Thirsty Whale Bakery in north Minneapolis is now closed. Co-owner Kyle Baker, who ran the popular bakery with spouse Megan Baker, wrote in a social media post: "It's been extremely hard to keep up with the economic changes and I do not see a way for us to continue to operate the same way as we have."
The bakery's run, which ended Dec. 3, has included the highest of highs while also surmounting numerous challenges since opening in 2018. Owned by the Bakers and Megan's sister Sarah Bignell, the opening of the bakery's retail location was delayed due to a break-in. But throughout the years, the love for their sweet treats — particularly the doughnuts and custom-made cakes — has been high. In 2019, Thirsty Whale appeared on the Food Network's "Halloween Baking Championship," winning over judges with a re-enactment of a heartbreaking scene from Disney's "The Lion King."
In early March 2019, the Bakers lost their home in a devastating fire that also claimed one of their beloved pets.
Throughout the pandemic, the bakery delivered moments of joy to its customers with items like decorated cupcakes — some sporting face masks. And in November, the Star Tribune ranked the bakery as one of the 30 iconic bakeries in the Twin Cities, noting that orders for its custom cakes were often booked out six weeks in advance.
Now, Baker said custom and cookie orders placed for pickup before Dec. 23 would be fulfilled and that email is the best way to contact them about orders in process.
Baker thanked both staff and customers for their support: "We want to thank you for your business and beautiful community that we have gotten to be a part of."
Krown Bakery owners expand with new cafe
Oakwood Cafe is now open from the owners of Anoka's popular Krown Bakery. Located at 1917 2nd Av., the downtown Anoka cafe shares space with Main Floral and Gift Shop and has retail shelves along with a bakery display and a few warm treats. Opening day had a selection of sweet and savory scones, cinnamon rolls, hot soup and coffee drinks. Oakwood Cafe will be open Tuesdays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Longtime White Bear Lake bakery returns as a new cafe
GoodThings Cafe is now open inside the former Grandma's Bakery in White Bear Lake. The optimistic name might sound familiar — it's an eatery expansion of the retail shop Good Things. Grandma's was a longstanding traditional bakery in the city that was recently sold to Wuollet Bakery (a trend that includes A Baker's Wife in Minneapolis and Han's in Anoka).
The Conrad family, which owns GoodThings, said on the website, "Grandma's Bakery was an icon in the area. Everyone loved that bakery! Now GoodThings Cafe is open in the same location, and it feels great to bring that family bakery experience back to the people of White Bear Lake with delicious, fresh, locally made products."
The cafe (2184 4th St., shopgoodthings.com/cafe) will be open daily with fresh coffee, doughnuts, lunch and more.
Alma opens more bar seats
Important news for other spur-of-the-moment Alma fans — those who have a tendency to wander into Margo and chef Alex Roberts groundbreaking restaurant with futile hopes of an open seat. The Bar at Alma offers more evening seats to have a sip and nosh on the restaurant's cafe side. Open Thursday through Sunday from 5 to 8:30 p.m., there are seasonally inspired dishes, cocktails and pours of their exceptional wine list. Alma is at 528 University Av. SE., Mpls., almampls.com.
Lakes & Legends Brewery closing taproom
They plan to go out on a high note, but it's still a bummer that Lakes & Legends Brewery will close its Loring Park taproom at the end of 2023. "We've got a month of celebrations planned, and our 8th Anniversary Party takes on new meaning as it morphs into our 'Going Out in Style' party!" the company wrote on its Instagram page last week.
Co-founders Ethan Applen and Derrick Taylor opened the taproom with Northwoods vibes and a commitment to giving back. Through the years, they've hosted nonprofits, small maker markets and animal rescues, in addition to creating a community around their beer.
The announcement comes after a string of other high-profile taproom closures, including Dangerous Man, East Lake Craft Brewing and Clutch inside Keg and Case, which also will cease operations at the end of this year.
Stop by for a pour at 1368 LaSalle Av., Mpls., lakesandlegends.com.
Olio brings its pasta and Italian eats to Bayport
Riley Jackson and Luke Sawtell have opened Olio inside the Wilder Scratch Kitchen address in Bayport (338 5th Av. N., olio-hudson.com). After the success of a summerlong pop-up, the duo have landed this eatery a permanent home with elegant Italian dishes and a major reputation for their pasta work. Hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday (closed Tuesdays), Friday and Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There's only one Old Chicago left standing
The familiar letters have been removed from the now-vacant building outside of Roseville's Har Mar Shopping Center, and with it the memories of wings and pizza. Old Chicago shuttered with zero fanfare a month ago.
The former Uptown location might be the most storied, a building that became a revolving door of other restaurants before being demolished, but Har Mar was the second-to-last outpost in the state. Fans of the deep dish now only have the Eden Prairie location to visit in the Twin Cities market.