French Meadow adding bar, patio

As the French Meadow Bakery expands to Grand Avenue in St. Paul, the restaurant is also renovating its Lyndale home to add a bar and patio.

“I’m nervous,” said Founder Lynn Gordon. “We’re pretty conservative, we don’t like change.”

When French Meadow’s organic bakery — the first in the country — moved to Eagan  several years ago, the restaurant was left with 5,000-square-feet of dead space. Staff has finally decided to expand into the space in a renovation set to be complete March 15.

The café is building new bathrooms and opening a room for private parties and wine tastings, featuring garage doors that open up to a new patio. French Meadow has relocated its dumpsters to create a front patio that will open next spring.

Gordon said the expansion will remove the “ugly print fabric” that covered the original window where staff made pastries and baked bread.

“I used to make cake from that window,” she said.

Gordon said she is fielding lots of calls about the new French Meadow location at 1662-66 Grand Ave., formerly the Coffee News Café and Coat of Many Colors store. 

French Meadow decided to move into St. Paul at the invitation of Macalester College, which owns the building. The new cafe will include a bar, patio, and French Meadow’s trademark green paint job and black awning. The menu will be similar to Lyndale, with a casual daytime atmosphere and evening table service.

In contrast to Lyndale’s original rehab of Small Engine City on Lyndale, Gordon is finding reusable treasures in St. Paul, even cherry woods in the basement.

“This building is absolutely amazing,” Gordon said. “There are red firebrick walls from the 1900s we’re discovering under the sheetrock.”