Visitors to Penny’s Coffee are in for a sweet treat: A brand-new bakery helmed by executive chef Shawn McKenzie just opened at the cafe's Linden Hills location. She’s a familiar face in the Twin Cities dining scene, thanks to her previous tenure as the pastry chef at Burch.
In addition to keeping the case stocked with croissants, cookies, and other pastries, the bakery will provide the bread for sandwiches. Whole loaves will also be available for purchase.
Besides developing the bakery program, McKenzie is responsible for a new cafe menu that will debut in a few months and will feature improvements to existing items as well as new selections. “This is my first time dabbling into the savory world,” she says. “It’s a little scary!”
But if the still-under-development items we sampled at a recent preview are any indication, McKenzie has nothing to worry about. The influence of her time in Tel Aviv was evident across the board, with za’atar-dusted pitas, hummus, and a brightly-flavored carrot raisin salad. Obviously, the breads are stellar—we couldn’t get enough of the charred onion sourdough. McKenzie notes that she hopes to do soups and curries at some point in the future.
Desserts were an intriguing blend of sweet and savory, like a delicate pastry twist flavored with honey and turmeric. Our favorite was the tahini babka, which will be a regular on the bakery menu. The dense slice ate like a coffee cake, with swirls of salty tahini balanced by caramelized white chocolate and a topping of housemade grapefruit marmalade.
Currently, Penny’s has two Minneapolis locations: the Linden Hills cafe/bakery at 3509 W 44th St. and a downtown Minneapolis coffee shop in the lobby at 100 Washington Avenue South. A Wayzata location is scheduled to open on June 1, and the company has further plans to expand to St. Paul.
And that’s only the beginning.
“We have a pie-in-the-sky dream of opening 100 cafes,” says Penny’s Coffee CEO Foley Schmidt. “But right now, we’re focused on opening one great cafe at a time."
Schmidt believes that the community table seating and heavy emphasis on the food menu distinguish Penny’s from other local coffee shops. "We want to change how people feel—if you leave [Penny’s] a little bit happier than when you walked in, we’ve done our job.”
“We’re focused on three things,” he continues. “Community, conversation, and coffee. With a $10 purchase, you’ll get the best guest experience money can buy—plus a latte and a pastry.”