After 11 years of creating some of the city’s most memorable sweets and breads, the Salty Tart is leaving Minneapolis. Today.
“It’s a lot of things,” said chef/owner Michelle Gayer. “I need a break. I’m exhausted. It’s too much responsibility for one girl, and I want to spend more time with my kids.”
Not to fret: the St. Paul location is remaining open.
“It’s just one pretty baby to worry about,” she said. “You have to save the cutest for last.”
Gayer started her business in the Midtown Global Market and made her tiny bakery an immediate anchor of that food-focused operation. She stayed a decade, moving out last year and relocating a mile or so west to a wholesale/retail operation at 2940 Harriet Av. S., in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood.
“We tried to grow the business too fast,” she said. “We went into this building on Harriet, and we just didn’t have the momentum.”
Gayer (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo) is saying goodbye to her wholesale accounts. She's unsure about the fate of her outpost at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport ("To be determined," she said), and isn’t sure about maintaining her popular stand at the Mill City Farmers Market.
“I’ve got to get everything settled, first,” she said. “My first calls were to all of my bakery friends — Diane [Moua] at Bellecour and John [Kraus] at Patisserie 46 — to see if they were hiring, so my bakers have a place to go.”
Gayer is a veteran of the former Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, and she’s accumulated enough James Beard award nominations to paper a smallish bedroom. She said that she’s moving her equipment to the Market House Collective, chef Tim McKee’s collaborative space in Lowertown and the home of the Salty Tart’s sunny bakery/cafe.
“Life is short,” she said. “I have to take care of myself, and I don’t want to get cancer again. I’ve had a good run, and I’ve loved every minute of it. And now I’m just going to focus on the cafe, cooking food instead of taking care of people and things.”
Talking about cooking brought a spark to her voice (that's a Salty Tart tartine, pictured, above).
“I’m excited for spring,” she said. “Ramps, fiddlehead ferns, all the kind of fun stuff. I’m obsessed with green shakshuka, I don’t know why.”
As for the Salty Tart’s space in Minneapolis, “If anyone’s looking for a great kitchen, with great energy, it’s available,” she said.