Michelle Kwan’s goal is to innovate and broaden Keefer Court’s customer base, while keeping the same family business feel that has kept its regular customers coming back for decades.
Walking into Keefer Court Café & Bakery in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is a satisfying, pleasurable barrage of the senses. The first thing one is likely to notice is the well-lit glass case filled to the brim with bakery treats. Depending on your familiarity with Chinese baked goods, you may or may not immediately recognize what you are seeing. Not to worry – owner Michelle Kwan and her team are more than happy to explain their products, share recommendations, and point out their favorites.
Michelle has been the official owner of Keefer Court for only about a year – but you wouldn’t know it talking to her. She knows this business inside and out, and it’s no surprise when she affectionately recalls ‘growing up’ in the business, previously owned by her mother and father. “Our family apartment was upstairs, and the bakery was my playground,” Michelle says with a smile. Her parents opened Keefer Court in 1983 and in 2018, her father began handing over the reins to the business making Michelle the official owner.
Although Michelle knew a lot about baking and Keefer Court, she knew she needed more training in general business skills, and that she needed to create a business plan. She found WomenVenture through the SBA, and quickly enrolled in the Small Business Essentials class. Michelle started to make small changes and updates to make the bakery and café her own. She started adding gluten free and vegan options to the menu to create a broader appeal, and she began thinking about how to market the business online, through social media and other channels.
Michelle’s goal is to innovate and broaden Keefer Court’s customer base, while keeping the same family business feel that has kept its regular customers coming back for decades. Currently, she employs about five people, and has dreams of expanding in the next five years. She’s happy to be implementing the things she learned at WomenVenture. She has her own data and budget sheets now, and she knows how to read them and ask for help when she needs it. “[The class] was a great confidence builder,” Michelle says. “I’m not feeling like I’m lost anymore!”
You can find Keefer Court and all its mouth-watering food choices at 326 Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis.