Two months remain in the Wedge Co-op’s extensive $4.5 million remodel, which adds indoor seating, more space for produce and made-to-order foods along the perimeter of the store.
The Wedge now has a bakehouse, and workers are arriving at midnight to make loaves and croissants from scratch. The produce section, when completed, will expand to the back wall.
The bulk section is now expanded to include products like cashew butter hemp granola, Atlantic kelp and 32 bean & 8 vegetable soup. Customers can crunch raw peanuts into peanut butter at the store, yielding a fresh product without additives and without sugar.
“It’s some of the freshest bulk I think in the city,” said Jessica Pierce, director of brand marketing. “We go through product so quickly it truly is the freshest.”
The meat and seafood departments are redone with entirely local poultry and expanded seafood from vendors like Dave Ragotzke, who fishes for salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
The new deli area offers meat that is hormone and antibiotic free.
“This is one of the things people have been itching to have,” Pierce said.
Made-to-order foods include pizza on locally-made naan from the Artisan Naan Bakery.
There is a new juice bar and coffee bar serving Kickapoo coffee. A new salad bar — another top customer request — will offer organic Wedge-made salads and soups and baguettes.
A second entrance at the south end of the building will cater to bikers and walkers who want to avoid the congested parking lot entrance.
Staff created more breathing room in the co-op by moving the commissary kitchen over to Wedge Table on Nicollet. The 10-month remodel is slated to be complete in late October.
“We wanted to make sure we stayed open during construction,” Pierce said. “We’ve only had to close twice.”
Co-op members can now vote on the possibility of merging with the Linden Hills Co-op and Eastside Food Co-op. Each co-op will vote independently. If adopted, the merger would create a single organization with 32,000 members and $75 million in sales. The voting period (voting can take place online, by mail or at the Wedge annual meeting) ends Oct. 18.
In the Voters’ Guide, the three co-op general managers said they are facing competition in the natural foods industry, as conventional grocers increasingly carry products co-ops have carried for decades. The managers said coordination would help reduce waste, increase profitability and improve buying power on everything from employee health care to grocery products. No employees would be laid off as a result of a merger, they said.