Downtown Rochester’s newest store front opens with love of sharing food

LeeAnn Zubay has brought her online business to a brick-and-mortar space with This Is Food Union.

This Is Food Union during its second open day on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 in downtown Rochester
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER — LeeAnn Zubay has had many different businesses over the years to share her love of food and provide a place for Rochester foodies to find rare ingredients.

Zubay has once again opened a store front for her passion with This Is Food Union, which had a soft open this week.

This Is Food Union launched in 2021 as a website to start, but now it has its own brick-and-mortar space at 212 First Ave. in downtown Rochester. The building is owned by LeeAnn and her husband, Jerry Zubay, which made for an easy move in from operating on the second floor of the building.

“I wanted to do something else, and so I thought I'm just gonna bring some of my ZZest stuff back for myself,” LeeAnn Zubay said. “And if anyone wants to buy anything, great, join in. I started it online and no one even knew it existed, which is fine. When Olive Juice Studios left this building, I just went, I'm just gonna go downstairs and move into that space.”

Kelly and Scott Schoeberl left the space on good terms with the Zubays and brought their business to their backyard in a detached studio at their home 4820 55th St. NW in Rochester. The Schoeberls moved out on Dec. 31, going to a space more accommodating to their client needs with Olive Juice. Zubay didn’t hesitate to get her plans rolling to move into the basement space.


“They had been here for years and they had a flair for making the place look spiffy. I was upstairs on the second floor just doing curbside delivery. It was white and bright in my space up there and down here it's dark and mysterious, which is way more like me anyway,” said Zubay.

Having a space that suits her personality, Zubay is eager to share and sell items from her life in the restaurant industry with anyone who wants to bring the items to a new home.

“Every single thing in here is something from my past in a past restaurant or something. Oddly enough, not a lot of ZZest items are here. Things have been in storage units and at my house, I literally am going to unload my house here to hopefully have them go into a new home with the same care I had for them,” said Zubay.

People who were former customers of Zubay’s at businesses such as ZZest and Lettuce Unite are already making their way over to see This Is Food Union. Monty Flinsch and Jen Schrandt were regulars at ZZest and are happy to see Zubay opening up another store like this.

Jen Schrandt, left, and Monty Flinsch, center, make their first of many purchases at LeeAnn Zubay's This Is Food Union on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 in downtown Rochester.
Theodore Tollefson / Post bulletin

“There’s really nothing else like this place in Rochester,” Flinsch said. “The (People's) Co-op is the only other place you can go with anything similar. It’s fabulous seeing everything, it’s a nice vibe here, you know she (LeeAnn) loves food and bonding over love of food is a great thing.”

Zubay plans to have regular hours for This Is Food Union begin next week. The regular hours will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and every other Saturday. Mondays and Tuesdays will be by appointment.

A wall full of hard-to-find cooking ingredients at This Is Food Union's open house on Wednesday, March 16, 2023 in downtown Rochester.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

This Is Food Union

212 First Ave. SW, Rochester, MN 55902


Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or
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