Mill Cafe at HighrockMill Café at Highrock. / Highrock photo

Do December’s dark days zap your energy, requiring a caffeine boost? You’re in luck – the Mill Café, 14 Mill St. (in the Highrock Covenant Church lobby and more than a decade ago the Holovak & Coughlin Sporting Goods store), opened Thursday, Dec. 6.

Serving coffee, tea, baked goods, breakfast/lunch food and assorted snacks, this new venue provides both grab-and-go fare and a place to enjoy it at leisure in any of the café’s 120 seats. Operating hours are Thursday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The café also provides a chess board with 2-foot-high pieces, along with a corner space for kids to play, giving parents and caregivers an opportunity connect with one other, said owner Andrew Hunter. “It’s a great space for that,” Hunter said at the Monday, Dec. 4, Select Board meeting, at which the café was unanimously approved.

Asked whether Arlington has ever before had a church-sponsored restaurant, local historian Richard Duffy told YourArlington via email: "I’ve never heard of a previous one that operated on a regular basis — i.e., not part of a church fair or such. This clearly is beyond traditional activities such as pancake breakfasts and spaghetti suppers."

'Courage, curiosity and compassion'

The café aims to help create communities that “inspire courage, curiosity and compassion,” wrote Highrock Church Pastor Dave Swaim in an email to YourArlington.

Mill Cafe logo

The venue plans not only to have fare that tastes good, but also, beginning next month, to do good.

In that spirit, starting in January, the café plans to hire people with disabilities who, as Swaim writes, are “too often underestimated, underutilized and excluded from the give-and-take of true community.”

Hunter explained that the café is partnering with Arlington High School and its disability program, which seeks job placements. “This need is huge,” he said.

Furthermore, all café profits will be donated to nonprofit organizations “that do amazing work around our city and around the world,” writes Swaim. Moreover, every time customers buy something, they get a vote to decide where the profits will go, said Hunter.

At the Select Board meeting, member Len Diggins said, “I like helping to determine where the profits will go, and to employ the disabled.”

Earlier connection

The history of Highrock in Arlington has an earlier restaurant connection.

On Dec. 29, 2007, the Town Hall Restaurant served its last breakfast. The spot across from Town Hall, at 735 Mass. Ave., was among three properties bought as part of Highrock's  expansion after the church bought what had been St. Athanasius the Great Greek Orthodox Church; that congregation now meets on Appleton Street near Mass. Ave.

Watch ACMi video of Dec. 4, 2023, meeting:

Sept. 18, 2023: NEWS DISHES: Arlington Center to welcome new Indian restaurant


This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. 

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