It never closed exactly, but heading into the end of last year, Grant’s Marketplace sure looked like the end was near. The drink coolers dwindled to empty, as did shelves that once held sundry items such as pastas and gourmet condiments. Those shelves were pushed against those coolers, giving the popular neighborhood market the look of a shop that had been heavily looted, and possibly fortified against the zombie apocalypse. Only the sandwich counter was left to signal customers the place remained open.
2953 Beech Street, South Park
As it turns out, Grant’s was for sale, and last month, for the second time in three years, it changed hands. The new owners have gotten to work replenishing a few of the market shelves, once again stocked with stuff like pastas and gourmet condiments. Beer and soft drinks returned to the coolers, and the likes of ready-made sandwiches and chia pudding were added to the take away inventory.
To be honest, the place looks better than it has in ten years. Once a market/restaurant hybrid that crammed shelves and merchandise into every bit of open space, the new look Grant’s operates with a greater sense of feng shui. The dining room feels more central to the experience, and there are even fuzzy coverings on the patio chairs. It now looks like a comfortable neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot that happens to be outfitted with pantry items and a well-presented wine selection framing the spacious dining room. There aren’t as many grocery items to buy, but that’s never really been Grant’s strength anyhow.
The sandwich counter is what has made Grant’s a neighborhood hub. Or should I say, food counter. Locals stop by in the morning for espresso drinks, pastries, and breakfast sandwiches. They come by to lunch on soups and deli sandwiches. Students from the nearby charter school show up with their parents after school, to nosh on cookies and drink juice. All through the day and into the evening, adults meet here to talk business, gossip, or otherwise catch up over some refreshment. Every neighborhood should have a Grant’s, and when it looked as though South Park was going to lose it, there was no shortage of anxiety and premature grief.
I’m happy to report the sandwich menu that has kept me coming back over the past ten years remains intact, with little or no changes. However, there have been a few slight changes to the food menu, with more apparently on the way.
First, the pastry case has been well stocked, with a greater variety of muffins and stuffed croissants. I’ve found cinnamon coffee cake muffins and blackberry banana in addition to the crucial blueberry. I’ve also found blueberry turnovers, along with croissants of roasted tomato and parmesan, chocolate, and bacon and pepper jack cheese. At $3.99, that big buttery pastry proved tasty as expected, and more filling.
A bigger surprise was finding enchiladas for sale. Until 2 pm at least, one may order chicken or shrimp enchilada, with either red or green sauce; each made from scratch. For $9.25, I opted for green chicken enchiladas, draped in sauce and zigzags of melted cheese, with a side of rice and black beans. It’s a far cry from my usual hot pastrami sandwich on a roll, but as long as Grant’s pledges to keep that pastrami on the menu, I can get behind the changes afoot here. The enchiladas are a great start, and the whole place feels brighter and airier now that those confusing, dark days are behind us.