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On the roast 

BY MAEVA CONSIDINE

General Manager Grace Miller is insanely busy. Opening Sal’s Sandwiches & Beer means Miller will be at the helm of three restaurants in downtown SLO. Still, as a new employee concludes her first shift at Sal’s, Miller makes sure to stop to give her a high-five.

“How did you feel about today? You feel good about everything? You did great,”
she says.

Sal’s is a shift from owner James Whitaker’s other two locations, Side Car
and Kreuzberg.

“We really want to cater to that 30-minute lunch crowd,” Miller said. “We put our order form online, and people can pay by credit card there.”

The two conceived the idea for a third business during a casual, brainstorming session.

“Grace and I sort of said half-heartedly, ‘A sandwich shop? That would be fun.’ But then this space became available, so it was good timing,” Whitaker explained.

Sal’s offers that mellow vibe patrons have come to love Kreuzberg for. The restaurant, named for the protagonist of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, is the perfect showcase for Whitaker’s growing success in San Luis Obispo.

“It’s not us against other local sandwich places,” Whitaker explained. “We see it as us against these large chains that move into the downtown area. We’re all about SLO town local. We want to support that local growth.”

And Sal’s certainly embodies that local feel. Miller’s 16-year-old brother, Sam, was responsible for the impressive stencil mural on the right wall of the restaurant.

Miller says people can expect all three restaurants to offer something unique, with small touches of continuity.

“Eventually we want the Kreuzberg Blonde beer in all three restaurants,” she said, “and with Sal’s being named after a Kerouac character, we have that literary tie, too.”

Miller put together the simultaneously delicious and hilarious sandwich menu with the help of her taste buds. Miller says she gets inspiration from great sandwiches she’s stumbled upon during her travels.

Her favorite, The Ex-Girlfriend, is a sandwich that can be universally understood.

“It’s got mozzarella sticks, chicken, and bacon. Like an ex-girlfriend, you know it’s bad for you, but sometimes you just keep crawling back to it,” Miller explained.

Sal’s also has beer on tap, and Miller hopes to soon have four options available for patrons. “We want to avoid that lunchtime-place feel,” she explained. “We want everyone to feel really comfortable here.”

Sal’s menu is sure to help Miller’s aspirations gain momentum. With sandwiches like The Ugly Sweater and The Tipsy Winetaster to choose from, you can’t help but feel like you’re in the presence of Chris Farley-level comic genius.

The menu also caters to those who want to have a good time, but avoid any meat tendencies.

“I’m a carnivore through and through,” Miller said, “but I also consider myself a vegetarian-sympathizer. We have some great vegan and vegetarian options here, too.”

Sal’s success is already evident, but Miller said that hasn’t gone to anyone’s head.

“We like to tell people: Look, we’re still new. We encourage people to give us suggestions,” she said.

Sal’s is at 1028 Chorro St. in downtown San Luis Obispo. The shop’s sandwich order form is available at slosals.com.

Fast fact

San Luis Obispo County public libraries are again celebrating National Library Week by helping to fight hunger in our community. Food 4 Fines week takes place April 10 to 14 at all San Luis Obispo County Public Library branches. Each branch will accept one non-perishable food item in place of any overdue fine or hold fee that totals $1 or less. Food items will be donated to the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County. Food donation bins will be set up at each library branch. The Food Bank’s wish list includes canned or dry soup, canned vegetables and fruits, tuna and other canned meats, peanut butter, pasta, rice, beans, cereal, and disposable diapers.

Contributing writer Maeva Considine compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your nonprofit and business news to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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