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MNfusion: The Wedge Sets A Place For Everyone At The Table

A long-time staple of the Whittier neighborhood recently opened a new location along Minneapolis' Eat Street.

The Wedge
(credit: CBS)

The Wedge Table opened their doors, and pulled out a chair, for the Nicollet neighborhood on Jan. 26.

The new space includes not only a market where shoppers can purchase their produce and other groceries, but a full-scale café area complete with coffee and bar.

The Wedge Community Foods opened in Minneapolis in November of 1974. The first location was in a basement apartment along Franklin Avenue. It soon outgrew its Franklin location and moved to a convenience storefront on Lyndale Avenue. It made one more move to its final spot in 1992.

So, while this certainly isn't the first move for the 40-year-old co-op, it is the first time they have had two locations.

"We started off in a really small corner shop on Franklin and have slowly continued to grow. Right now we are currently at over 16,000 owners," Brand Marketing Director Jessica Pierce said.

The Lyndale location is still open and thriving, but for the first time the Wedge has been able to make their offerings more readily accessible to other neighborhoods, who are more than eager to accept them.

"The neighborhood is awesome and what we're seeing is there are a lot of people who have never even heard of the Wedge and they are like 'You're in my neighborhood now!' And they're super excited about that," Pierce said.

And why shouldn't they be?

The 15,500 square-foot space is expansive, inviting and offers up local, organic food to be prepared by you or to be readily enjoyed.

The Wedge On Eat Street
(credit: CBS)

The new space doesn't have the bulk items that the Lyndale space offers, but still has isles full of products and a lush produce section.

The Wedge Produce Section
(credit: CBS)

And while many items on the menu have stayed the same, preparations have changed due to the new space.

"We're known for our burritos and one thing that we're doing new is we have our own tortilla maker," Pierce said. "We're actually making the tortillas homemade from scratch."

Pierce said this was a big win for the co-op because they are now able to ensure that they always are offering clean, organic tortillas.

The Wedge Deli Counter
(credit: CBS)

The café is also working to explore more seasonal options. Pierce said to expect more salads during the summer and more seasonal offerings throughout the year.

"What you're going to see here is an ever evolving menu. Truly farm-to-table style," Pierce said. "That's to support our farmers but that's truly the way people eat."

When I asked what menu item was a must-try by Pierce's standards, she said, without hesitation, the Apple Beat Salad.

"It's just delicious. It's got a great dressing. We've got pieces of Herb Chevre in it and crostinis within it," Pierce said. "And I'd get a glass of wine, too."

And yes, their drinks are local and organic too!

The co-op café has all the same staples as any coffee house – smoothies, shakes, teas and juices. But all are made fresh using ingredients taken from the shelf of the market. Meaning customers could make the same recipe at home.

On my visit, I tried the Very Berry Smoothie. Made from apple juice, kefir, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, it was a very refreshing. The raspberry offered a tartness that complimented the crisp apple flavor. The kefir cut a bit of the tart berry flavor and made for nice, light base. It was delicious.

The Wedge Coffee Bar
(credit: CBS)

Coffee lovers will be happy to learn the Wedge has partnered with Kickapoo Coffee, a company that supports the small business from farmers to roasters.

And for those who aren't impressed yet, they have kombucha on tap.

Aside from the fresh juices and smoothies, the Wedge also offers beer, wine and specialty cocktails. All from local sources.

"It was just a proud moment for the staff because there aren't any co-ops in the Twin Cities who have their liquor license. So for us it's a big deal to be able to have people come in, share a cocktail," Pierce said.

The Wedge first partnered with Minneapolis brewery, Bauhaus. They offer all four of their canned beers on tap. They then partnered with Du Nord Craft Spirits to create two specialty cocktails only available at The Wedge – the Fitzgerald Old Fashioned and the Back In Thyme.

The expansion is notable, not just for the second window front, but because they will be able to offer other services that they haven't had in the past. Pierce hopes these include catering and a lecture series.

"Really, sort of the purpose for us going through this expansion was to build our catering business," Pierce said.

Pierce said discussions have also revolved around how to revamp their class schedule. They hope their Nicollet location will attract more chefs so they can offer demos and teach people how to make meals. They also hope to engage the community in more discussion about food politics and food justice.

Entrance To The Wedge
(credit: CBS)

The Wedge has long been a space where people were able to find quality, local food and now, Pierce said, the Wedge hopes to be a place where people can come together over that food.

"For us, even the name 'The Table' was very, very intentional, that we are creating that space for people to come around the table," Pierce said. "It's really about bringing people together around food and local food."

The Wedge is located at 2412 Nicollet Avenue. They are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For more information on how to become an owner, visit The Wedge online.


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