Serving Good Real Food since 1995
At our heart, the Birchwood Cafe is about fostering community, revealing connections and inspiring gratitude.
We pride ourselves on offering something for everyone. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, omnivorous or all about the bacon, we have plenty of lovingly handcrafted dishes for you to enjoy. Our food is local, sustainable, organic food that makes you feel good. We take care to know the land, the animals and the people we work with and source from are treated with respect, and you'll taste that in the food. And because our menu changes with the seasons, there is always something new to try.
There's a lot in the Birchwood name. Established in 1926 by the Bursch family, the cafe was originally a dairy. In the 1940's, Cy and Del Bursch converted the dairy into a neighborhood grocery, which quickly became an essential part of neighborhood life. Food staples, penny candy and neighborhood news established the Birchwood as a favorite meeting place and after-school hangout.
In 1995, Cy and Del handed the Birchwood Store over to us and once again the Birchwood was reborn, this time as the Birchwood Cafe. Keeping the traditions of freshness and community alive, we made the Birchwood a friendly place to find good food and good people. Twenty-two years (and counting!) later, the Birchwood is not just for neighbors anymore. Now a popular destination, people drive from miles around to feel right at home.
Evolution of the Cafe
Over the past twenty years, the Birchwood has grown into a community of shared values. We sponsor a bike team, host screenings of films about food issues, ignite crop mobs to help in our farmers' fields, host "know your farmer" events, and work with the Minneapolis Public Schools' True Food Chef Council to provide fresh, healthy, local food in our public school cafeterias. We advocate for the labeling of genetically modified foods and the protection of pollinators, and we help raise funds for organizations that address HIV/AIDS, food justice, and climate change. Our cafe is a CSA drop site for eight farms. We work to make our operation environmentally sustainable by composting and recycling more than 90% of the cafe's waste and by using solar energy for part of our power.
By 2006 we were facing a real problem: the cafe was bursting at the seams. Our kitchen stretched into an offsite location and we had no storage. Our weekend brunch lines snaked out the door and the line for our single bathroom wasn’t much shorter. It was clear that this business, built on sustainability, was no longer sustainable. We had to grow.
We decided not to grow bigger but to grow better with energy efficiency, improved working conditions for staff, space for groups to gather. We wanted to support more local farmers, serve more Good Real Food, while retaining our intimate, neighborhood vibe.
In 2013, we launched a Kickstarter campaign to bridge the gap in our budget funded from more traditional sources. In 30 short days, we exceeded our goal and became the third-highest grossing restaurant Kickstarter campaign in the world. We received songs, poems, and stories. Oh the stories! One customer credits our food for his cancer recovery, others made sure to tell us of friends and lovers they met in line at the deli, of first dates that led to marriage, of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, and of gathering at the restaurant to plan trips around the world.
But none of this would be possible without the food. The food is what connects us to the things that matter and to each other. Our Good Real Food mission is realized each and every day of the week by our talented kitchen staff, led by our executive chef, Marshall Paulson. He is meticulous and mindful in sourcing ingredients, he makes time to visit the farms and he knows our purveyors and considers them all friends. He cooks and guides our staff with the utmost integrity. It’s because of Marshall that our menu is innovative yet accessible, elegant and affordable.
The best way to understand and address so many of the challenges we face today, is to gather and cook good local food. The choices we make have an impact on human lives, on animal lives and on the health of the planet. Local food systems are crucial to fixing our food mess. Instead of sourcing from economies of scale, weconsider economies of community. This is nothing new, it’s just returning to the way we used to eat. But it’s more important now than ever. So here's to Good Real Food, thanks for being a part of it!