MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is morning, and Danielle Bjorling is at the pastry station. A swirl here, a dollop there, putting the cakes in Danielle and her husband Chris’ restaurant, Copper Hen Cakery and Kitchen.
“I think there were a lot of bumps in the beginning, with us being first time restauranteurs. We’ve really found our feet 3-and-a-half years in,” Danielle said.
She was working as a nanny; he as a CPA. They were young and felt they could take a chance on opening a bakery with booze. In 2014, On Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, also known as Eat Street, she saw a future in an abandoned mess of a space.
“I walked in and saw the bones of it, and saw what it could be. I just started crying. Chris was on a work trip, I called and said ‘this is the space,'” she said.
Today, the Copper Hen is lovely: eminently Instagrammable with adorable wallpaper, and rustic homey touches everywhere. Danielle designed the entire restaurant.
“You want your atmosphere to be cozy, charming, rustic; the reality is we couldn’t afford a designer when it opened. You see a lot of the passion,” Chris said.
“I’m actually glad we didn’t [have a designer],” she explained. “I felt like what I was delivering in cake form, was translating in design form, and I was able to bring it together.”
The original concept was to use Danielle’s love for baking — her first job was as an assistant baker at Lunds & Byerly’s at age 15 — and combine that with a wine bar/alcohol component. A dessert bar, if you will. But Minneapolis law requires people with a liquor license to sell food, cupcakes and desserts aren’t enough.
“Do we want to bring full circle, or drop the booze and just do cakes. We couldn’t drop the booze. So we brought it full circle,” said Danielle.
They added food, graduated from a counter service model to a full-service model with servers.
“It was painful at the beginning. It’s like having a child. Sleepness nights. Issues. Discipline things. Once they grew up a bit you’re like, ooh, it was worth it,” Chris explained.
Today, head chef Josh Hedquist has elevated their food focusing on locally grown ingredients. Trust me: his chicken is as beautiful as the rest of this place. And success in the restaurant has led to a brand new cookbook with 120 recipes, including brunch favorites like the brioche cinnamon rolls, appetizers like bourbon poutine, creamed kale dip, the smoked trout cakes, and entrees like chicken pot pie, harissa steak, and the baked mac and cheese.
“We feel this is something we’ll pass down to other generations. This is our heirloom piece,” Danielle said.
It’s quite an accomplishment for these first-time restauranteurs.
“The thing I take most pride in: memories you make here,” said Chris. “When you step back and see Instagram posts and see people celebrating their birthday, getting engaged, we have really impacted people in a positive way by providing a space where they can make memories.”
“They look at our chandelier and say, I want to get married here. That, to me, makes my heart swell,” Danielle said.
The launch party for The Copper Hen Cookbook will be Sunday, November 12 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., ticket information for the party or to preorder the cookbook, click here.
Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen
2515 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis MN
Tue-Thur 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Fri 9 a.m. –11 p.m.
Sat 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sun 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.