Sadie Blais, owner of Break cafe and coffee shop on Court Street in Auburn, creates the enormous Special Club sandwich. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Just a small sample of the homemade gluten-free doughnuts Break owner Sadie Blais offers up throughout the year. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — Do not leave without a doughnut!

OK, now that I got that out there, I can slow down and give you the backstory.

I’m referring to Break cafe, located in Auburn’s historic Engine House at 158 Court St., and don’t be fooled: It’s much more than a neighborhood coffee shop. It’s also where customers can count on vegan, gluten-free and traditional healthy options for eating, whether they’re grabbing a snack to take to the office or meeting with friends for a leisurely catch-up.

Owner Sadie Blais, who came up through the food industry ranks under the wings of her dad and memere at Rolly’s Diner in New Auburn, not only strives to give her patrons the best quality food and customer service possible, but she especially embraces those with specialized dietary needs.

Blais always knew she wanted to own a restaurant business and she’s found her niche as she works to be what she refers to as “all-inclusive.”

Not that everything at Break is “healthy,” which — well, look at that! — brings me back to those doughnuts. Where else in the Twin Cities can you get homemade vegan doughnuts that come in more flavors than you can imagine, including Saturday morning specialties embellished with cereal such as Fruity Pebbles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Cookie Crisp?

Counting the cereal-laden doughnuts, Blais said she makes 30 dozen vegan doughnuts each week. Tender, cakey and bursting with flavor, these gems have gained quite a following in the 17 months since Break opened.

A variety of berry filled muffins from Break-Coffee Shop in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The clever business owner and baker simply went with what customers asked for and devised a doughnut recipe that incorporates egg substitute, almond milk and oil. And although she’s not about to divulge any secrets, Blais admits she gets a kick out of creating multiple flavor combinations. She even offers a doughnut assortment for customers of the gluten-free persuasion.

Everyone has their favorite, and Blais confesses that hers is chocolate peppermint. But since customers can’t keep up with her vivid imagination, sense of fun and surprise, those fan favorites change as often as she rotates flavors.

Keeping seasonal varieties at the forefront, Blais said she has developed over 100 different flavor combinations. She recites the ones that come to mind first, “Blueberry lemon, chocolate espresso, molasses, pumpkin maple, chocolate peanut butter . . .” There are many, many more made according to the whims of the cook and what ingredients are on hand.

If you’re not in a doughnut frame of mind, however, consider a more traditional baked good, such as a substantial muffin complete with crunchy sugar top, or a gooey cinnamon roll, a plump cookie or a locally famous pop tart — all homemade.

And to accompany your sweet treat, what could be better than Carpe Diem coffee straight up or a latte flavored with house-made syrup? There are the stand-by flavors, such as mocha and vanilla bean, but also other house specialties including blueberry, lavender and chocolate-coconut, to name a few.

Coffee cake from Break-Coffee Shop in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

But doughnuts and baked goods are just one slice of the Break menu. If you feel the need to put something more healthy or some protein into your body before you reach for that sweet something, there are a host of sandwiches and other options for both breakfast (served all day) and lunch.

For the morning meal, the VeganWich stands at one end of the spectrum while the Big Boy Breakfast Wrap containing eggs, two choices of meats and triple cheese is at the other. Or if a hearty bowl of oatmeal is what your belly needs, look no further. You can have your hot cereal made to order with anything from nuts and maple syrup to chocolate chips and caramel . . . in other words, just the way you like it.

Lunch choices include the Veggiewich and the Shroomwich, featuring portabella mushrooms for the discerning vegetarian or vegan.

For the carnivorous among us, Blais offers big sandwiches made with “clean label’ hormone-free ham and turkey, stacked with cheese and vegetables. These run the gamut from the Cuban, with house-made pickles, to the absolutely huge Break Special Club, engineered for the completely famished lunch customer. Not your ordinary club sandwich by any means, thick-sliced turkey, bacon and cheddar cheese are layered between three slices of bread along with spinach, tomatoes and some of the special house-made condiments that bring customers back to Break again and again.

The enormous Break Special Club sandwich is more than a meal. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

These savory condiments are used to doll up many of the menu items and can also be added as an extra at your discretion. Pickled jalapenos, honey-mustard dressing, kalamata olive tapenade, garlic aioli, pesto mayo and sweet onion jam are included in the list.

There’s the option of gluten-free bread for your sandwich of choice, or if grains aren’t on your agenda at all these days, any sandwich fillings (including breakfast items) can be served over greens as a salad. Speaking of which, there are specialty salads on the menu, too, including the popular avocado chicken. Daily quinoa bowls and seasonal soups round out the offerings.

Blais attributes the success of Break to her loyal customers and added, “My inspiration came from growing up in my family’s restaurant. I’m the person and business owner I am today because of my dad and memere. Making them proud is what encourages me to branch out and prove myself.”

With two children at home, the entrepreneur weaves her work hours around her kids’ schedule so she can be home for dinner and have a couple days off each week to spend with them. “This is a sacrifice now and I’ll have the reward of teaching them the business later on, just like my family did for me.”

As she builds the business up for her family, Blais hopes to expand into catering small parties while continuing to please her Break customers and — whew! — keeping the doughnuts coming.

For updates on flavors and specials of the day, call Break at 795-1181 Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can also check out the eatery’s Facebook page to get the low-down or just stop in and prepare to be surprised.

Writer and editor Karen Schneider has been a regular contributor to the Lewiston Sun Journal for over 22 years. Contact her at [email protected]

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