Cookie Cart plans to open new bakery in early 2018


A June 29 groundbreaking ceremony celebrated the upcoming Cookie Cart location, at 946 Payne Ave. The new bakery is planned to open in February 2018. Marjorie Otto/Review

From left to right, Cookie Cart executive director Matt Halley, Cookie Cart employee Linda, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough and Ward 6 St. Paul City Council member Dan Bostrom helped to “break ground” on June 29. While work has already begun at 946 Payne Ave., the groundbreaking ceremony marked the last part of Cookie Carts capital campaign to raise $3.2 million for the renovation, purchase and start of the programming at the new Cookie Cart location. Marjorie Otto/Review

Cookie Cart decided to expand to the East Side after the success of their North Minneapolis location. This rendering shows what the building will look like when construction is finished. courtesy of U+B Architecture and Design

Cookie Cart is an organization that teaches youth, ages 15 through 18, skills for future employment like customer service, conflict management, financial literacy, and resume writing. courtesy of U+B Architecture and Design

The new bakery will include kitchen space to bake cookies and a cafe in the front, similar to the North Minneapolis location. courtesy of U+B Architecture and Design

Johnson teens already benefitting from organization

 

Cookie Cart is just a few months out from opening their new Payne Avenue location. The youth employment organization, which had its start in North Minneapolis, held a groundbreaking ceremony on June 29. 

The organization uses the baking and selling of cookies to prepare youth ages 15 through 18 for future employment. 

According to a press release, Cookie Cart was founded in 1988 by Sister Jean Thuerauf who, years earlier, had begun baking cookies with neighborhood teens, while also helping them with their homework in her North Minneapolis kitchen.

“The Cookie Cart bakery opening was the realization of her dream to provide a safe, secure, creative and engaging space for area teens,” the press release states.

While demolition work at 946 Payne Avenue has already begun, the groundbreaking marks the beginning of the public fundraising phase needed to raise the last $1 million toward the project. 

Overall the project costs $3.2 million, which includes the price of purchasing the 10,000-square-foot building, built in 1948, renovating it and operating the program for the first year.

The space will have a “Cookie Cafe” at the front of the shop, a kitchen for baking, classrooms, meeting space and storage for the baking ingredients.

Construction of the new bakery will begin in August and is expected to open in February, 2018.

 

Expanding to St. Paul 

“I cannot tell you how excited we are to be here today after years of planning,” said Cookie Cart executive director Matt Halley during the June 29 groundbreaking ceremony.

Halley said Cookie Cart began looking at locations on the East Side in 2013 to expand their bakery and youth programming. During the summer of 2015 Cookie Cart bought the building at 946 Payne Ave.

While Cookie Cart has been working with private donors for funding, they’ve already started building relations with East Side youth.

In January of 2016, Cookie Cart kicked off an after-school pilot program at Johnson High School where students learned about customer service, conflict management, financial literacy and resume writing while being paid minimum wage. They also had the chance to work weekend shifts at the Minneapolis Cookie Cart location. 

Between 2016 and 2017, 48 youth have gone through the pilot program at Johnson High School. They will be the first employees at the new bakery and will act as leaders for new, incoming youth.

 

Welcomed to the community

During the groundbreaking ceremony, St. Paul City Council member Dan Bostrom, who represents Ward 6, talked about how his first paid job was also on Payne Avenue, at Anderson Shoes, and the valuable skills he learned. He said a lot of kids aren’t learning what they need to in order to prepare for future jobs. 

“But there is Cookie Cart stepping up to help these youngsters prepare for the next step in their lives so when they walk into your business or another business, they look prepared for work,” Bostrom said. “That’s what I liked about [Cookie Cart].”

“We’re just delighted to have you in the neighborhood,” Bostrom said, adding, “Welcome to the neighborhood, we love ya!”

Jim McDonough, a Ramsey County Commissioner who represents the East Side, was also at the ceremony. He reiterated Bostrom’s sentiments. 

“Our East Side kids are our future,” he said. “We’ve got a lot going for us on the East Side. And every single piece adds to that vibrancy.”

Also at the groundbreaking, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said belief in children raises the level of expectations they have for themselves. 

 “Thanks to the tireless work of dozens of people we will soon begin to transform the old grocery store into a bakery that creates life changing opportunities for East Side teens,” Halley said.

 

- Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com

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