Dunn Brothers Coffee Pilots New Food Offerings

The first Provisions Bakery Cafe food items are available at a Minneapolis Dunn Brothers coffee shop-and four more locations are set to test the model and offer fresh foods later this fall.

Minneapolis-based Dunn Brothers Coffee, a national franchise that opened its first coffee shop in St. Paul in 1987, is expanding its food offerings through the launch of the Provisions Bakery Cafe brand.

The company opened its first in-store bakery last month at its 2544 Nicollet Avenue location in Minneapolis. Dunn Brothers plans to open four additional Provisions Bakery Cafes at existing stores later this fall-one in Lexington, two in downtown Minneapolis, and one in Addison, Texas.

Dunn Brothers Chief Financial Officer and President Kim Plahn told Twin Cities Business on Friday that Dunn Brothers locations featuring Provisions Bakery Cafes will be branded on the exterior and interior to inform customers of the additional offerings. The locations will feature small kitchens with ovens and baking racks displaying goods that are baked fresh each morning in the store, such as muffins, scones, Danishes, and pastries. Breakfast sandwiches are also available.

For lunch, Provisions Bakery Cafe will offer sandwiches on freshly baked breads with premium deli meats and cheeses, roasted vegetables, chicken salad, handmade sauces like wasabi horseradish and pesto aioli, sides including oven-baked French fries and coleslaw, salads, and other items, the company said. Menu items are available for dining in or take-out, and Dunn Brothers will also offer catering for its Provisions menu.

“It's about taking the same care and craft as roasting the coffee in our stores,” Plahn said. “We're really elevating that food experience to mirror what customers know on the coffee side.”

Traditional Dunn Brothers stores offer pastries, scones, and other small food items, but they aren't made in-store, according to Plahn.

Dunn Brothers said that it worked with a group of experienced chefs to develop the bakery menu; Plahn declined to disclose their names but said “they're renowned and very attuned to menu trends.”

Dunn Brothers' move into lunch and other expanded food offerings follows on the heels of other major coffee chains-like Brooklyn Center-based Caribou Coffee Company, which recently debuted grilled cheese sandwiches after seeing success with breakfast sandwiches. (Dunn Brothers' Provisions Bakery Cafe brand includes “Not Your Mom's Grilled Cheese”-which features five cheeses, roasted vegetables, and pesto aioli.)

The company appears to be attempting to differentiate its approach to food service from some competitors: Dunn Brothers CEO Chris Eilers said in a statement that the Provisions menu items are “hand-made, right in front of the customer, unlike most coffeehouse chains, which rely on frozen or pre-packaged fare that is delivered to the store.”

The company said in a news release that the initial run of Provisions stores “are designed to prove the model, with the ultimate goal of expanding the Provisions Bakery Cafe to benefit Dunn Brothers' system of franchisees” throughout the country.Plahn said Dunn Brothers' launch of Provisions Bakery Cafe is in its “test phase,” and the company will look at expanding the food offerings beyond the five pilot locations in spring or summer of next year.

When asked why entering a new line of business seemed lucrative at this time, Plahn said, “We really looked at it as an expansion of our current business, and our goal was to allow franchisees to expand offerings and get revenue up.” She also said that the company hopes the move will attract new customers beyond “the traditional morning coffee rush.”

There are approximately 85 Dunn Brothers locations in nine states; three are corporate-owned and the rest are owned by franchisees.