The Buttered Tin Offers Breakfast and More in Lowertown

A Lowertown favorite offers an updated take on American breakfast classics.
Alicia Hinze, left, and Jen Lueck at The Buttered Tin in Lowertown.

If you ever find yourself debating with friends or family where to meet for brunch, search no more. The Buttered Tin, TBT for short, offers American breakfast classics made in a fresh, homemade and updated way. With a menu that offers a combination of bakery and savory options, anyone can find their new regular order.

Co-owners Jen Lueck and Alicia Hinze have served breakfast classics, such as the popular Damn Good egg sandwich ($10.95) and huevos rancheros Benedict ($10.95), out of their Lowertown location since June 2013. Of the food, Hinze says, “It’s like what you would get at your grandmother’s house, but much, much better.”

These business partners and breakfast lovers complement each other well. Lueck has more than 20 years of restaurant industry experience, ranging from serving in the front of the house to consulting with others interested in opening or marketing a restaurant. Hinze brings a formal pastry school education, back-of-house experience as a pastry chef and experience marketing a bakery.

Before opening The Buttered Tin, Hinze managed catering, sales and marketing at Cupcake in Minneapolis. During this time, she competed with Cupcake’s Kevin VanDeraa on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, finishing as runners up in the third season and winning the fourth season.    Hinze says the show exposed her to a new world of competitive baking, which she describes simply as “intense.” Cupcake Wars, Hinze says, improved her ability to improvise in the bakery. “If something goes wrong … you have to troubleshoot, and you have to troubleshoot fast,” she says of her experience, which prepared her to respond to unexpected issues that arise regularly in the restaurant.

Lueck and Hinze met through a family connection, but their business partnership started when Hinze asked Lueck for advice about how to market a bakery. Hinze had received an offer to buy an existing café-bakery, but knew that running both a café and bakery would be too much to manage on her own. Lueck, who always dreamed of opening a restaurant, suggested they collaborate and purchase the business together. When that opportunity fell through, Hinze and Lueck decided to establish their own café-bakery instead.

“Breakfast was always on my radar,” Lueck says, but Hinze initially imagined opening a boutique-like bakery with a separate breakfast restaurant. Ultimately the two visions merged, and The Buttered Tin was born.

Though Lueck and Hinze are co-owners and collaborate in all areas of the business, Lueck is quick to point out that “it’s the staff and our managers who make it possible for The Buttered Tin to run.” Their team includes chef fraiche (the kitchen manager and chef) Peter Domenick, kitchen and bakery teams, managers and serving staff. Hinze agrees, saying, “We have been blessed with such a wonderful staff. They care so much about the concept.”

Lueck, a Saint Paul native, and Hinze, who lives in Saint Paul, never considered opening the restaurant outside the city. Lueck says their location is ideal, and many in the neighborhood would agree. The bright interior of the space and comfortable indoor and outdoor seating give the restaurant an easy, relaxed feeling. The Buttered Tin’s service and food have drawn the attention of regulars, something Lueck always hoped for in a restaurant. “We’re the corner bakery-café, and we live in an area where our neighbors will come twice a day,” Lueck says.

Since much of the restaurant’s food is locally sourced, the menu is influenced by the availability of in-season produce. For instance, ingredients in The Buttered Tin hash ($11.95) change seasonally; other items including the soft scramble ($9.95), loaded hash browns ($10.95) and breakfast hot dish ($9.95) change daily. “We’re very thoughtful about our ingredients,” Lueck says. “We get our eggs locally and our pork locally and as much as we can locally. I think people taste the difference.”

The Buttered Tin offers breakfast and bakery goods every day from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. These hours stem from more than Lueck and Hinze’s shared love of breakfast foods: Lueck explains that they debated before opening whether or not to serve dinner, and decided to start with breakfast and lunch, and add dinner later if it seemed appropriate. Now, they are happy to serve only breakfast and lunch, as their hours give them and their staff the ability to have a work-life balance.
237 7th St. E.; 651.224.2300

Q&A at TBT:

What’s your can’t-miss menu item?
JL: Damn Good egg sandwich.
AH: Huevos rancheros Benedict.

How do you like your eggs?

JL: Poached.
AH: Over medium.

What’s your favorite bakery item?
JL: Lemon cupcake.
AH: Almond Kiss cupcake.