First, the bad news: After opening a little less than a year ago, Eureka Compass Vegan Food -- that little gem of a plant-based restaurant at 629 Aldine St. in St. Paul -- closed on Saturday.
Now, the good news -- of which there's quite a bit. The closure hasn't come about because Eureka Compass was struggling. Quite the opposite, in fact. Chef-owner Colin Anderson's food has been such a hit that he's formed a partnership with Evan's Organic Eatery, a soup-salad-sandwich stop in the St. Paul skyway, where he'll help them transition to an all-vegan menu.
"They opened about one month before I opened," Anderson tells City Pages. "When one of my partners [at Evan's] first met me, he was like, 'Where were you two months ago when we wanted to open an all vegan, organic restaurant?'"
The group bonded over a shared vision of waste-free farm-to-table eats, and in January, Anderson started making seasoned jackfruit fillings for Evan's sandwiches and tacos. The menu addition would become their most popular item practically overnight; soon, 70 percent of Evan's sales were coming from vegan food. ("Their customers are freaking out over the jackfruit filling.") But their chef wasn't interested in going all-out vegan, so he's stepping away while Anderson steps in, taking the Eureka concept -- with its focus on organic, local, fair-trade ingredients and recipes -- and "blowing it up" in the skyway.
But wait, there's more! Anderson may have been snatched away to the skies for now, but he's not finished on Aldine. In a few months, Eureka Compass will reopen -- this time, as a vegan pizza delivery shop. The inside seating area is set to become a vegan grocery.
And Anderson isn't stopping there. This summer, he plans to debut a food cart in downtown St. Paul with premade vegan sandwiches and raw salads and soups, and within the next few years, he has his eyes on opening a finer-dining, sit-down kind of space.
For the time being, though, you'll find him in the kitchen at Evan's -- he officially takes over starting Monday. It's a situation he really couldn't be more stoked on right now (and if you're curious exactly how the partnership shakes out, you can find a missive on the collaboration from Eureka's Facebook page below). "To go join forces with them and really amplify what we're able to do -- it's incredibly exciting," Anderson says. "I could not be happier."
Amazing what a little jackfruit can do.