After a rough and seemingly endless spell of light-rail construction, which pushed dozens of restaurants, markets and other food-related businesses to the economic brink, it's great to see a restaurant opening on University Avenue in St. Paul.
Get ready to say hello to the Daily Diner Frogtown. When the doors open on April 15, the restaurant, which anchors the busy corner of Dale and University in the Frogtown Square project (pictured, above, in an image by Brad Person Photography), will serve breakfast and lunch daily, and dinner Monday through Saturday.
Chef Jason Koehn, a 20-year Champps Americana vet, is promising a menu of all-American favorites, with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and cooking traditions culled from what has to be one of the Twin Cities' most culturally diverse neighborhoods.
But this isn't your garden-variety restaurant-opening story. Along with feeding the neighborhood, the Daily Diner will also serve as an on-the-job-training and career-skills outreach project of the 111-year-old United Gospel Mission.
"To fully address the needs of homeless and struggling people in our community, we must overcome the obstacles that prevent people from being hired and keeping a job," said Mission executive director Ken Peterson in a statement. "The key to permanency in a chaged live is self-sufficiency. The extensive professional career training offered for Mission graduates at the Daily Diner provides that career bedrock."
The Mission hopes to initially train 25 to 30 people a year at the restaurant, preparing them for outside work in the hospitality industry. What a marvelous reason to make a habit of hash browns and eggs Benedict.