Bars Bakery is a bright little store front on Selby Avenue in St. Paul, MN. The simple, clean, modern design of the shop brings the focus to the baked goods carefully arranged on the counter. Caramel and cinnamon rolls, a variety of bars, scones, and cookies as well as savory pastries are deliciously displayed behind glass. The espresso machine shines in the background, a reminder to order coffee or tea to go with the pastries.
The bakery was started by the mother and daughter team of Sandy and Kara Youngkin. Sandy developed many of her recipes when she started and ran the Swede Hollow Café in East St Paul. She started the café because she wanted to work at a job she enjoyed. After eight years of successfully running the café, she wasn’t enjoying it any more and decided to sell it and take a break. The baked goods were one of the original café’s highlights and a couple of years before Bars opened, Sandy realized that a bakery would let her really focus on what she enjoyed about working with food. Kara agreed to go into business with her mom so that she could take on marketing and other aspects of the business while Sandy spent her time baking. No only do they get to do work they enjoy, but customers get equal enjoyment from the results of their labor.
They decided on bars because they are a classic Midwestern dessert that perhaps gets over looked in a world of cupcakes and cookies. Bars are typically made by home bakers for church picnics or bake sales but at this bakery they are refined and perfected. Congo bars with chocolate and coconut, fudgy brownies studded with pistachios and drizzled with caramel, and maple cashew bars thick with nuts are just a few that appear. Savory pastries and caramel rolls, that have been named the best in the Twin Cities, also appear daily on the bakery counter. The donut muffins, another favorite, have a slightly crisp cinnamon sugar outside and are soft and cakey in the center.
Along with the carefully crafted treats made with quality ingredients, Bars has a selection of coffee and tea from Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago. They offer espresso as well as individually brewed cups of coffee at their brew bar. The chai is a perfectly spiced and just sweet enough and their peppermint tea is an amazing blend of flavors.
Although the front of the bakery is a cozy size, they are lucky enough to have a full kitchen behind the scenes. This space is ideal for catering in addition to the daily baking of sweet and savory treats. Six months after they opened their doors, they are still getting a sense of what to bake each day, but they always have a selection of their most popular items. After a long snowy winter, Sandy and Kara are welcoming the arrival of spring when even more people will be out and about and visiting the bakery.
612 Selby Avenue
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102