By Andrew Edwards
MILLBROOK – March 10th will be a special day for Marty Bean, owner of the Front Porch Grill, as it will signify 18 years to the day that his restaurant opened.
To recognize the anniversary, the restaurant will host a month of specials for customers. See Specials further down.
For many area residents, walking through the front doors is like walking into their own homes. There are couples and friends who meet there almost every day.
Bean has been in the food and service industry for over 40 years. From working at grocery stores to owning his own businesses, He has been around the block a few times – and that experience has helped him garner the success he has today.
“My father helped with food rations in the Mississippi State penitentiary. When the commissioner from Mississippi moved to Alabama, he asked my father to come with him. So, that’s how we ended up here,” Bean said.
With his father’s presence in the food industry, Bean was greatly influenced by his profession – and ultimately found himself taking a similar path.
“We moved here in 1979 and I quickly started working at Winn Dixie’s in the area. Soon after, I was fortunate enough to be promoted to head of the meat departments,” Bean said.
Bean worked at grocery stores for 23 years before deciding that it would be best to move on in his professional career.
Entrepreneurship would be the next stop for Bean, as he would help co-own a restaurant named “Choo-Choo Two’s” in Montgomery.
“I had a great time working there, while it lasted – and the restaurant is long gone now,” Bean said.
After moving on from that experience, Bean contemplated for some time and decided that it would be best to own and operate his own business. This time he would do it in the town where he lived.
Thus, Front Porch Grill was born on March 10th, 2003.
“I was excited but nervous to own my own place at first. It got easier and easier at time went on, though,” Bean said. He added that a lot of assistance in the early years came from his family, including his former wife.
At first, Front Porch Grill had about 10-11 employees, but that number steadily grew throughout the years. Now, the restaurant has upwards of 30 employees.
“We have a lot of help here now and I couldn’t be more grateful for my employees. Everyone does such a great job, from the kitchen to the front of the house,” Bean said.
Bean’s wife, Jessie, has also been helping with the restaurant nearly every day since they married back in 2011.
“Jessie has been a rock for me, and such a great support system. Working with her has gone about as smoothly as you could ask for,” Bean said.
Not only have the people of Front Porch Grill changed over the years, but the building itself has as well.
“We’ve had some structural changes over the years. The meat actually used to be kept in the building next to us, but we moved that back here several years ago,” Bean said.
Some of the most notable changes the Front Porch Grill has made were done this past year, when the coronavirus shut down restaurants across the state.
“We’re extremely blessed to be where we are right now after such a difficult year. We completely shut down for a month last April to reassess where we were, and to get some remodeling done,” Bean said.
One of those changes was the creation of a to-go window on the side of the building – a change that Bean said was crucial to his businesses.
“We get 35 percent of our business from that window and to-go orders now. I knew that it was something that we needed, but I never thought it would be this successful,” Bean said.
The delicious, southern style, home-cooked meals like grandma used to make are not the only thing that keeps people going back to Front Porch Grill. It’s their hospitality, service, and connection with the community.
“I have several people that have come in here almost every morning for the last 18 years. Sometimes they get a small plate and eat it all here, and sometimes they get the big one and take the other half home,” Bean said.
Bean is so close with some of his customers that he’s even let a few of them have a key to the restaurant.
“Yeah, a few of them have a key to the place,” Bean said laughing. “They come in early in the morning, before I even come here, and turn on the ‘open sign’ and get the coffee machines up and running.”
And for a community that has given so much to Bean, he’s made sure to give back as well. He’s hosted fundraisers for the police department, fire department, and schools in the area. Most recently, he helped to donate the pre-game meals to the Marbury boys’ and girls’ basketball team for their respective playoff games.
“We love and respect the Millbrook Police and Fire Department, as well as the schools in the area. It’s really important to give back right now with pandemic going on because the schools simply don’t have the money, and there’s a lot of people hurting,” Bean said.
The Bean family’s generosity has certainly been recognized, and their restaurant has benefited greatly from it – as it still makes its mark on Millbrook 18 years later.
In celebration of their 18-year anniversary, Front Porch Grill will be having specials every week all month, which can be as follows:
March 1 -6
Single biscuit and gravy .90 each
Double biscuit and gravy $1.80
Free appetizer with 2 entree purchase
Wednesday March 10th Anniversary
$10.00 Ribeye with 2 sides
18% Discount all week long
Southwest or Monterey Chicken
The EAN would like to congratulate the Front Porch Grill on its success, and here is to many more years of that wonderful cooking and atmosphere!
You can follow the Front Porch Grill for latest updates on Facebook, or visit their website at frontporchgrill.com.