Next-Level Locavore: What’s Inside Keg and Case Market?

New dining and retail hub Keg and Case Market is the talk of St. Paul—and Minnesota

An aerial shot of Keg and Case Market.
West Seventh has a new feature attraction in Keg and Case Market

photo by geoff george


Inside the walls of the Schmidt Brewery’s old keg house, an aesthetic and cultural transformation has taken place. Keg and Case Market on West Seventh Street bravely embodies a vision of our state’s brick-and-mortar retail future. And that’s the original brick, if anyone’s asking.

Embracing similar concepts found in trend-forward neighborhoods of Seattle and San Francisco, Keg and Case combines reclaimed warehouse chic, innovative regional entrepreneurship, and the quick-swipe gratification of our social media feeds. The market’s layout of 23 businesses is an invitation to sample, wander, mix, and match. Walls are kept to a minimum in here, and each booth’s eye-catching features are refreshing turns away from the uniformity of big-box and corporate shopping experiences.

The vintage-style couches at Clutch Brewing Co. are ideal vantage points to watch the hubbub of activity in the stalls below. Among the curiosities to scan are a massive hearth fire-roasting the meals at In Bloom restaurant, bees building a hive at Worker B, and a chamber of mushrooms growing under flashing LEDs at Forest to Fork.

Forest to Fork's glass chamber grows a variety of mushrooms to keep the stock on-site as fresh as possible.
Forest to Fork’s glass chamber grows a variety of mushrooms to keep the stock on-site as fresh as possible

photo by darrin kamnetz


“The optics are phenomenal,” Keg and Case’s St. Paul-based developer Craig Cohen raves, regarding Forest to Fork. “It’s an art piece that produces 600 or 700 pounds of mushrooms a week.”

After purchasing the property in 2014 and leading an extensive restoration, Cohen admits that getting to this point was difficult. The Schmidt Brewery (which had its main brewery building recently turned into the Schmidt Artist Lofts) is an historic site, so key approvals along the way involved city, state, and national governing bodies to sign off. And even after the space’s grand opening in mid-September, he is juggling a flurry of messages on a pair of cell phones in between answering questions.

But he’s proud to see that what sits before him is a cooperative, reciprocal situation for the businesses. “It’s not just a landlord-tenant ‘let’s sign an agreement and call it a day’ environment,” he says. “We were trying to create something bigger than ourselves or any one of them individually. To finance something like this is not easy, especially with no big-box retailer or big chain restaurant.”

Diversity, sustainability, and creativity are all at play within this year-round attraction, which also boasts outdoor space capable of hosting dining, markets, concerts, and ice-skating in the winter. It’s not surprising that the brands within the building are already partnering up. A K’nack sandwich combines its own meat products with Rose Street Patisserie bread, Sweet Science’s honey ice cream comes from Worker B’s stock, and the Forest to Fork mushrooms are showing up on the menu at In Bloom.

An overview of the shops found within Keg and Case Market.

photo by darrin kamnetz


Even with Keg and Case open, Cohen’s work is far from done. Across the street, the original Schmidt Brewery’s below-ground rathskeller—which means basement bar or restaurant, in German—is undergoing restoration, and more businesses to complement Keg and Case are on the way above it. Expect a full-service Rose Street Patisserie café, a Worker B spa concept, and more in the early part of 2019.

“I am in awe,” Cohen says, visibly moved. “I’m humbled by how it’s been received by people, and the way they’ve rallied around us. Opening day, watching crowds pouring in, I saw the biggest smiles from our partners. To see them elated and making money—they took a risk, and they’ll have a sustainable life as a result—that’s my favorite thing.”


What’s Inside Keg and Case?

Dining

Corner Table and Revival restauranteurs’ latest projects: In Bloom, featuring enormous hearth for wood-fired, locally sourced dishes, and barbecue eatery Revival Smoked Meats. Gazta & Enhancements, a stylish cheese bar from minds behind the O’Cheeze and Dough Dough food trucks. Eat in or take out Wandering Kitchen’s pre-made farm-to-table meals. Coming soon: MN Slice pizza, and Pimento Jamaican Kitchen.

Sweet Science Ice Cream

photo by Dustin Black


Treats

Adventurous flavors abound at Spinning Wylde’s cotton candy, upscale confections from Rose Street Patisserie, Sweet Science Ice Cream, House of Halva’s Turkish delights, and the mouth-watering Bogart’s Doughnut Co.

Drinks

On the mezzanine level, Clutch Brewing Co. combines imaginative beers and people-watching, or get creatively caffeinated at Five Watt Coffee’s third Twin Cities shop. Sip Green Bee Juicery’s fresh blends, or Hobby Farmer Canning Company’s fizzy, flavorful switchel.

Specialties

Forest to Fork’s mushrooms grow in a lit-up chamber on site, smoked and cured meats by the pound at K’nack, Barkley’s Bistro’s treats for dog royalty, Croix Valley sauces and seasonings, Evla Pottery’s local ceramics and paintings, HandMod’s reclaimed wood crafts, flower arrangements by Studio Emme, and Worker B’s bee-created skincare products, honey, and candles.

More information on Keg and Case Market.


Digital Extra: BBQ. Doughnuts. Beer.

Cotton candy, too! Look behind the scenes of the opening of Keg and Case Market in St. Paul’s West Seventh neighborhood.

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