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Local Flavor For The International Traveler

Minneapolis, Minn. — Travelers visiting the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport are now being tempted by home-cooked aromas from a pioneering Minnesota bakery.

French Meadow, a south Minneapolis cafe and bakery, opened a scaled-down airport version of its Lyndale Avenue restaurant in late April. “It’s a sweet little space,” company president and founder Lynn Gordon says of the 1,800 square-foot cafe on Concourse F, across from gate F-4.

“We’ve worked very hard to maintain the culture of our Lyndale space,” Gordon says. The airport French Meadow Cafe will offer the same menu, including organic and yeast-free breads, wraps, salads, homemade soups, grilled salmon with fresh organic greens and even organic oatmeal. About 75 percent of the menu will be delivered daily from the main kitchen; the rest will be made fresh on site. The cafe only seats18, but Gordon expects significant carry-out sales.

French Meadow Bakery is a natural-foods pioneer, particularly in organic and yeast-free breads. Founded 20 years ago as a small bakery, it now annually sells about four million loaves of bread sprouted tortillas, bagels, pizza crusts and Texas toast made at its 24,000 square-foot bakery in south Minneapolis. It opened the cafe on Lyndale Avenue in 1989.

“Lynn is good at marketing … they are very progressive in looking at new ideas and opportunities,” says AURI food scientist Charan Wadhawan. She helped Gordon develop several new products, including the functional-food Woman’s Bread and Men’s Bread with ingredients specially suited to each gender’s dietary needs.

Last year, Gordon was approached by Host International, an airport concessions provider, about opening a restaurant with local flavors. “They thought it would be a great fit for a new airport culture,” Gordon says.

“It’s an ambitious effort.” The atmosphere is European and eclectic, with a tribute to Minnesota’s agricultural heritage. One of the cafe’s walls is adorned with a red tractor painting.

In May, Gordon was named Minnesota’s Small Business Person of the Year, an annual award presented by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Minnesota office. The award recognized Gordon’s innovation, business growth and her community support. It is the first such award to a natural foods manufacturer.