When a truck hit the sign outside Honey & Rye bakery in St. Louis Park, it mangled the word "bakehouse," which was printed on an arrow pointing to the flaky, buttery wares inside.
Owner Anne Andrus decided not to bother fixing it. If anything, the arrow just needs to turn a little to the right: the bakehouse portion of Honey & Rye has moved down the street to a new production facility that, fortunately, has a small shop attached.
That bakehouse, which opens this weekend, is only a 3-minute walk from the flagship, a happy accident. Sweets lovers get to benefit.
"The whole thing was production space, first and foremost," said Andrus. She took over a building that used to house Judith McGrann & Friends, a clothing store, with plans to turn it into a larger kitchen that could handle the output of Honey & Rye's already at-capacity wholesale orders. A classroom would be the second component.
But the city of St. Louis Park wanted this Excelsior Boulevard storefront to house a customer-focused business "so people could come in and keep walkability, which I totally get and appreciate," Andrus said. "So that presents the issue that we're here," in the new pink-and-green shop, "and here," she said, pointing out the window to the first bakery just a small strip mall away.
Operating neighboring bakeries posed a conundrum, but it turned out to be a lucky problem to have. When loyal customers rely on you for their favorites, it gets tricky for a baker to try new things.
But at bakehouse, anything goes.
The sun-streaked pastry shop's tightly curated display offers colorful new treasures. You'll find a humble cereal bar, one of Andrus' favorite things to make at home. Here, it's a doctored-up version dusted with powdered dried strawberries.
There are cake slices, which never took off at Honey & Rye when it opened a decade ago. Current flavors: carrot cake with tahini buttercream (it's a peanut-free facility), and chocolate with pistachio streusel. There's a gluten-friendly almond flour brownie and two kinds of brioche buns, one filled with strawberry pastry cream and topped with strawberry-rose glaze; the other maritozzi, Roman cream puffs filled with lemon curd or poppy seed cream.
The menu will change seasonally, and the starting lineup also includes some familiar items — with a twist. Honey & Rye's famous morning bun skips the usual sprinkling of sugar, instead wrapping delicate croissant dough around sun-dried tomato spread from Dervish Mazza. Its beloved chocolate chip cookie swaps dark chocolate chips for milk chocolate, and folds in walnuts and a hit of orange blossom.
It's daring to take your hallmarks and rewrite the recipe.
"We really are trying to fill a need for bakers to continue to be excited by the day-to-day, because it's such a repetitive thing. Like the banana bread, you have to have the same thing," Andrus said. "Everyone's first question is 'What's your signature?' and they come back for it over and over. But then you think about the people behind it."
The new shop gives her staff the opportunity to unleash their creativity, all while still turning out the classics — in a larger, more comfortable kitchen. Andrus hopes to have baking classes up and running later this year.
A corner will be devoted to retail, once a few more shelves go up. For now, there are those Dervish Mazza spreads, and grab-and-go overnight oats and chia pudding. There's no indoor seating, but some outdoor furniture is still to come.
The coffee program is another reinvention. There's no espresso machine, just drip coffee and nitro cold press (from Brooklyn Center roaster Tiny Footprint) spiked with floral and fruity syrups that are also used in housemade Italian sodas. Cafe manager Grace McKeon designed the drinks.
The creative freedom that comes with an all-new bakery "has made me even more creative somehow," McKeon said. "I'm loving it."
The whimsical new food and drink menu matches the whimsical new shop, with its clean, symmetrical lines, lots of "millennial pink" and pops of red, and a tiger logo — their tagline is "wildly delicious" — complete with colorful tiger-themed wallpaper in the bathroom. "Kind of a little bit of a Wes Anderson feel," Andrus said.
If you go
Bakehouse: Now in soft-open mode, grand opening May 6. Hours, to start, are 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Wed.-Sun. 4615 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, bakehousemn.com
Honey & Rye: The flagship bakery opens daily at 7 a.m. 4501 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 612-844-2555, honey-and-rye.com