If you've been paying attention, you know the national food scene is all atwitter with talk of toast. Cafes and bars dedicated to crispy slices and various spreads have been celebrated and mocked. Food trendsters have hailed it as the next big thing, and skeptics have whipped themselves into a powerful counter-frenzy.
Last week, MSP Magazine's Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl broke the news that Minnesota was about to get its very own toast bar. Located in the former home of Urban Bean at the intersection of 33rd and Bryant, Canteen is now officially open for business and will unveil its toast menu sometime closer to the end of June.
We had a chance to meet up with Liz Abene, owner of Canteen Girl baked goods and longtime Urban Bean veteran, to learn a little bit more about her new venture, the ideas behind it, and what exactly we can expect from Minneapolis's very first toast bar.
The cafe is open for business and they plan to start undergoing their transformation over the weekend. Things will continue to gradually take shape throughout the month when they plan to shut down for two days to finish the re-branding and fully launch the toast bar on June 26.
"I'm not doing this to be Minnesota's first toast bar," says Abene. "I'm partly doing it because we have a lot of young people who come in and hang out, or office people, and it's an easy, not very expensive thing that they can get while they're sitting here for six hours. Then they can feel like they're still buying something, but it's not some expensive $10 sandwich."
As for the toast itself, currently Abene plans to source bread from a variety of local bakeries, possibly going so far as to feature one bakery each week on a rotating schedule. The space doesn't yet have its own kitchen, but if things go well, one of the first plans for expansion will be to put in a space where they can produce baked goods in-house.
"I'm hoping it can be buffet style," Abene says. "We'll have the toasters on the bar, people will pick their bread, people will toast their bread, and then we'll have the condiments. People can do it themselves."
Abene also plans on sourcing a variety of locally produced condiments for their toast, including locally produced butter, specialty jams and jellies, and artisan nut butters. No specific sourcing has been arranged, but she's currently been scouting for the proper assortment of toast toppings.
For those freaking out about the loss of Urban Bean, Abene assures us that she doesn't at all plan to change the overall flow of the coffee shop. In fact, her business partner is longtime Urban Bean owner Greg Martin, and they'll continue to feature Dogwood coffee. For more information and updates, be sure to follow Canteen on Facebook.