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Woodland Avenue has a new restaurant. Vanilla Bean has expanded to its third location in the Mount Royal Shopping Center.
It all started after owner Jason Vincent went to eat at the restaurant that was previously in that location, and fell in love with the spot and neighborhood. After the previous restaurant went out of business someone approached him about moving into it. “Everything came together perfectly to make that happen,” he said.
The other two locations are a Vanilla Bean coffee shop in the Fitgers complex where Vincent also owns the Boat Club. Their original location is in Two Harbors, having opened in 1998. Vincent said they weren’t considering opening a third location but found the timing was perfect.
“People are very passionate about their businesses and neighborhood,” he said of Woodland. “We want to be passionate about being part of that and being part of that neighborhood.”
The Duluth location is similar to the Two Harbors spot. They are both full service restaurants with the similar menus. Duluth’s restaurant has a full bar with all Minnesota taps as well as Earth Rider and some unique cocktails. You can get coffee as well has some pastries and sandwiches to go.
“It’s got a lot of the same great entrees people have learned to love from Two Harbors,” Vincent said.
I stopped by to see it for myself. I was only interested in seeing the space and getting some coffee since it was earlier in the day. It was a bit confusing regarding whether I needed to wait for the host or I could just walk in. When I did eventually get to the counter to buy to-go items I had to stand there for a while before someone asked if I had been helped yet. I am not too concerned about the employees being a little disorganized considering how new this business is but it took a while to get me rung up. I wanted to sit for a minuet which was also confusing because this is a full service restaurant and a host is supposed to seat me but there was also a bar with stools so I sat there and people-watched for a bit. The coffee was excellent. It was the perfect temperature and creaminess.
This space is very cozy and warm feeling. The walls are all painted white and wood finishes, tables and chairs. There are glass vases on every table with fresh flowers in them. Only a few employees seemed fully confident with what they were supposed to be doing but I am sure the rest will get the hang of it in time. The customers seated at tables all seemed to be enjoying their time there and so was I.