The Wedge Co-op is buying itself some breathing room.
The store is relocating its bake shop and most of its kitchen operations from its bursting-at-the-seams store at 22nd Street and Lyndale Avenue S. in Minneapolis. They’ll be moving seven blocks east to 24th and Nicollet — heart of the commercial thoroughfare known as Eat Street — into a building that currently houses an Asian supermarket, Hai Nguyen.
A significant renovation will include the creation of a 9,000-square-foot commercial kitchen. The building’s remaining 3,500 square feet will be evenly divided between a counter-service cafe and what Wedge CEO Josh Resnik described as a “natural foods bodega,” stocked with a limited selection of meat, dairy, produce and grocery staples.
“Instead of 25 cereals, it will offer three or four,” he said.
The cafe will feature salads, soups, sandwiches, baked goods and other grab-and-go items, along with coffees and juices, a selection similar to the one currently offered at the Wedge. Other amenities will include table seating — a Wedge first — and an adjacent community room.
“We didn’t intend to open a market and cafe,” Resnik said. “But it’s something our members have asked for, and the building has more space than we needed for our commissary kitchen.”
Construction on the $4.5 million project is scheduled to begin this spring, with a grand opening planned for late 2014.
A renovation of the Lyndale store — which will repurpose the space currently used by the existing bake shop and prep kitchen — is planned for early 2015. The third component of the co-op’s multiyear expansion — a second full-service store at a location to be determined — will follow.
The commissary and store remodeling projects are being partly funded by a $2 million preferred stock share program for Wedge members. To date, more than $1.4 million has been raised from the 39-year-old cooperative’s base of 15,700 members.
Lakewinds also expanding
The Wedge isn’t the only Twin Cities natural foods co-op on a growth spurt.
Lakewinds Natural Foods, which operates stores in Minnetonka and Chanhassen, is opening a third location in May at 64th Street and Lyndale Avenue S. in Richfield. Seward Co-op has announced plans to build a second store at 38th and Clinton in Minneapolis.
“Co-ops have the good fortune of being on trend with a lot of what is going on in the food industry,” Resnik said. “People want more accountability about where their food is coming from, and buzzwords like ‘local’ and ‘organic’ have been talked about at co-ops for decades.”
The new Wedge site’s next-door neighbor? McDonald’s.
“Yeah, there’s a certain irony to that,” Resnik said with a laugh. “But we love the location. It makes a lot of sense for us to have a facility on Eat Street.”