Ready to serve: Heather Holmen takes over ownership of Grinder’s Deli

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Heather Holmen is used to the pressure of serving food.

She has worked in the Spam Truck for a number of summers with former owner Tim Duren at the Minnesota State Fair, something she thrived at. Now that enthusiasm for food is transferring over to Grinder’s Deli.

Holmen took over ownership from Tom and Penny Klapperich on Jan. 1, and while she has jumped into running an Austin staple with both feet, it wasn’t something she planned.

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“It really came out of the blue,” said Holmen, who prior to this worked at Pacelli Catholic Schools. “I never would have left the school in the middle of the school year other than this came up.”

Prior to this, Holmen had already purchased the Spam Truck from Duren, who owned the food truck for 15 years and was looking to retire. She took that over last March.

“I just love the adrenaline of the state fair,” Holmen said, looking back to her prior experiences. “It is so much fun.”

Heather Holmen and her daughter Madi Rysavy, left, work on getting a meal ready for a customer at Grinder’s Deli. Eric Johnson/

She was looking forward to keeping that excitement going  and wasn’t necessarily looking for another opportunity until Tom Klapperich brought the idea to her.

“He said to me one day, ‘would you ever want to buy Grinder’s if it was available?’” Holmen said, adding that she would give the idea some thought. “Six months later he calls me, ‘just curious if you are interested.’”

In particular, the Klapperichs were looking for somebody who will keep the style of the place familiar — same sandwiches, same recipes.

It was also an establishment that Holmen was familiar with.

“I live right here in the neighborhood and I’m so attached to Pacelli,” she said. “And I get to see the kids all the time and do a lot of catering for them.”

Holmen said she is staying true to the history of Grinders, keeping the original menu intact with no plans to change anything, recognizing a community that loves the original recipes and offerings.

However, that doesn’t mean that the idea of adding to the menu is off the table. Holmen said she is examining the idea of a schedule that includes opening at night as well as Saturday on the weekends in addition to the daily opening hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., though nothing has been determined quite yet.

She’s also examining the idea of adding soups as well as more variety to sides including possibly items such as cottage cheese and fruit cups.

“It’s the people. Getting the friendly faces that come in every day and we know what they want to eat,” said Holmen, who gets help from her daughter Madi Rysavy. “All the community’s support, who have been around for me lately — it’s been awesome. They just keep coming in and supporting me. Food brings people together.”

It’s been that public reaction to the ownership that has bolstered Holmen, especially as people continue coming in, including new visitors to Grinder’s

“I just like to be super busy,” she said, adding: “Almost every day we get someone who has never been here who has Googled us. Who is from out of town and passing through. We want to keep that small town charm.”

Best of all, it’s been hopping.

“It’s been good. Busy, steady,” Holmen said. “Some days it’s like, how are we going to keep up. It’s coming along, we’re finding our way and what’s worked for us.”

Be sure to follow Grinder’s Deli on Facebook at

Holmen is also asking for the public’s help. Along the walls of Grinder’s she has mounted several photos, some with identifications on them. If you are by chance swinging in to get some lunch and recognize one of the unidentified pictures on the wall, Holmen would like to know so she can share the history.