Minnetonka residents are about to use the word “yum” a lot more frequently—and not just because it’s the name of a new restaurant opening on Shady Oak Road.
Patti Soskin, owner of Yum! Kitchen and Bakery in St. Louis Park, has expanded her 10-year-old restaurant to a new Minnetonka location that opened in September. The move comes primarily in an effort to offer more opportunities to her long-standing employees. Her key management team has more or less stayed the same since the restaurant’s infancy, and this move will allow the whole team to grow.
“I have employees who have been with us since day one,” Soskin says. “We have a great team of people and I really wanted to do this to give them more opportunity.” The new location not only offers opportunities to current employees, but it also expands Yum’s reach, with the employee count doubling to nearly 120 to staff the new location.
The new restaurant has many of the same characteristics as the flagship St. Louis Park shop—even familiar faces, Soskin says, as many of Yum’s regulars come from the western suburbs. The menu is another aspect that looks and feels familiar (think lobster mac and cheese, tarragon chicken salad and Hugo’s Baja mahi tacos, not to mention the pastries). Soskin and her team change portions of the menu weekly to take advantage of fresh, seasonal ingredients, but they also stick to what they know works.
What’s different about the new restaurant is its ability to accommodate larger crowds, with more than 80 seats on the patio compared to St. Louis Park’s more than 20. Minnetonka’s patio is also home to a fire pit table seating 12 to 14, something Soskin hopes will encourage a fun neighborhood feel.
That neighborhood feel contributes to Yum’s hard-to-miss community vibe. The team makes a point to get to know each customer when they enter the space. Soskin can barely make her way past three tables without greeting a familiar face.
“I love knowing everyone’s story,” Soskin says. “I have women who came in here when they were pregnant 10 years ago and they have 10-year-old children now.”
Her staff shares her attitude. “Lobster club with fruit?” chef Mike Grossman, from the St. Louis Park location, says as he comes to sit down with me. He served me about an hour earlier, but has somehow remembered my order.
Grossman has been at Yum! since the beginning, as has Hugo Moran, the chef at the Minnetonka location. For Grossman, the new Minnetonka location marks an exciting opportunity in which he now oversees both restaurants. From creating exceptional dishes to supporting the staff in both places, Grossman’s focus is on quality and taste experience.
“A good sandwich starts with the bread,” Grossman says referring to the restaurant’s bread bakers, who come in late in the evening and work until 4 a.m. The pastry chefs then cycle in, he explains, followed by the rest of the crew as the 24-hour revolving door spins at Yum.
Taste, quality and value are high on Soskin’s list, a big reason everything is made in-house. This attention to detail for every item that makes its way to the plate is what makes Yum! Kitchen and Bakery stand out. From take-out meals to wedding cakes, the blue boxes flying out the door have become a sort of trademark for the brand, which is now making its mark on Minnetonka.