Now that their first restaurant—Rock Elm Tavern in Plymouth—is well established, co-owners and longtime local friends Troy Reding and Brad Sorenson are soaring into new territories.
In mid-January, they opened Holman’s Table under their company Ally Restaurants in the historic terminal at the St. Paul Downtown Airport. They were just in time to feed celebrities, executives and NFL Owners that jetted in for the Super Bowl, as well as all the behind-the-scenes aviation workers.
“The Super Bowl gave us a direct line to people looking for a unique experience, and we couldn’t have been happier with how the weekend turned out, unless of course we were celebrating a Vikings win,” Reding says. “The nostalgia and stories have made a truly special experience unmatched in our previous ventures.”
A second Rock Elm is also slated to open this summer in Maple Grove.
Holman’s Table is the first full-service restaurant to occupy space at the airport in nearly 20 years. Past flooding issues were alleviated with a removable flood wall system. “We’re excited to help breathe some life back into the building,” Reding says.
When Reding and Sorenson met at church more than twenty years ago, it was inevitable they’d become good buds and eventual business partners. They have similar values and priorities. Their wives and kids get along. They’re both avid sports fans. And they share a penchant for fine food and spirits. “I can easily say Troy is my best friend,” Sorenson says. “He’s one of those guys who will literally give you the shirt off his back.”
While playing cards and during family vacations together, the two dabbled with the idea of opening restaurants for many years. In 2014, Reding decided it was time to turn his more than 30 years of bar and restaurant experience, 24 of them as TGI Friday’s director of Midwest operations, into a venture of his own. “I turned 50 years old, my youngest child graduated from high school and I knew I could be successful in the hospitality business.”
Naturally, he reached out to Sorenson, who replied: “Let’s do it!”
Reding handles most of the development and operations of Ally Restaurants. Sorenson—who still maintains a full time job at Boston Scientific as senior vice president of manufacturing and supply chain—brings financial investment, negotiating savvy and menu ideas from his extensive business travel. In August, they added on director of operations Liz Bergquist, who now manages restaurant logistics and staffing, allowing Reding and Sorenson more time to focus on future expansion.
In addition to opening restaurants, the initial plan when they first formed their company was to also offer consulting services. “We have not had time to devote to [consulting] specifically since the successful opening of Rock Elm Tavern and now Holman’s Table,” Reding says. “But we are always available in creating relationships and helping others be successful.”
When asked what he enjoys about opening restaurants, Reding says “It’s the adrenaline of everything is new, making our own decisions of what the place is going to feel like and the ability to impact the communities we’re in.”
A Closer Look at Holman’s Table
When you walk into the Holman’s Table—named after the late stunt pilot Charles W. “Speed” Holman—you’re in for a memorable experience.
Mindful of the airport’s early 20th Century character, the restaurant welcomes you into a warm, but sophisticated ambience with antique brass finishes, pale pink walls, ostrich print chairs, exposed industrial ceilings, Terrazzo floors buffed to their original luster and elevated booths that look out onto the runway.
With ample free parking, diverse menus and the Mississippi River and airfields as its backdrop, Holman’s Table strives to cater not only to on-the-fly guests and downtown business clientele during the work week, but also to couples and families in the evening and on weekends.
During warmer months, customers can enjoy a meal on the a large patio practically near the tarmac while watching corporate jets pull up to the terminal building.
The New American menu showcases fresh ingredients, refined techniques and bold flavors. “This is really a chance for our chef to spread his wings a little with a menu that’s a bit more upscale,” says Sorenson.
Breakfast and lunch offer clean and light options, such as Grapefruit Brulee and Organic Farro Salad. Dinner boasts hearty and adventurous plates like Wild Boar Pappardelle and Fruits de Mer, and favorites including burgers and pastas.
Classic cocktails, blended from house-made syrups and vermouths are the focal point of the drink menu. Customers will also enjoy Minnesota craft beers and “beautiful wines that will give people a taste of the world without leaving Minneapolis and St. Paul,” says Bergquist.