Brewed awakening: 934th Airlift Wing welcomes new restaurant

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Matthew Residorf
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Imagine sitting back, propped up on a comfortable couch, drinking high-quality coffee during a brisk morning at a new coffee shop and restaurant soon to open here.

According to Michael Porter, a 934th Civil Engineering Squadron technician, that future is not too far away. 

“The optimistic date for opening is April to June timeframe,” Porter said. “The new restaurant will be at the base exchange where the old Hot Plate used to be.”

Porter, an 11-year veteran of the Air Force Reserve, was tasked with clearing out all the old tables and chairs from the recently closed restaurant. His former military affiliations helped him to keep the 934th Airlift Wing on budget and save money. Instead of contracting the furniture removal and spending a lot of money, he and several 934th Force Support Squadron Airmen took care of that task.

“Knowing that I haven't been out of the military all that long and still having good relations with the troops, I was able to get some troops to help me out,” said Porter. “Instead of writing another civilian contract, we saved tens of thousands of dollars by utilizing our own internal labor.”

The Hot Plate used to serve a variety of fast-food options but was underutilized by service members on base, Porter said. The contract for the Hot Plate expired, and the owners had no interest in re-signing.

With the closing of the former restaurant came a void of a place to eat for the service members of the Minnesota-St. Paul Air Reserve Station.

“I heard that there was a need for a new restaurant on base,” Lauren Johnson, the owner of the new restaurant, said. "The service members don’t have a lot of dining opportunities that are within walking distance of lodging, so I thought that would be a great opportunity for me to fill that need.”

Johnson wanted the new restaurant to be convenient for service members, while also delivering high-end products. She decided on a café-style restaurant to satisfy this need.

“The new restaurant will hopefully have some comfortable seating options that the service members can take advantage of,” Johnson said. “Perhaps a place for people to get away and conduct meetings, or for people to sit back and do work while they drink coffee.”

The restaurant will include various options for food from soups, salads and wraps to different seasonal options such as oatmeal with blueberries. Johnson wants to sell quick and easy high-quality food that is healthy. She highlights a new ordering method that she hopes customers will take advantage of. The café that Johnson is opening will also have a variety of drinks.

“We will be offering an online medium to order from as well as an app that will expedite the process,” Johnson said. “It’s a convenient way to order when there is a time crunch.”

Johnson even has a name in mind: The Grind. The Grind will be potentially open in the early morning to the early afternoon. It will be open Monday-Friday, and on the unit training assembly weekends.

*The Grind plans on a soft-opening Monday, April 17, 2023, and a grand-opening on Monday, April 24, 2023*