The Swedish Crown Bakery in Anoka has tantalized customers with homemade soups, thought-provoking vegetarian dishes and taste-bud teasers like salmon au gratin and meatballs in coconut and mango sauce — all made from scratch.

What the bakery lacked was a big selection of baked goods. Or an oven large enough to produce the breads, pastries and other offerings that husband-and-wife team Fari and Eva Sabet dreamed of creating when they opened their restaurant 18 months ago within the Grass Roots Co-op store, a block south of Main Street.

That's about to change. On Saturday a new Swedish Crown Bakery, located at the Anoka Shopping Center on Main Street, will mark its grand opening. The restaurant within the Co-op will remain, under the name Swedish Crown Cafe & Deli.

"I don't churn the butter, but otherwise, everything is made from scratch," said Eva Voros Sabet as a customer sampled a Swedish almond twist filled with almond paste.

"We want people to come in and pick up something they can't find anywhere else."

There are no added colorings or preservatives. Not a lot of sugar is used.

"I want people to feel good about themselves when they walk out of our bakery," she said.

Truly Swedish? A definite ya

If there's any question as to whether many of the recipes are authentically Swedish, well, bring an interpreter if you plan on interrupting a conversation between Eva and baker Linda Gilbertson. Many of their behind-the-counter discussions are in Swedish.

The Swedish Crown Bakery already has provided catered goods for the Swedish Institute and the Ingebretsen's store in Minneapolis and for Ikea in Bloomington, Eva said. The bakery is expected to sell wholesale as well as retail.

Even with the Twin Cities' deep Scandinavian heritage, there are few bakeries like this one proposes to be.

Quite a journey

For Eva, 40, the new bakery marks another memorable stop on what has already become a remarkable journey. A native of Malmo, Sweden, she grew up around exotic foods. Her mother worked in a chocolate factory. By the time she was 12, Eva was baking every day.

She dreamed of going to chef's school. Fate took her, instead, to jobs working in a chiropractor's office, in a salon, as a receptionist, on a boat and as a blackjack dealer.

One of her blackjack customers was Fari, a gamble that left both dealer and customer winners. Fari, a native of Tehran, was living in Anoka County. He'd worked at his own restaurant and dreamed of running his own.

He soon will be running two.

In recent months, he's run back and forth from the cafe at the co-op to the bakery site a mile away. His days begin slightly after dawn. He rarely arrives home before 8 p.m.

"But it's nice," he said. "People have brought us so many compliments, so we know our customers are happy with what we're doing.

"We didn't have the space to bake before, but now we have a rack oven that can bake 100 loaves of bread at once."

Along with the assortment of breads, the bakery will sell signature sandwiches unlikely to be found anywhere else in the Twin Cities. And there will be cakes, turnovers, tortes, some gluten free.

"The smell of bread triggers an ancient DNA in all of us," Eva said. "Cheese has a link to a certain emotion. The smells in a bakery create happiness. They're emotionally satisfying.

"Oh, I get so excited thinking about this. Here I am hoping to fill people's stomachs. I have butterflies in mine."

Paul Levy • 612-673-4419