret local spot, all rolled into one. 

  The Broad Street Giant Grinder Shop is currently open and serving delicious New England-style grinder sandwiches: 9 or 18 inches long, with local veggies and cured meats. Take-out or delivery is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, or 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. 

  The current owners, Libby Waterbury and Marty Budinger, are adapting their restaurant to the crisis and their menu to Central Coast tastes. Expressions sat down to talk to the Grinder about their current experiences. 

  A week into the pandemic, the Giant Grinder started Share the Love in SLO–a program using $8 donations from the community to produce sandwiches for front-line workers.

  “We had gotten the idea from Boost nutrition… and we thought, well, why can’t we do it with sandwiches? Sandwiches on our menu are $10-$12, but for Share the Love they’re only $8–we’ve been covering the rest as a contribution to make it as easy as possible for people to chip in. [It’s been] a really big help for us mentally to have that support from the community,” Libby remarked on the success of the program. So far, they’ve donated over 250 sandwiches to firemen and healthcare workers.

  Even before the pandemic, the Giant Grinder’s connections with SLO ran deep–they buy local, helping support local farmers and fellow businesses. 

  “Pretty much all of our produce is local–avocados, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers. We order from local companies, and get our bread from Edna bakery and another local bakery… When we got the soda fountain installed,[we used] a plumber that lives on Sandercock. When getting flooring, we used a place on High street. We’re making sure that as a community, we’re trying to rally around each other,” said Libby. 

  While sticking true to the shop’s East Coast roots, Waterbury has developed variations on Giant Grinder classics closer to Central Coast tastes.

  “I’m actually working right now on developing more vegetarian and vegan options. We certainly have a lot of salads and wraps as well. I was able to get a sample of Impossible meat to try and make our meatball sandwich, but make it meat-free.”

  Waterbury also plans on integrating a sandwich tenet that immediately transforms any sandwich into a California classic: “Adding avocado.” She laughs and adds, “We just added a turkey bacon avocado, and it’s been really popular.”

  Although the pandemic has affected the shop’s supply chain in part–they’ve had to find another bakery to supplement their bread supply–the Giant Grinder has nothing but gratitude for their situation. 

  “We’re grateful to be the type of business to stay open right now and still have customers, so if we’re not making a profit for a couple months, we’re OK with that, because we know we’re going to be here for a long time.” Libby adds, “There’s an amazing community in SLO, and it’s been a lot of finding who we can support and who will support us. It’s been a steep learning curve, but at the same time gratitude is something I’ve been emphasizing a lot. People are still coming in with a smile on their face and tipping well.”

  Through her positive attitude, determination to help her community, and genuine connection with her customers, Libby has cemented the Giant Grinder’s place in SLO. The restaurant’s long-held values, cozy appearance, and consistent quality are all representative of their long-term commitment to serving their regular customers and the larger San Luis Obispo community. 

Donate to Share the Love in SLO through PayPal ([email protected]), credit card (call-in or walk-in), or Venmo (@giantgrinderslo). An $8 donation will donate a 9” sandwich to SLO Front Line Staff. 


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  • L

    Lulu DaiMay 11, 2020 at 10:18 am

    I love that they’re trying to keep everything as local as possible! SLO businesses are so kind ♡︎

  • K

    Kathryn ZagRodnyMay 11, 2020 at 9:37 am

    great article! can’t wait to win my free sandwiches!!!