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Duluth's Best Bread to open second location

The bakery-cafe in the heart of downtown is also growing its menu with inspiration from the owners' recent travels abroad.

Blacklist Brewery mural is visible in Duluth’s Best Bread building
Remnants of Blacklist Brewery, which has relocated, are still visible Monday in the second location of Duluth’s Best Bread.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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DULUTH — Brothers Michael and Robert Lillegard will return from a trip to Austria, where they gained knowledge of traditional bread making, in spite of a few added inches to their waistbands. They'll arrive home just in time for the official opening of Duluth's Best Bread 's second location, 120 E. Superior St., on Saturday at 6 a.m.

Folks walk by the new location of Duluth’s Best Bread at 120 E. Superior Street
Duluth’s Best Bread's second location at 120 E. Superior St.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

The building in Duluth's Historic Arts and Theater District was most recently home to Blacklist Brewing Co. , which relocated nearby to 206 E. Superior St. in June. Until July 2013, it was also the previous location of the infamous head shop, Last Place on Earth , that was shut down for illegal drug sales.

Attendees were offered drinks as they purchased product left over after the headshop was shut down in 2013.

"It's still a good place to get baked," Robert joked, adding: "We’ll probably do a 'Last Pastry On Earth' to pay homage to the site's history."

The need for a second location of Duluth's Best Bread became apparent during the pandemic shutdowns, Robert said. While restaurants and bars were required to close, the original Duluth's Best Bread at 2632 W. Third St. fared well since it was classified as an essential business, and considered more of a grocer than a restaurant with its retail bread sales.

Although their patrons were "kicked outside" for safety in 2020, Robert said their goods scratched an itch for those craving fancy baked items. So much so that they'd regularly sell out of menu staples like cinnamon rolls in the early morning — much to the dismay of their loyal customers, he said.

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"It shows that people do like us and we try to like them, too. You know, give back," Robert said.

On its 30th anniversary of selling coffee on the North Shore in Grand Marais, the Jorgensons retired. The year-round Java Moose location is unaffected.

In addition to the traditional handmade bread and good-humored owners it has become well-known for, the second location will offer specialty items such as the Crunchy Munchkin, a shortbread cookie with a granola crumble and lemon icing; the Nutella Croissant, also known as Jessquire; and the "It Depends On When Adam Gets Back To Us.” All are named in honor of $1,000 donors supporting the growing business.

Duluth’s Best Bread new location is at 120 E. Superior Street
Duluth’s Best Bread new location is at 120 E. Superior St., formerly home to Blacklist Brewing and Last Place on Earth.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Fresh baguettes, Top the Tater sandwich bread, and white sandwich bread will also join the menu. But don't expect gluten-free or keto-friendly options, according to its theme song, " Duluth's Best Bread Is Not a Chemistry Lab, " by Ryan Whyte Maloney, a contestant of the hit television series "The Voice."

Beverage options at the new location include a full line of coffee drinks, like the Duluth Latte made with real maple syrup and cinnamon, and a rotation of brewed coffee from Duluth Coffee Co. or a small family roaster called Parable Coffee.

IMG_6306.jpeg
Duluth's Best Bread held a soft opening of its second location Aug. 5. Pictured are employees Kallan Stedje-Schackman and Angel Helgemoe serving bread.
Contributed / Robert Lillegard

"People can order in German or French. Also, we have cheat sheets available to help you (and our staff) stumble through it. Have fun! Learn new things! Come up and proudly say, 'Bonjour! Un croissant, s’il vous plait?' (Hello! A croissant, please?) You can even pay in euros (1:1 exchange rate, change is given in dollars)," Robert said.

Other new items inspired by the owners' recent travels may be incorporated into the Duluth's Best Bread subscription boxes, Robert said.

IMG_6532.jpeg
On a recent family trip to Austria, Michael Lillegard and his wife, Christine Lillegard, order an abundance of bread after Michael said he was “just going to look in the window” of a bakery.
Contributed / Robert Lillegard

"Expanding a business is super stressful and can cause a lot of family tension. So this time in Austria, it was helpful to just be a normal family for a week again (albeit a family that speaks German and is obsessed with pretzels and cake)," said Robert. "We learn things from these trips that we put into practice. In 2019, we realized lemon croissants are really good (and did them for a subscription box). In 2020, we had pain au chocolat in California and decided to double the amount of chocolate we’re using in our own pain au chocolat."

The original Duluth's Best Bread location in the Lincoln Park neighborhood will continue operating as usual, with the exception of closing this Saturday for the new location's grand opening. The new location's hours are 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

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Kirsten Aune Textiles, Measure For Measure and Kristen Kaas Sewing & Textile Studio are collaboratively marketing themselves, all inspired by their related but unique talents.

Ten new employees have been added to operate the second bakery, with enough indoor seating for 70 people at the cafe.

"We’re growing fast. We went from 10 full-time employees in June to 16 full-time employees in August. I hear a lot about a supposed labor shortage, but we found there are plenty of people who want to work as long as you pay fairly and treat them fairly," Robert said.

Preparations are underway in the new location for Duluth’s Best Bread
Preparations are underway in the new location for Duluth’s Best Bread grand opening Aug. 27.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Meanwhile, the Lillegard brothers have been busy hauling and installing the new equipment for the expansion, Robert said.

"Michael made me help him carry two Hobart mixers in. It was just the two of us using lifting straps. Each mixer was 800 pounds. Then he asked me if I could help him stack the four new convection ovens. 'They’re lighter,' he said. It turns out they were 350 pounds each. So we’re getting in shape," Robert said.

For the most part, the remodeling of the newest location has been kept to a minimum. Robert's wife, Alicia, epoxied the floors for a week while he juggled a newborn, a preschooler and a first grader.

"We'll stick to making croissants and telling jokes. That's what we're good at," Robert said.

Brielle Bredsten is the business reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.

She earned a bachelor's degree in Professional Writing & Technical Communication, with minors in Advertising and Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University, in addition to a two-year professional paid internship as reporter/editor of the student newspaper.

She is an award-winning professional writer, photographer and editor based in rural Minnesota. Over the past decade, Brielle Bredsten has contributed more than 1,000 articles, feature stories, non-profit press-releases, photographs and columns. Her work has been published in several community newspapers.

Send her story tips, feedback or just say hi at bbredsten@duluthnews.com.
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