A collaboration between two Twin Cities culinary kingpins is coming to the North Loop. Soon.
Bellecour chef/owner Gavin Kaysen and pastry chef Diane Moua are launching a temporary iteration of their Wayzata bakery in a portion of the space that Cooks of Crocus Hill uses as a culinary school and retail store.
“We’re effectively creating a pop-up,” said Kaysen. “The beautiful thing about a pop-up is that if it succeeds, that’s great. Then you figure it out for the long run. And if it fails, that’s great, too, because then you know before going any further that it wasn’t going to work out.”
The new enterprise, scheduled to open next week, is at 210 N. 1st St., across the street from Kaysen’s Spoon and Stable restaurant.
The project materialized in a relative flash.
“I sent Gavin a text and said, ‘If you’d ever like to think about doing a Bellecour expansion, let me know, because we have space,’ ” said Karl Benson, Cooks of Crocus Hill co-owner. “Two weeks later, we were talking, and it all came together, fast.”
Bellecour will occupy the front half of Cooks’ retail floor, and a dozen or so diners will be able to sit — with proper social distance, of course — in the space usually reserved for the cooking school. Cooks’ retail store will consolidate in the back half of the current store, and classes will continue during Bellecour’s off hours. Benson and his spouse and business partner, Marie Dwyer, have also added outdoor seating on the sidewalk.
The two institutions already have a relationship. Bellecour has been providing sweets and breads for Cooks’ grab-and-go food operation.
The pastry selection will include croissants, almond croissants, pain au chocolat, ham-and-cheese croissants, kouign-amann, banana bread, cookies and Moua’s signature crêpe cake.
“Diane could serve a crêpe cake in the Sahara Desert and people would show up and stand in line,” said Kaysen with a laugh. (It’s probably true: Moua is one of six pastry chefs in the U.S. nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s 2020 Outstanding Pastry Chef award; it’s her second nomination. The winner will be announced Sept. 25).
The savory menu will feature a few sandwiches, a chilled soup (yellow tomato gazpacho), quiche and a kale salad with glazed carrots and roasted almonds. There will be coffee beverages, too.
“We’re going to ease into it, listen to the clientele and see if they want something different,” said Moua. “We’ll see how it goes.”
Kaysen said the plan is to run the pop-up through at least December.
“I say that with an asterisk, because we’re in such a different time right now, and it’s hard to measure any kind of success,” he said. “Part of this is that we’ve gone from creating joy to managing fear. This project is an opportunity to bring some joy back to the neighborhood.”
It could certainly use it, given the recent loss of a pair of first-rate North Loop bakery/cafes: the April closing of the Bachelor Farmer and its casual cafe — which was just down the block from Cooks of Crocus Hill — and the May demise of 29-year-old Moose & Sadie’s, which had been a located a block around the corner.
“Seeing them close is really sad on so many levels,” said Kaysen. “There’s really no place to get a coffee, to congregate, in the neighborhood. This seemed like an opportunity for us.”
The plan is to open July 13, with hours to be determined.
“We do know that we’ll open every day at 7 a.m.,” said Kaysen.