On the series premiere of Buy This Restaurant, Kelly and her sister Lisa began the process of shopping for Minneapolis-area hot spots to launch their first-ever eatery, a coffee shop-cafe that would feature simple bites like soup and sandwiches. It was important to these restaurant rookies that their eventual business be quaint enough to offer neighborhood charm, so they tasked Keith Simpson with finding a location that would meet their criteria, all while staying within their budget of $300,000. Although Keith showed Kelly and Lisa two earlier properties that were well within their budget, they ultimately decided to purchase the third and last restaurant, Hans’ Bakery, which was a bank-owned property listed for $49,000. The price of Hans’ may have been just right, especially since their purchase price was ultimately nearer $30,000, however the state of its interior was anything but; the kitchen at the bakery was overrun with uncleanliness, and Kelly and Lisa faced the daunting task of deep-cleaning it before opening day.
FN Dish checked in with Kelly a few weeks after filming to learn more about her decision to purchase Hans’ and to find out when her business is set to open. Read on below to hear from Kelly in her first exclusive interview after the show.
What will be the name of your new bakery, and when do you plan to open?
Kelly: We will reopen Hans’ Bakery under its original name, as a tribute to the man who made it into a local icon. Our grand opening date will be Feb. 22, 2014.
What was the most-influential factor in you choosing Hans’ Bakery over the neighborhood general store and the downtown cafe?
Kelly: There was never really a decision to be made; my heart was in the bakery that I went to as a child.
What has been your greatest struggle and greatest success as you work to open the bakery?
Kelly: Anytime you take on the remodel of a 60-year-old building there are bound to be a few surprises. The negative ones have caused us to open five months behind schedule, but the positive surprises have led to over 10,000 followers on our social media before we even open the doors.
So far, have you run into any trouble with the uncleanliness of the kitchen and dining room as you work on renovations (mold issues, broken appliances, etc.)?
Kelly: We were starting with a shell, which was absolutely filthy. Since all of the copper in the building had been stolen, we had to run a garden hose from a neighboring home just to get the place clean enough to even begin construction.
Are you sticking with Keith’s original design concept for the bakery? What kind of design updates do you plan to make?
Kelly: We are using Keith’s black, white and red color scheme; however, we did hire world-renowned local designer, Shea, Inc., to help us complete the vision. Our flooring is a resilient tile with a hand-scraped wood look and I personally sanded down the two main support beams to expose the raw Douglas fir.
What do you think will be the most-important design aspect of the bakery in order to achieve the mom-and-pop feel you’re hoping for?
Kelly: We have moved the original maple baker’s table into the dining room as a high-top community table and I enlisted my brother-in-law to custom-weld the steel base. (I could never have done this without the help of my family and friends!)
In terms of your menu, will you be serving mostly baked goods, or will you introduce savory options like sandwiches and salads, too?
Kelly: We will be serving baked goods as well as soups, salads and sandwiches using our freshly baked breads from Hans Birkner’s original recipes.
Do you plan to pursue a wholesale bakery business, as Keith suggested?
Kelly: The phone has been ringing off the hook from local restaurants, gas stations and other businesses who would like to carry our product. We will be developing our wholesale program over the next few months.
Who do you envision to be your typical customers (families, business people, wholesale operations, etc.)?
Kelly: I see the clientele being a nice mix of families, businesses and wholesalers. I am most excited about the people who tell me that going to Hans’ Bakery was a tradition in their family that they hope to continue with their children.
Kelly, so far has this business venture proved to be the reinvigoration of life you were hoping for?
Kelly: The process of bringing Hans’ Bakery back to life has been the most-rewarding accomplishment of my professional career. I can truly say that my blood, sweat and tears have gone into this project. I’m hoping the people who visit us will see the love that was poured into every decision.
What are you most looking forward to for your new restaurant?
Kelly: The thing I am most looking forward to when Hans’ Bakery reopens is seeing people lined up to get a taste of something from their past that they thought had been lost forever. You have no idea where your life will take you or how long you have to enjoy the people around you. You have to slow down and take the time to appreciate every moment.
Then, after nine months of planning and construction, I am looking forward to a nice long nap.