Have you come to appreciate the simple things in life yet? Like going to a movie? Or, being waited on at your favorite eating establishment? I am aching to give them business though admittedly it’s for selfish reasons–I want to feel normal again!
So as we ever so slowly come back to life, I decided to walk across the street from my law office to visit a quaint, artistic Anoka hotspot to see how they have weathered the pandemic—Truffles & Tortes.
When one enters here you immediately notice two things—the smallness of the space and its absolutely stunning decor. Seating capacity, even prior to the pandemic, was only about twenty. So, if you had the privilege of getting a table and eating here, count your blessings. Ten-foot-high gold imprinted metal ceilings held up by 100-year-old shellacked tan colored brick walls grab your immediate attention. Crystal looking chandeliers hang from the ceiling. A large mural, hand painted by a former employee still in high school, occupies one entire wall. At your feet are worn wooden floors appearing to be just as old as the brick walls but Rhonda Seibert assures me they are not. “Yeah, they are not original,” she says as she looks at the floor, “they will be next to get touched up.” So says the owner of Truffles & Tortes. We are seated on newly upholstered chairs. Projects are clearly underway during COVID-19.
Rhonda Seibert is of the age that many might consider retiring but not her. She still has goals, aspirations and most importantly, energy for the tasks that lay ahead. I see a face that tells of wisdom gained through the experiences of life though COVID-19 will heap a decade of such experiences into one season. Her look is stern, like a seasoned warrior. But I keep seeing a glint in her eyes that seems to smile. She enjoys her work!
“So, you must have hired out to get this place so warmly decorated?” I ask. She is matter-of-fact in her reply but releases an ever so subtle smile: “No, I designed it.”
Truffles & Tortes began in 1999, catering to Twin Cities hotels, restaurants and even catering companies, supplying, in one instance, Grandview Lodge with 100+ cakes for a special event. “And they were the large cakes,” Rhonda added. From that she opened a retail store in Plymouth in 2003 and in November 2008, Rhonda converted a rag tag space into the talk of Anoka — Truffles & Tortes, the dessert café, was born. The place has been bustling since, that is, until COVID-19. People came here for the desserts but stayed for the food. Desserts like Chocolate Nirvana and Bailey’s Irish Cream Torte. Food like “country ham with cheddar cheese and caramelized onions”, or homemade chicken salad.
“What makes Truffles & Tortes so unique, so different from your competitors?” I ask. Rhonda is certain of her response and it comes quickly. “We make everything from scratch. Homemade. We don’t use imitation ingredients.” “So, are your recipes proprietary?” I ask. “Oh, yes.” No wonder she has been featured in the past on Jason Davis’ “On the Road” program and her chef, Jamie Miller, has appeared on the Food Network several times.
When asked about the COVID-19 fallout on her business, Rhonda’s expression hardly changes. She is one tough lady: “Yes, it has really affected us. I had to lay off half my staff and cut our hours in half. Down to eight employees now. I’m only taking takeout & curbside orders right now because with the limitations on indoor seating it’s not worth taking reservations and monitoring everything for a few tables.”
So sad. This gem, this must-go-to dining establishment, struggling as many in the industry to survive.
I leave Rhonda with one final question hoping how I phrase it truly represents the residents of the Anoka community. “You know, I believe people around here truly see the value of places like yours and are concerned about it surviving during a pandemic. How could area residents show support for your business?”
In her now characteristic fashion, looking me directly in the eye, speaking quickly but with that ever-present glint, she says: “Buy gift cards and e-gift cards.”
Buy a gift to sustain a gift.
Sounds like a plan. Truffles and Tortes is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.