About us

About us


A Bright Beginning

Smith & Porter Restaurant + Bar is located at 428 South 2nd Street in the new Abiitan Mill City building, located in Downtown Minneapolis’ Mill City District. The restaurant and café are only steps from the Stone Arch Bridge, Gold Medal Park, the only natural waterfall on the Mississippi River, and other local attractions, such as:

Kai Phanthavong is Executive Chef at Smith & Porter. Phanthavong started his culinary career as a server in his family run restaurant, Pad Thai, on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul and graduated from Le Cordon Blu in 2004. While interning at Zander Café, he quickly became Chef de Cuisine. Phanthavong has since built a robust culinary background, with leadership experience at establishments such as Duplex, Kungnam Resort in Thailand, Masu Sushi & Robata, Tiny Diner, and most recently Libertine.

Blue J BallardBlue J Ballard is the General Manager of Smith & Porter. He has been in the restaurant industry for 24 years, and has worked in every facet. Passion in what he does is something that has always been impressed on him, and being able to work with passionate people is what draws Blue to the industry. His personal passion is bringing an experience to guests, and guiding them through a well-prepared, knowledgeable, and comfortable experience.

Blue is the lucky father of a great, smart, and funny young lady, Lola. They try to get out and do as many activities as possible, and they also have a bit of a Lego obsession. When he is not erecting Lego monstrosities with Lola, he likes to travel.

John Gleason is Food & Beverage Director at Smith & Porter and Abiitan Mill City. Gleason brings an extensive and diverse background in hospitality, leadership and management. Most recently, he brought Giordano’s Pizza to the Twin Cities, opening three locations in Chicago and Uptown Minneapolis as the General Manager. The impact of food and drink on people’s lives, both normal day occurrences as well as significant life events, resonates with Gleason’s mission to provide excellent experiences to every guest, every day.