MINNEAPOLIS — As bakers busily prepared on Friday for a weekend grand opening in the North Loop, Gavin Kaysen could practically taste the optimism.
The award-winning chef will unveil his newest venture, Bellecour Bakery at Cooks, on Saturday morning, highlighting a powerful collaboration with the Cooks of Crocus Hill brand that dates back to 1973.
“It’s just exciting to have joy again,” Kaysen said.
Bellecour Bakery at Cooks will sell coffee, pastries, sandwiches, soups and salads inside the Cooks of Crocus Hill cooking school space, located across the street from Kaysen’s “Spoon and Stable” restaurant. It comes just two months after Kaysen was forced to close his Bellecour location in Wazyata due to the COVID-19 pandemic, just one of the many high-profile restaurants in the Twin Cities that could not remain viable in these difficult economic conditions.
“Having to sever those relationships so quickly is the most difficult part emotionally for me,” Kaysen said. “[But] seeing that the brand can still live on – is a positive.”
Over the summer, Kaysen and Cooks of Crocus Hill opened a pop-up location in the North Loop on a temporary basis, but Saturday’s grand opening will mark the start of a newer, more permanent chapter. Kaysen said that he’s often dreamed of collaborating with Cooks, and this weekend that dream will become a reality.
Karl Benson, co-owner of Cooks, said Kaysen’s team has aligned well with his own team as they forge ahead on a new path together. Benson first suggested the pop-up location to Kaysen early in the pandemic, which ultimately led to this partnership.
“It is a really positive thing in an otherwise dreary dismal time,” Benson said. “There seems to be so little positive news out there. Just to do something creative and positive is very energizing.”
The Bellecour Bakery at Cooks also serves as an example of changing business models in the restaurant industry, which had so much to fear when this all began in March – and still has major anxieties about the future.
“A lot of us thought, how can we stay afloat for two months? What does that look like? And then two months passed, and then four months passed, and now six months have passed,” Kaysen said. “So the question is different: We’re looking at, what does it look like to stay afloat for longer?”
Kaysen, at least, found his answer for Bellecour in the North Loop.
“Just to be able to bring back a little joy, and life, to the neighborhood, is really, really exciting,” Kaysen said.