Gourmet dessert business is a sweet success
A lot has happened since the MSR last spoke to local social entrepreneur Lutunji Abram. For starters, her shop, Lutunji’s Palate Bakery and Cafe, is set to open in South Minneapolis soon. The popular gourmet dessert business is flourishing with sweet success. “My trademark is the peach cobbler,” Abram explained.
Abram’s background spans both sides of the river: “I was born in St. Paul and raised in North Minneapolis.” She graduated from North High School, Metropolitan State University, and Bethel University (Class of 2009).
The choice to begin a dessert company wasn’t in her initial plans. The love for baking was inherited from the matriarchs in her family: “I’m a fourth-generation baker—I’m proud to say that.
“That entrepreneur spirit comes from within my family as well. And actually, my master’s is in organizational leadership with emphasis on education. The goal is to open a teen charter school for moms and dads.”
Before Abram created her gourmet dessert business, she wanted to focus on launching a charter school geared toward helping teen parents. To that end, she founded Voices of Effective Change in 2003. “I went to meet with a pastor [Jeff Cowmeadow] at Calvary Church in South Minneapolis,” Abram recalled.
During the meeting “I took the gourmet treats, in particular my peach cobbler, and he was eating the cobbler while we’re talking about how the GED program is going to shape up, and how it’s going to come together, and right in the middle of the meeting he stopped.”
To her surprise, the pastor informed Abram that she should be selling her peach cobbler at their farmer’s market. He offered the church’s commercial kitchen so she could launch the business. She was amazed and extremely grateful for this generous support.
Abram said, “My highest power inspired me to start it—I was led to speak, to meet with that pastor thinking I was starting a GED program for teen moms but ended up starting a bakery company first.” She registered her famous gourmet dessert business years later in 2018.
Business can be very challenging at times, Abrams pointed out. Attitude is everything. “We just have to continue to walk in love and keep pushing—believe in knowing that our higher power has us,” she advised.
Although business is growing with success at a rapid rate, Abram expressed the resistance she’s encountered thus far. She mentioned that her social media networks have been compromised. “My accounts were hacked, a bunch of trolls and haters got together—I’ve triumphed over all of it,” she said.
Like many local small businesses, she has found it difficult acquiring the necessary funding to sustain business operations. But Abram has a spirit of resilience and great strength. “I went to a community organization for my loan, and it was beyond the definition of nuts,” she said. However, she didn’t give up.
Abram pushed forward and gained support from Fortis Capital, located “in the outskirts of downtown Minneapolis.” The unforeseen obstacles led her to a path of financial prosperity: “That hate turned into love.” She’s appreciative of those who stepped up to show support.
Customers can expect an array of “very unique gourmet treats,” Abram said. The desserts range from Harriet’s Escape Peach Cobbler, Harriet’s Escape Vegan Peach Cobbler, Dr. Thomas Adam’s Philosophy Pecan Cobbler, Exquisite Nicksology Macaroons, The King’s Coconut Cake Bites, The Trinity Experience Peanut Butter Fig Cookies, TuTu’s Apple’licious Apple Cobbler, and Momma Taught Me Well Lemon Pound Cakes.
The flavorful products can be found at various locations throughout the Twin Cities: Handsome Hog, Northeast Farmer’s Market, MinnyRow Market, Pimento Kitchen, Seasoned Speciality Food Market, Minneapolis Farmers Market Annex, The Gnome Craft Pub, North Market, and Lunds & Byerlys locations (downtown Mpls, Northeast, Uptown, Nokomis and Golden Valley).
Important to note: “Every scrumptious bite of Lutunji’s Palate Gourmet Cakes, cobblers and more contributes to youth development, teen parental support, and transition assistance for men returning to society from incarceration, providing the space, education, resources and experience they need to grow and thrive,” according to the website.
Abram shared words of inspiration for youth and aspiring entrepreneurs. She said, “Look at yourself in the mirror and encourage yourself; tell yourself that you’re great. Pray about who you should be surrounded with. Surround yourself with people that are going somewhere.”
She added, “Use discernment—when you know that you know who your haters are, it’s really hard, but you’ve just got to kill them with kindness.”
Abram is focused on protecting her peace and staying focused on living her dream.
On December 2, Lutunji’s Palate Bakery and Cafe is hosting a “sneak peek” event for the new space at 1400 Park Ave. S. in South Minneapolis from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. RSVP on Facebook or by emailing: facebook.com/events/688452875460890 or email@example.com.
For more info, visit @Lutunjispalate on Facebook, www.lutunjispalate.com, or call 612-382-2021.
Ashley Lauren is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder.