Two siblings are bringing a sugar and caffeine rush to a culinary stretch of St. Paul’s Grand Av.
Sweet breakfast cereals, soft serve ice cream and boba (aka bubble tea) are on the menu at Treats Cereal Bar & Boba (770 Grand Av., St. Paul, treatsmn.com), which opened June 15.
The idea came from travels to both the East and West Coasts, where the siblings — Trisha Seng, 31, and Minh Dinh, 29 — would stop in to “cereal bars,” places that sell bowls of cereal and milk.
Seng, meanwhile, is a “boba addict,” she said.
So, they decided to pair the two, adding in a third element: ice cream.
They tracked down a special machine that grinds cereal pieces into a powder and infuses them right into the ice cream swirls.
“Every bite just registers childhood,” Dinh said. “It’s a nostalgic bite.”
The siblings initially came to the food business reluctantly.
The two youngest of 11, their parents once owned a Vietnamese restaurant on University Av.
“We didn’t want to go into the restaurant business,” Seng said.
“Everyone saw how hard our parents worked,” Dinh said.
But the cereal angle was novel enough — at least in Minnesota — to convince them to take a chance. And, as important, “It’s not a hot kitchen,” Dinh said.
The cereal bar has 15 flavors to choose from, and sundaes and shakes can incorporate up to three each. Seng and Dinh hope to add more cereals to the lineup by fall.
One purple sundae, called the Berry Kiss, has Fruity Pebbles, Froot Loops and Trix, along with berries. The Super Crunch Brothers incorporates Cap’n Crunch, Rice Krispies Treats cereal and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Thanks to that cereal-crushing machine, every spoonful has a finely gritty texture, and a flavor that evokes breakfast during Saturday morning cartoons.
On the boba side, there are fruit teas, milk teas and ceremonial-grade matcha, with chewy tapioca bubbles at the bottom. Some teas are sold in bottles to go.
Though Treats isn’t beholden to only one cereal brand, Seng and Dinh say they got approval from General Mills to adorn one wall of their shop with a mural featuring that company’s famous cereal characters: the Honey Nut Cheerios bee, the Lucky Charms leprechaun and the Cocoa Puffs bird.
On the opposite side of the room is the all-important Instagram wall, white-tiled, neon-lit, the perfect backdrop for colorful cereal creations already lighting up social media. The look of Treats’ treats is important to the co-owners, but so is the taste.
“We work hard not only that the product is Instagrammable, but we want to make sure that everything tastes good,” Seng said. “We don’t just want a one-time customer.”