Photo by Hannah Davis

The Grillium, which took over the Forest Lake Meet Market location, opened under its new name in November.

The Meet Market is no more, and now it’s The Grillium.

Russ Rafi, of Vadnais Heights, purchased the bar and sandwich shop located on Broadway Avenue in June. Rafi said per the contract he worked out with the Meet Market, he operated the restaurant under the Meet Market name until November, at which point he was allowed to change the name.

“It’s just something catchy,” Rafi said of “The Grillium.”

Rafi, who moved to Minnesota in 2002, has experience with chain restaurants and catering services but was ready for a change, so when he saw the Meet Market’s listing, he jumped at the chance.

“I’ve worked for chain restaurants for a long time, and I wanted to do something different,” Rafi said.

As for the menu, some updates include the addition of pasta and Hispanic dishes, as well as fish, including both breaded and pan-seared walleye. He also has added what he calls an “all-day, every day happy hour,” with drink prices reduced from what they were when the business was operating as The Meet Market.

“We want you to come in at any time,” Rafi said.

Some top-selling menu items from the Meet Market will likely stay, like the pulled pork, Guerrero and Cuban sandwiches, and the wings.

“We’re known for the wings,” Rafi said.

While the menu isn’t set yet, Rafi plans to launch the new menu and host a grand opening sometime mid-December.

“I’m really excited [to be here],” Rafi said. “I think this area needs something a little more diverse. We’ll still keep the counter service, get some good food, bigger portions, and pass that on to our guests. That’s my main goal.”

Rafi’s purchase of The Grillium also marked the end of an era for Forest Lake and its relationship with a group of restaurateurs known as the DC Restaurant Group. At the height of its local engagement, the group, formerly known as the Acqua Restaurant Group, owned and operated the Forest Lake Acqua, Pi Pizzeria, Meet Market and The Grill at Forest Hills locations. Pi, The Grill and Acqua all closed in 2018; Acqua has since been replaced by 3rd Gear Restaurant and Bar, the brainchild of Eric Ernst, another local restaurateur.

Hannah Davis is the Area Editor at the Forest Lake Times. You can contact her at or (763)233-0709

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