We're willing to bet Vegan East will do just fine in Minneapolis.
For one, scarcely three months have passed since the popular plant-based bakery moved from an in-house operation to a storefront in White Bear Lake, and they've already done well enough that they're gearing up to grow.
For another, the expansion comes less than two years after the bakery debuted at Twin Cities Veg Fest 2016—these cookies and cupcakes have quickly been a hell of a hit.
For another? it just seems like a good omen that they're moving into 2409 Lyndale Ave. S. That's the space that formerly housed pioneering vegan eatery Ecopolitan—one of the nation's first raw foods restaurants—which shuttered in 2016 after 15 years.
“When we first started looking, we were looking kind of all across the metro. We really weren’t discriminating against location,” Vegan East co-founder Reid Nelson says. (He oversees the business side of things for Vegan East; his wife, Sheila, is the bakery mastermind.) “When we saw White Bear, and we walked right into it and saw the downtown vibe, we just loved it.” But they also never really stopped looking for another home. And since so many of their fans make the trek out from the Twin Cities (or Eden Prairie, or Chaska), having a more centralized hub made sense.
At Vegan East West, you'll find the same fan-favorite cupcakes, quiches, cookies, and cheesecakes. (And yes, those cinnamon rolls that have been cause for many a plant-based pilgrimage to White Bear.) "For sure, everything we have in White Bear, we'll have in Whittier," Reid says, though he adds that they'd like to expand the menu, offering more breakfast items and maybe sandwiches and salads. The space isn’t all that large, and he's fairly certain the Minneapolis location will have the same "grab and go vibe" White Bear does, though the hope is that more people might sit and eat here.
One important thing to note, if you do plan on dining in: They'll have a patio. Which is why, while he doesn't want to make a promise about the date, Reid says they'll for sure be open by summer. Hopefully even as soon as July.
Asked how they've been able to do so much, so quickly—and how that's felt— Reid is at first quick to downplay, to defer credit. "We’ve grown really fast, and we’re not hiding the fact that we’re not restaurant people. At all. This was my wife’s first job in food; this was my first job in food.” He gives it up to the community that's supported them through it all, both the regulars and the folks at other vegan eateries—the Herbivorous Butcher, J. Selby's—who have been consistently available with advice and encouragement.
But, if you press him a little? He'll say just what the customers who have made the bakery such a hit will tell you.
“You know, my wife’s baked goods really speak for themselves."
Vegan East Uptown
2409 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
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