Reflections of a Restaurateur

Alicia Hinze of The Buttered Tin

An exclusive eskca interview with Alicia Hinze (owner and pastry chef) of The Buttered Tin, which was honored in our:
Tell us your origin story. How did you come to be involved with The Buttered Tin?

After working in corporate America for a few years, I decided that it wasn’t the path for me. I decided I was going to pursue a dream to go to pastry school, even if that meant that I was only going to use those skills in my personal life. I attended Le Cordon Bleu in the Patisserie and Baking program and almost instantly I knew that I had found my niche. Within weeks, I knew that someday I would open a bakery of my own. Years later, and after working at many well-known Twin Cities bakeries as a cake decorator and baker, I decided to go out on my own. I had recently been on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and won, so that was helpful in getting some attention for my new bakery. I opened The Buttered Tin in St. Paul, MN in 2013 and to my delight, it was way busier than I expected, with lines out the door all weekend long. Since then, I have expanded the restaurant 1000 feet and opened a second location in Minneapolis.

What were the biggest hurdles you encountered in your journey?

There have been so many hurdles in the almost 9 years of running this restaurant. The first hurdle was even trying to get the restaurant open. Finding funding for a restaurant is not easy. Then there was a split between myself and a business partner that was difficult. And then just when you think you have come across all the hurdles you can manage, a pandemic comes along. The pandemic has proven to be the most difficult of them all. It has had such lasting effect: supply chain issues, product costs, labor shortages, and hikes in pay, mandates and more. We aren’t even nearly done with all of that hurdle yet.

What does the future hold for you and The Buttered Tin?

There is a pandemic silver lining for The Buttered Tin. During the mandated restaurant shut downs, we were able to test and develop a line of freshly frozen baked goods. It went so well that it became a new company, and now, The Buttered Tin Freshly Frozen is in local grocery stores. We make bakery quality products that you can bake at home, such as cinnamon rolls, blueberry crumble pie, French apple pie, dinner rolls, cherry hand pies, and more.

What are your thoughts on the food scene in Saint Paul?

I think St. Paul, and the Twin Cities in general, have an immense amount of culinary talent. I’d love to see bustling restaurants once again – we’ve all gone through an incredible amount of hardship and are all very anxious for the busy days again.

What’s your best advice for aspiring restaurateurs?

At the heart of running a restaurant is serving people, serving your community, and making customers happy. It needs to be in your blood because it is not an easy business (tight margins, staff issues, etc.), but if you love it, it can be so much fun.

Our readers love recommendations! What’s your favorite item at The Buttered Tin?

Our cinnamon rolls are not to be missed, especially with the cream cheese frosting! You can buy them freshly baked at both locations or freshly frozen at Kowalski’s markets.


For more exclusive interviews, see our full Reflections of a Restaurateur series