Photos by Ariana Allison.

Inside CounterspaceBR’s new Mid City location on Government Street

CounterspaceBR is moving back to Mid City. The soft opening of its latest Baton Rouge location was held on Friday, Jan. 12, at 5621 Government St.

The bakery is no stranger to Government Street. Owner Sarah Joy Hays got her start by participating in MidCity Makers Markets and opened her first location of Counterspace in the former White Star Market food hall. Now, Hays is ready to share another location of her beloved sweet shop in the spot formerly occupied by Gov’t Taco, which closed its doors back in November. It’s part of a larger expansion plan for Counterspace, which is still going strong at its Bocage location and is also working on opening a third location in Zachary this year.

“(The growth) has just been me kind of pursuing and honing in on my creativity and my excitement about what I think Counterspace can be really big, big, big picture,” Hays says. “And then once I broadened my like scope of what I want Counterspace to be, between this and the Zachary house, those two opportunities just fell in my lap in a very serendipitous sort of way.”

Counterspace Mid City takes over the space formally occupied by Gov’t Taco.

During its soft open phase in Mid City, Counterspace will offer a smaller menu featuring Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies, Sprinkle Cookies, Triple Chocolate Brownies, Unicorn Bars, biscuits and king cakes by-the-slice. The shop will also serve hot and iced coffee from Luma Roasters, Fringe Roasters and cold brew from River Road Coffees. The bakery will even be collaborating with its new neighbor Cypress Coast Brewing Co. to release a king cake-themed beer at the brewery, Hays says.

After king cake season comes to a close, the Mid City location will serve its full menu starting Tuesday, Feb. 20. It will include new breakfast items like biscuit sandwiches, quiche by the slice, warm cinnamon rolls with a gluten-free option and breakfast tacos on house-made, gluten-free and vegan tortillas.

Late last year, Hays and her team began working on the shuttered taco shop to transform it into a new bakery and breakfast spot. A fresh coat of lighter paint, brighter lightbulbs, new light fixtures and a new ordering flow has helped turn the space into her own, Hays says. Soon, its bathrooms will be painted in that signature Counterspace pink.

There’s plenty of room for loyal customers and new patrons to come to get a treat, sip on a cup of coffee or find a seat to enjoy their goods and mingle with friends. Hays says she’s excited to offer a new space for the community to hang out just like they do at other local cafes and coffeehouses.

“The option to grab a cookie and a coffee and sit for a minute is something that we originally offered at our (former) Perkins location. But since COVID, we really haven’t had a ‘come sit and join us’ sort of space. So, the fact that we could still create that culture of ‘you’re welcome here and it’s a space for everyone,’ and the fact that we could still keep that culture going without a space to sit down is kind of remarkable, right? And so now, people will be able to sit and like, chat with the girls at the front and invite friends over, sit and do some work on their computer or whatever the case may be.”

The new shop also gives Conterspace more room to serve its community. Hays says the Government Street location is 2800 square feet compared to the Bocage shop’s 1,100. The new kitchen is just about the same size as the Bocage location and will pump out items for all of Counterspace’s locations. And, Hays admits she’s also excited about having a walk-in fridge which is an upgrade from the two-door fridge she’s been using at Bocage.

“This kitchen is going to be where all of our baking staff is housed out of,” Hays says. “It is going to service all of our wholesale clients that we still work with and all of our locations. … Bocage won’t have an active oven or any of that anymore. Because Bocage will always be opening at 10 and that later morning, everything will be baked fresh here in the morning and delivered to Bocage, and they’ll still have a great grab and variety.”

King cake and cookies from Counterspace

Bocage will still house most of Counterspace’s retail, though the Mid City spot will offer cards and candles for those picking up birthday cakes and sweets for celebrations. Once the new Zachary location opens, it will merge both both the Bocage and Mid City concepts, offering both retail and a room to sit and enjoy snacks. All three locations will have slightly different menus, but customers will find those signature cookies in all of the bakeries.

The cookie is what started it all, and the cookie is going to be the piece that’s consistent across all three,” she says. “You’ll always be able to get our cookie. Each location will have just a little bit different of a personality to kind of reflect who it’s serving and the neighborhood it’s in.”

Counterspace Mid City hosts its soft opening today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The location will have its first community event this Saturday, Jan. 13, with a King Cake Giveback where a percentage of sales will benefit St. Jude and the Flower Fest. This event will also feature Mid City neighbors like Red Stick Reads and Matt Haines, author of The Big Book of King Cake. 

Counterspace Mid City’s temporary hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

This article originally appeared in 225 magazine’s 225 Daily newsletter.