It takes a person who is pretty serious about baking to get a rolling pin tattooed on his forearm. That would be Tony Friesen.
The son of a baker, Friesen worked on the corporate side of the food industry for 19 years before he opened Friesen’s Family Bakery & Bistro on North Riverfront Drive in Mankato. To hear him tell it, Friesen is almost a reluctant entrepreneur, with the decision to open a bakery coming only after several friends and community members suggested it. Repeatedly.
However, once the decision was made, Friesen jumped in with an approach that was so old-school is was almost revolutionary. Friesen’s would have no target demographic, just a devotion to quality food made with locally-sourced ingredients, a genuine appreciation for every customer who walked through the door, and the ability to cater immediately to what customers wanted.
More than three years later, Friesen’s is proof of how very effective that vintage approach can be. Quickly outgrowing their original space, Friesen’s has undergone a series of expansions over the last three years, and has expanded their range of products and services as well.
I’ve been a fan of Friesen’s almost since they opened, making sure to visit the shop at least a couple times when I was in Mankato for Minnesota Vikings Training Camp. This time I convinced Andy to join me as we talked with Friesen about how he’s built a better bakery on principles that prove everything old is new again.