"Martha built this," said Cooks of Crocus Hill co-owner Karl Benson. "We're reviving her original glory."
Martha is the late Martha Kaemmer, co-founder of the cookware store and cooking school, and Benson is referring to the deli counter that originally graced Cooks' longtime Grand Avenue location.
That aspect of the business disappeared in the early 1990s, but it's now coming back, in the same spot within the store — the white ceramic tile from the deli is still there — as a branch of Bellecour Bakery.
"Here we are, 30 years later, moving back to the original configuration," said Cooks co-owner Marie Dwyer. "Martha was way ahead of her time."
Last summer, the couple partnered with chef Gavin Kaysen and pastry chef Diane Moua to open a pop-up of Bellecour Bakery in the North Loop location of Cooks of Crocus Hill (210 N. 1st St., Mpls.), which is conveniently located across the street from Kaysen's Spoon and Stable.
At the time, Bellecour Bakery was a component of Bellecour restaurant in downtown Wayzata. After Kaysen closed Bellecour (the site is now home to chef Daniel del Prado's Josefina), the pop-up became a permanent North Loop fixture.
Now the partnership is taking their successful format to Cooks' flagship location (877 Grand Av., St. Paul). Although Benson and Dwyer are relatively new to selling croissants, Niçoise salads and lattes, Benson said it doesn't feel that way.
"Pandemic years are like dog years," said Benson. "We've been in the bakery business for a year, but it feels like we've been at it for 10 years. The pace is incredible. No sooner have we finished figuring out one thing, and we've already outgrown it."
The menu will closely mirror what's being sold in the North Loop — pastries, coffee and espresso, grab-and-go sandwiches and salads — with a few exceptions.
"We can't do deviled eggs, because we can't transport them," said Dwyer.
Also, Moua will be temporarily reviving a Bellecour favorite. The bakery's raspberry frangipane, which has not been on the menu since the Wayzata location closed, will return — at St. Paul only — for a month.
Now that the final stainless-steel countertops have arrived and are being installed, an opening date has been announced: Aug. 12.
Hours will be 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.