Asa's Bakery, the source for some of the Twin Cities' best bagels — as well as a rare producer of bialys — is moving to new and roomier digs, taking over the south Minneapolis address that was most recently home to Sassy Spoon.
The move to 5011 34th Av. S. represents a big step forward for baker/owner Asa Diebolt. The graphic artist-turned-baker launched his business as a stand at the Midtown Farmers Market in Minneapolis, selling the naturally leavened bagels and bialys that he grew up eating in upstate New York.
Diebolt went the brick-and-mortar route two years ago, sharing the cramped kitchen of a former deli (3507 23rd Av. S., Mpls.) with a food truck/catering operation. As that business grew, square footage became scarce.
"In the fall — after looking for a year — I posted on my social media, telling people I was looking," he said. "That's when someone connected me with Sassy Spoon, before the word was out that they were closing. It worked out well. I was counting on serendipity, and that's what happened."
Sassy Spoon, a beacon in the gluten-free dining universe, closed in November. Owner Tamara Brown opened her restaurant in 2015 following several years of operating a food truck.
History is running in Diebolt's favor. From 1993 to 2009, the storefront was home to Scandia Bake Shop, and from 2009 to 2014, 3 Tiers bakery held the lease.
Diebolt plans to continue with his menu standards, which includes five varieties of bagels (plain, poppy, salt, sesame and everything), plus bialys and breads, all produced with locally milled flours. The increased elbow room will also provide the opportunity to expand his product offerings.
"More cookies, scones and other sweets that we didn't do before, plus more beverages," he said. He's also planning to return to the spreads that he was producing before the pandemic: lox and whitefish, plus seasonal cream cheeses (sweet corn-chive, roasted beet-fennel, nettle-Parmesan-black pepper and other novelties) that capitalize on the connections that Diebolt has made with farmers market vendors.
Hours will expand, too. After months of a Thursday-only schedule, Diebolt is hoping to operate Thursday through Sunday. The new place will start with counter service and takeout, with the hope of eventually taking advantage of a small dining room.
"We'll definitely grow into the space," said Diebolt.
Last weekend was the final appearance at the current location, and the plan is to reopen on 34th Avenue in mid- to late January. The distance between Asa's 1.0 and 2.0 isn't far, about 2 miles.
"I'm happy to hear from customers that they'll make the longer trip to come and see us," said Diebolt. "I've also heard from people who are happy that it's a shorter trip."