With their piled-high, boldly flavored East Coast Italian subs, Shoreline's Grinders Hot Sands has been a Shoreline institution since owner Mitch Gilbert set up shop with his mom and aunt in 2004. Sunset Magazine has distinguished it one of their top 93 road food stops on the West Coast and Eater has named it one of Seattle's most iconic sandwich spots. Starting sometime in May, the "hot sands" eatery will now enter a new era when Gilbert hands over the reigns to Chris Dalton (Beth's Café, Duck Island Ale House).
Both parties are enthusiastic about the takeover, and what they view as forward vision for the Grinders brand. Not only is Dalton already well acquainted with Grinders' generous portion sizes ("I think we [Grinders and Beth's] are two of the biggest users of to-go boxes in the city," Dalton jokes), but he's been coming to Grinders for a decade, believes in the concept, and wants to maintain it. He will also bring in Jackie Olson, his bar manager at Duck Island, as a partner, who will expand the restaurant's wine and beer lists.
"Mitch's recipes are from his mom, so I've got a lot to learn," Dalton says. He's excited for the opportunity to explore this new type of cuisine, though, and his first priority is mastering the empire that Gilbert built. The two both believe there are four factors that make the Grinders' brand: scratch cuisine with bold East Coast Italian flavor profiles made from family recipes; excellent customer service; a friendly, familial vibe; and live music (often blues) a few weekends a month. After remaining on hand to help Dalton and Olson throughout May, Gilbert will continue to use his contacts to book Grinders' musical acts.
Once Dalton and Olson are settled, they aim to increase local awareness of Grinders and its delicious, scratch-made food. (Per its menu: "Homemade meatballs! No, really. Homemade meatballs. Shut up and listen to what you just read! Meatballs so tender you don't need your teeth to chew 'em. Dem' balls are nestled into an Italian roll topped off with melted mozzarella, caramelized onions, and our not-from-a-can marinara.")
They also plan to consider new menu items (cold sandwiches and pasta, which the shop has done successfully in the past), build up dinner service, and potentially look at other locations eventually. And bonus, for those of us who want room left for bread pudding or cheesecake: They are officially considering half sandwich portions.