The Wedge Table, the six-year-old Eat Street destination, will close in July.
Located at 2412 S. Nicollet Av. in Minneapolis, the Wedge Table houses a bodega-style grocery store, cafe, community room and commissary kitchen. It's a component of member-owned Twin Cities Co-op Partners (TCCP), which operates the Wedge and Linden Hills co-ops in Minneapolis and Co-op Partners Warehouse in St. Paul.
"This is definitely unfortunate, and in a way it's probably a little bit overdue," said Josh Resnik, the group's CEO. "We held on as long as we could, but the pandemic accelerated it."
The Wedge Table's bodega and cafe components have been shuttered since July — sales plummeted during the pandemic — but the commissary kitchen and bakehouse have continued to service the Wedge and Linden Hills co-ops as well as wholesale accounts and catering clients. The final day of production is scheduled for July 12.
After that, the deli, grab-and-go and hot-bar items, cookies and muffins produced by the Wedge Table will be prepared in kitchens at the co-ops' two retail stores, and TCCP will leave the artisan bread business.
"Artisan bread is such a labor-intensive business," said Resnik. "While people were definitely buying our amazing breads, it was never at a scale where the business model totally worked for us."
Instead, the co-ops' stores will carry breads from Twin Cities bakeries.
The Wedge Table currently has 34 employees, and Resnik said at least 10 jobs will be transferred to kitchen positions at the Wedge and Linden Hills stores.
"The exact number of layoffs is to be determined," he said, adding that the stores have a handful of job openings that they hope to fill with Wedge Table workers, and that TCCP is coordinating with local co-ops and bakeries on job placement opportunities.
As for the Nicollet Avenue building, the plan is to sell it.
"As much as I love the vibe there, and the space, it ended up not making sense to continue on," said Resnik. "This was a financial drain on the organization. We had to step back and ask, 'What do we do really well?' The retail stores and Co-op Partners Warehouse are doing extremely well, and we need to focus on what we do best."
Annual sales are $28 million at Wedge Co-op, $16 million at Linden Hills Co-op and $30 million at Co-op Partners Warehouse (CPW), a wholesale operation that supplies organic produce to 400 retailers, restaurants and educational institutions in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Michigan.
"CPW is the hidden gem in our portfolio," said Resnik. "This is the first year that CPW sales will exceed sales at the Wedge."
Resnik attributes CPW's sales growth to the pandemic-related surge in people cooking and eating at home. Another? The recent addition of a sophisticated temperature-controlled facility for ripening fair-trade, organic bananas — up to 2,300 cases at a time — as well as avocados, mangos and other fruits.
"The ripening rooms have created a very positive cycle," said Resnik. "We're able to make more frequent deliveries of bananas. That leads to delivering a fresher, higher-quality product, and that opens the doors to more orders, and to a spike in sales of other kinds of produce."
Turns out, bananas and avocados are the top-selling items at both the Wedge and Linden Hills co-ops.
"Which is pretty incredible," said Resnik. "Because you have to sell a lot of them for those dollars to add up."
Rick Nelson • @RickNelsonStrib