Northeast Minneapolis doughnut shop Sleepy V’s closed over the weekend, but it’s not only because of coronavirus.
“It was a lot of things,” said co-owner Vince Traver. “We were crashing and burning anyway.”
Sleepy V’s first opened under the name Rebel Donut Bar in October 2017. It was known for its bite-sized doughnut flights, popular for weddings and to mix-and-match at the small cafe at 1226 2nd St. NE.
The operation faced a number of bumps in the road, including the early name change to avoid trademark litigation. Traver said he also contended with lease issues, labor costs, and slow business this past winter.
“That neighborhood gets real quiet,” Traver said. “Everyone goes to work, goes to bed. How many doughnuts are the neighbors going to eat?”
In February, Traver and business partner Kiah Gumeringer took over the former Maeve’s Cafe space and transformed it into Mary Ellen’s Bistro (300 13th Av. NE., Mpls.). Traver already considered consolidating Sleepy V’s to weekends only, and spending more time at the new cafe.
“And then this happened,” he said, referring to the coronavirus, and the state’s efforts to stop its spread by closing restaurants for on-premise dining.
“I was down to zero staff,” he said. “The labor of doughnuts is excruciating and I’ve been doing it for four years now.”
And he’s still doing it. Traver is now selling his colorful doughnuts at Mary Ellen’s Bistro, which is open for takeout. The North Dakota-themed cafe carries a small selection of greatest hits from Sleepy V’s. So, “it’s not super sad,” he said.
Traver sensed the Twin Cities doughnut market was slowing down, anyway.
“It seems like everyone moved on to biscuits."