Since announcing in December that his bakery was moving to a new location in Nokomis, Asa Diebolt has spent every day fielding variations of the same question: When?
"We've been in here painting and working and stuff, and people are constantly walking by and peering through the windows and asking us questions, or even just applauding," the Asa's Bakery baker and owner says. (To his point, less than a minute later, we catch a pair of curious eyes on us through one of the wide front windows.) "I think people are excited. It feels very welcoming."
Diebolt's namesake bakery got its start out of a small shared kitchen space on Chicago Avenue several years ago, when he started selling an alliterative list of doughy delicacies—bread, bagels, bialys—at area farmers' markets. Asa's was (and is) one of the few places around where you could find a bialy, a chewy, onion-filled, bagel-adjacent baked good that, while popular in New York, is on the verge of becoming extinct.
The first storefront, which Asa's occupied for these last two years, was also shared with a catering company. "It was their lease, even though it had my sign across the front of it," Diebolt says. "And we kind of outgrew it within the first couple of months." The goal was always to have a space of his own, and after looking for a year (and wondering if such a space would ever reveal itself) he found one at 5011 34th Ave. S. in Minneapolis.
The move will let Asa's Bakery do more; this is the first time Diebolt has been able to access the space whenever he wants and set everything up how he wants. That means you can expect more "pastry-type things" than they were doing before—good news for the sweet-over-savory crowd.
They'll open with a menu that's just a little bit bigger than what they were doing pre-pandemic, with smoked whitefish salad sandwiches, lox and bagels, seasonal cream cheeses, and a rotating cast of sourdough breads. Eventually he'd love to expand the menu, maybe adding some fermented and cured specialties, but that'll be a future project.
(So too will be the option to dine in. "I can't wait until there are people sitting in those booths with their bagels and coffee, you know? But it'll be a little while.")
With some help from friends and family, Diebolt has already transformed the bones of the space and added some funky flourishes. A neon bagel—based on a doodle from his mom—adorns the wall behind the counter. On the opposite wall, a trio of booths (snagged at auction for $11) are positioned under the sign from the bakery's old home. The mirror on the rear wall came from a ballroom on Nicollet Avenue that was torn down in the '70s; it's been in his landlord's basement for ages.
The new location is a nice fit too, located in an area with a decent amount of foot traffic that's close to Lake Nokomis and not far from the falls. "I was joking with a friend who takes her dog there frequently that I'm going to sponsor her dog, get an Asa's Bakery shirt for the dog park, and try and insinuate ourselves into people's dog-walk weekend plans," Diebolt chuckles.
As for that initial when? At this point, he says they're shooting for "as soon as possible," hopefully mid-February.
Hang in there, bialy-hungry window watchers of Minneapolis.