The fires of Hell have finally made their way above ground. Taking over Angel Food Bakery’s former street-level space, Hell’s Cafeteria will offer short-order versions of the iconic restaurant’s food, plus new twists on cafeteria classics, hot mini donuts, coffee bar standards, and even tap cocktails, draft beer, and kombucha on tap. When Angel Food Bakery moved to St. Louis Park, the Hell’s Kitchen employee-owners felt they finally found a space to create a concept for continued growth. “We looked to the past for inspiration, because in our hearts, I think we all just want to be little kids again,” says company President KJ Granberg. “And what’s more nostalgic than a cafeteria? Decide what you want, and then slide your tray down the line as our apron-clad cafeteria crew quickly serves up a hot, comforting meal.” In addition to variations on Hell’s Kitchen classics such as Lemon-Ricotta Hotcakes, Mahnomin Porridge, and Caramel-Pecan Rolls, Hell’s Cafeteria will also offer daily specials with a rotating menu of special themes such as All-American Day and MN Comfort Food Day. Coffee, beer, wine and cocktails on-tap will round out the fast-service menu. Downtowners can enjoy their food to go or eat at community tables. There’s also a small retail shop where folks can snag the restaurant’s iconic peanut butter, Lemon-Ricotta Hotcake batter, Sausage Bread, and other food-centric items. Down the road, Hell’s Cafeteria will offer grab-and-go quality “TV dinners” for people on the run. Co-founder Cyn Gerdes, who turned over ownership of the restaurant to its employees in early 2020, said “just as we were mulling over long term expansion plans and finally saved enough money to make something possible, COVID turned our attention to survival. But now that the pandemic is receding, our employee owners can finally return our focus to those growth plans with this quick service cafeteria concept.” Granberg added, “The delayed dream, it turns out, turned out to be perfect, with office workers coming back downtown and demand for fast-casual fare showing no signs of slowing. We originally expected any expansion would have to take place elsewhere, but reaching into our former sister bakery’s space is absolutely ideal.” As she approaches retirement, Gerdes (who founded Creative Kidstuff in 1982, Hell’s Kitchen with her chef husband Mitch in 2002, and Angel Food Bakery with her pastry chef daughter in 2012) sees Hell’s Cafeteria as her “last hurrah.” The veteran business owner and her team have “no hesitation whatsoever” about launching a new concept in downtown Minneapolis. “During our 20 years downtown, we’ve seen the ebbs and flows, but this beautiful city has resiliency,” said Gerdes. Now that downtown’s coming back alive, our employee-owners finally can spread their wings and serve up more of what makes Minneapolis sparkle.” Hell’s Cafeteria opens Monday, March 28, at 86 South 9th Street above Hell’s Kitchen. Hours will be Monday through Friday from 7am to 2:30pm.