Be on the lookout for some big changes at Penny's Coffee.

For starters, the growing company has hired a culinary director. She’s Shawn McKenzie, and she was the longtime — and gifted — pastry chef at Burch Steak and Pizza.

After making a tasting tour through Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, McKenzie is going to be placing a Middle Eastern emphasis on the menu’s pastries, breads and sweets. She’ll also be tweaking the menu’s crepes, salads, sandwiches and other savory items.

“We saw a great opportunity to reinvent the wheel,” said co-founder and CEO Ben Hertz. “We’re going to let the menu evolve over time.”

A full-scale bakery is now under construction at the company’s Linden Hills location. When it’s finished in January, diners will be able to watch McKenzie and her crew at work behind large glass windows.

Also coming in early 2019: a Wayzata location. The 70-seat cafe — that’s roughly the same size as the company’s Linden Hills outlet — will be designed by James Dayton Design of Minneapolis.

“We’re not disclosing the exact location just yet,” said Hertz. “But it’s a cool old downtown building, with a parking lot, which is a great asset for that area.”

That expansion will make Penny's a three-location operation (the original outlet, pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo, is in downtown Minneapolis), and Hertz said they’re just getting started.

“We’re going to take the bull by the horns, and open a lot of cafes,” he said.

The plan includes adding a mobile operation and making the jump to other cities.

“The goal is to provide markets that lack great coffee with better experiences than Starbucks, and with less pretense than you find in the third-wave coffee world,” said Hertz. “I have no doubt that we can build a hundred of these cafes, and that's what we intend to do.”

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