By all indications, it would appear that Twin Citians are living in a vegan golden age.
Think about it. There was last year’s debut of the runaway success story that is the Herbivorous Butcher. Then there’s last month’s opening of J. Selby’s in St. Paul, a “plant-based” restaurant that was so flattened by its enthusiastic opening weekend response that it had to close for a few days to regroup (it’s back open).
Now comes the news that Colin Anderson, the entrepreneur who launched the Twin Cities’ first vegan croissant pop-up in April, has already landed a brick-and-mortar home for his Eureka Compass Vegan Food. Even better: he’s not limited himself to dairy-free laminated dough pastries.
After receiving a warm welcome at his pop-up last month, Anderson’s original plan was to start slow by tapping the kitchen of a St. Paul pizzeria during its otherwise dormant nights.
But in the interim, opportunity knocked: Eden Pizza quietly went out of business. Now Anderson plans to use the space — located at 629 Aldine St. in St. Paul’s Hamline-Midway neighborhood -- for a series of vegan-focused dining options. He already has plenty of plans for his one-man, 12-seat show.
“I’m really inspired by Japanese sushi counters, where there’s one chef behind the counter, and he’s doing all the food preparation, and talking to the guests,” said Anderson. “That’s what I’m looking to do here.”
In the mornings, the place will operate as a bakery counter, showcasing his vegan croissants, along with scones, muffins and other baked goodies. A limited-menu lunch could include a pair of entrees and a pair of salads.
“It’ll be a constantly rotating menu,” he said. “I’ll be looking at what’s available, and what looks good at the farmers market.”
Monday and Tuesday dinners are another component of the plan. Anderson will use a ticketed model to sell prepaid reservations for a $40, five-course, family-style suppers.
“The first will focus on that lowly but mighty staple of the world, rice,” he said. “It might include spring rolls with rice noodles, or a roasted biryani, or a simple tapioca rice pudding, or different pilafs, maybe using Minnesota wild rice, even though, yes, it’s a grass.” (He's just posted tickets for the first two dinners, on Monday, June 19 and Tuesday, June 20).
The point is, it’s an evolving business model. “There’s a pizza oven there, so I’ll probably be doing pizza at some point,” he said. “Maybe something like, ‘Hey, it’s Friday, stop by for a classic New York slice, and a soda, for five bucks.”
To demonstrate his butter-free baking prowess, Anderson is offering a two-day pop-up at his new place that will focus on pain au chocolat and croissants filled with raspberry preserves and cashew-based cream cheese, at $4 a pop (they're pictured, top). “Hot, right out of the oven,” said Anderson. He’s got two dates lined up: 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday, May 26, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 27.
Meanwhile, if all goes as planned — including a Kickstarter campaign with a $25,000 goal — Anderson hopes to have the facility up and running by mid-June.