St. Paul-based Saint Agnes Baking Co. will cease production at the end of the week, causing restaurateurs across the Twin Cities to scramble to find replacement baked goods in time for the throngs of diners many are expecting for the Super Bowl.
Saint Agnes is a wholesale bakery that has provided a range of artisanal breads and pastries to hundreds of restaurants throughout Minnesota since 1995. Its customers have ranged from locally owned food co-ops to some of the best-known local restaurants such as Revival and vendors at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“The problem that people like myself have during this whole thing is we have the Super Bowl in two weeks, and I’m scrambling to get a baker,” said Tim Mahoney, owner of the Loon Cafe, on 1st Avenue and 5th Street in downtown Minneapolis. “And I’m not the only one.”
Mahoney said Wednesday he has been told by Saint Agnes that after Friday, the bakery will no longer be operational.
A representative at Saint Agnes said Wednesday the company had no comment and would not say why it is ceasing operations.
Mahoney, who also is president of the Warehouse District Business Association, said he was first tipped that something was amiss by other worried restaurateurs Tuesday.
Food vendors began approaching Mahoney on Wednesday morning, pitching him on their breads. Loon Cafe has used Saint Agnes for at least the last 15 years with the bakery providing all of its bread products from the onion buns used for its house favorite chicken sandwiches to the Texas toast that goes along with several of its popular chilis.
While it won’t be impossible to find another vendor, it will be difficult to find another bakery quickly that can replicate the specialty bread, Mahoney said.
“The bread is a very, very important thing when you are a sandwich-dominated restaurant like ourselves,” he said. “Bread makes or breaks a sandwich.”
In south Minneapolis, Bull’s Horn Food & Drink uses several breads from Saint Agnes such as milk buns for their burgers and a dark Russian bun for their roast beef sandwiches.
“We’re devastated. We are super bummed out,” said Doug Flicker, who recently opened Bull’s Horn. “We love their product. They are a central part of what we do.”
At U.S. Bank Stadium, which will play host to the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, Saint Agnes provides buns for chicken sandwiches at Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen Rotisserie. A Zimmern representative was not available Wednesday night and a spokesman from Aramark, which runs catering operations at the stadium, said it generally doesn’t comment on other companies.
“We’ve got a great menu planned for [the] Super Bowl and are looking forward to serving fans the distinctive lineup of offerings U.S. Bank Stadium has become known for,” said David Freireich, a spokesman for Aramark.
Late Wednesday, Zimmern said in a statement, “I am not concerned about us finding a suitable replacement for the product they supply for us at US Bank Stadium. We have several weeks before the Super Bowl. There are many quality bakeries within driving distance of Minneapolis, and we have already begun reaching out to them so that we can be sure to have buns for our AZ Canteen booths.”