Amazing Grace to Become Canal Park’s First Grocery Store and Cafe
The longstanding bakery and cafe is doing a total overhaul, changing what it offers to the area.
DULUTH, Minn.- The bakery and cafe that has sat in the basement of the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace for 25 years is not only getting a makeover, but a do-over — from a bakery to a grocery store.
“Changing with the times you have to just, you can’t dig in your heels cause then those are the places that don’t survive,” said Connor Riley.
Amazing Grace Bakery and Cafe has been closed for over two months, with about 30 employees laid off during the pandemic. “It was rough,” said Riley, the owner.
He said he knew that if his business continued as is, it wouldn’t survive.
“The margins are super thin and so even at 50% it’s hard to try and meet that. And then outdoor dining is not, today it’s a 20 mph wind and it’s freezing cold,” said Riley.
So he decided to start with a clean slate. “It’s been kind of like switching from restaurant brain to grocery store brain.”
The Bakery and Cafe will reopen Amazing Grace Grocery and Cafe.
While the pastel-colored outdoor seating will remain along with some indoor seating, most of the interior will completely change.
“We’ll have kind of a little bar area and a little kind of a little another bar over here in the corner that we’re standing in,” Riley said, “and then behind us is going to be a couple check out areas and then the rest of it’s going to be grocery store.”
Construction is being taken care of entirely by Riley and his friends and family. Even his young son helped scrape off the existing tile. Right now Riley expects it to be done this month, with the cafe and breakfast area open the beginning of July, and the grocery store the beginning of August.
The small basement cafe will soon house freezers and aisles full of essentials, some higher-end items, and some old fresh-made favorites.
“Produce, the eggs, dairy, probably some meats,” said the owner. “We’re going to have a little grab-and-go kind of area with our own — bringing back a lot of old recipes that we’ve had for the last 25 years here — y’know hummuses, pestos, other salads.”
This will be the first grocery store to set up shop in the more tourist-themed Canal Park. Good news to those who work there or live nearby, as Riley said he’s heard.
“They work in the building and said it’ is exactly what we want down in Canal Park cause we, like, live here, we work here, how nice would it be to be able to shop down here as well?,” he said.
This could also mean a lot for Park Point residents, who right now have to travel all the way to Hillside for the nearest grocery store.
“Stuff that people will need that are visiting, stuff that people need that live in Park Point, and hopefully stuff that people would desire that live in the Greater Duluth area,” said Riley.
The area might have to start adapting as well, the Amazing Grace owner said, since COVID-19 has left the future of summer tourism in Canal Park looking bleak.
“It’s weird to look out in mid-June and look across the street and see that most of the hotels, they’re not full like they usually are,” Riley said. “And we don’t have Grandma’s Marathon, y’know everything’s cancelled.”
He hopes converting into a grocery store will not only help boost Canal Park, but connect it.
“Amazing Grace has been part of the community forever and having this kind of grocery store to bring that community hopefully even closer, I think that’ll be pretty cool,” he said.