Photos by Eric Best

Soft serve shop replaces Empire Coffee off Broadway

Updated: April 13, 2018 - 3:48 pm

Minnesota Nice Cream gets a brick and mortar inside the Highlight Center

Edible glitter comes at no cost at Minnesota Nice Cream.

Instagrammable creations come out of the soft-serve ice cream parlor and café that recently replaced Empire Coffee & Pastry in the Highlight Center in Northeast Minneapolis.

IMG_3759 webOwner Katie Romanski launched the business two years ago as a food truck — the state’s only soft-serve food truck — serving made-to-order ice cream cones that are intentionally — and literally — over the top. The shop’s creations come topped with three optional additions, from homemade Puppy Chow and popcorn to Oreo cookie crumbles and fruit. Then glitter is sprinkled on top to give the desserts their sparkle.

Minnesota Nice Cream’s first brick-and-mortar location opened earlier this spring off Broadway Street Northeast in a retail space tucked away in the back of the Highlight Center near Able Seedhouse + Brewery. Northeast-based Empire had opened its second location there two years ago.

Inside, Minnesota Nice Cream has kept much of the coffee shop’s white, marble and gold look, as well as a 1,200-square-foot kitchen in the basement. The opening menu features vanilla, chocolate, swirl and a non-dairy ice cream, tie-dye and galaxy-colored waffle cones and about a dozen or so topping options. There’s also a signature creation menu with a selection of uniquely crafted ice cream cones, shakes, ice cream sandwiches and more.

Minnesota Nice Cream serves coffee from Twin Cities-based Bootstrap Coffee Roasters, along with beverages like a house coconut chai and matcha lattes. The cafe has kept a similar breakfast and lunch setup with pastries, sandwiches, paninis, soups, salads and smoothies.

The approximately 12-seat cafe, at 807 Broadway St. NE, is open 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 7 a.m.–8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Friday, noon–9 p.m. Saturday, and noon–8 p.m. Sunday.