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Continued: Restaurant news: Chef Shack and more

  • Article by: RICK NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 31, 2013 - 4:02 PM

Fred’s Bread (6872 Washington Av. S., Eden Prairie, www.fredsbread.com) started earlier this year as a wholesale operation, but co-owners and spouses Fred Mische and Mandy Chowen quickly launched a retail counter in their not-so-retail industrial park location.

The focus is on skillfully crafted breads — usually a half-dozen different choices — but the couple also turns out a small selection of cookies, scones, tarts and cakes. The bakery is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

Honey and Rye Bakehouse (4501 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, www.honey-and-rye.com) quietly opened its doors this past weekend. Well, as quietly as any food-and-drink outlet can open in the can’t-keep-a-secret age of social media.

Anne Andrus and pal and co-owner Emily Ackerman have been friends since the sixth grade, where they met in the cafeteria at their Little Falls, Minn., middle school (“Food brought us together,” said Andrus).

After college, the friends went in different directions. Andrus moved to San Francisco and worked in nonprofits, but quickly grew restless with desk life (“I like being active and being on my feet, rather than coming in to a full e-mail box,” she said) and started working in bakeries, which led to study at the artisan bread-focused San Francisco Baking Institute.

She returned to Minnesota and spent two years in the pastry kitchen at Common Roots Cafe in Minneapolis, always with the dream of opening her own place.

Ackerman, a graphic designer working in advertising, was nurturing her own dream: a store of her own. The two connected, and now Ackerman is running the front half of the business, “while I hide in the back,” said Andrus the baker.

To start, Andrus is offering four daily breads: baguette, sourdough, multigrain and focaccia, with a few ever-rotating daily features (pretzels on Thursday, honey challah on Friday, cinnamon brioche on Sunday), with an array of cookies, cakes, pies and that good-old-fashioned breakfast staple, monkey bread.

“Our products are very down-to-earth,” said Andrus. “I have a huge love for the Midwest and for home-style baking and cooking, so I think of our products as ‘homemade,’ in quotes, because we’re obviously not in a home.”

Here’s what you won’t find: bagels. After two years of bagel-making at Common Roots, “I’m bagel-ed out,” Andrus said with a laugh. Honey and Rye is also a cupcake-free zone.

“I worked at a cupcake shop in Oakland, and so I’ve done enough of them to last a lifetime,” Andrus said.

Ackerman’s design chops went a long way in converting a former dry cleaner into their gracious and sunny spot, which serves breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday and remains open until 6 p.m. weekdays.

“I love the idea of catching commuters on their way home from work, grabbing fresh bread,” said Andrus. “We’re just excited to be a part of the small retail baking scene, making fresh stuff, every day. There’s definitely room for more shops like ours.”

Meanwhile, after several years of plying downtown Minneapolis with their cupcakes, cookies, cakes and other exquisitely crafted sweets from their Gaviidae Common (651 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.) outpost, Cocoa & Fig co-owners and spouses Laurie Pyle and Joe Lin have branched out, adding a second location in Edina (6807 York Av. S., Edina, www.cocoaandfig.com).

 Burgers, brats and beer

Not landing a berth on the Food Network’s “Food Court Wars” may prove to have been the best thing to ever happen to the Berset family. And to Excelsior diners.

Father Bob, mother Cindy and daughters Kelsey and Ashley had pitched a Scandinavian bakery and cafe for the show. While they didn’t make the final cut, “It got us super-excited,” said Kelsey Berset. The family had owned a handful of pizza franchises, and after selling them in 2006, they decided to get back into the business.

Specifically, a burger-, hot dog- and pizza-centric sports bar they’re calling the Suburban (342 3rd St., Excelsior, www.thesuburbanmn.com). “We decided to go with our full-on dream of owning a restaurant and bar,” said Kelsey.

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