Mel and Ky Guse, the Sisters & Owners of GYST

Growing up, we heard countless stories of “The Cantina” - the small pub our grandparents owned throughout the 70s. Located in the Western Mall in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, The Cantina was the place to be. From the midnight streakers, to the $0.25 Hamm’s beers, to the Sunday “Prayer Circles” (which meant getting together to play cards and drink beers), the stories our family told about the Cantina were more than memorable.

Our grandparents were a big part of our childhood. They owned an acreage near Brandon, South Dakota where they grew fruits and vegetables. Huge pumpkins, plump strawberries, crisp peapods and mouth-watering tomatoes were all a part of being at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. And although we grew up on velveeta cheese, Hamburger Helpers and cans of cream of mushroom soup-based hot dishes, at our grandparent’s were were exposed to both the idea of growing food, as well as the taste of whole and fresh produce from the ground. We carried these experiences as we each moved through what we thought were our careers: Mel working in PR and Ky in Public Health.

However, there are times in life when a force larger than yourself picks you up and puts you exactly where you are meant to be. And that’s what happened...

Working Late
Old Family Photo

In 2006, we moved to San Francisco. If you are interested in our bios, you can read more about what we were doing before we entered the wonderful world of food and drink. The long story, short, is that we both worked and were inspired by Bi-Rite Market and owner, Sam Moganam’s vision of “creating community through food.” Mel completed her sommelier certification through the International Sommelier Guild and worked to open a new Pizzeria Delfina and then became co-wine buyer at Bi-Rite. Ky was a cashier at Bi-Rite and learned about all the products and produce in the store. She also worked on a project in collaboration with StoryCorps at Bi-Rite’s non-profit called 18 Reasons.

When our grandfather passed away in 2011, we were at a crossroads in life in San Francisco. We could stay and continue to live in a city that was changing before our very eyes, or we could move closer to our family in South Dakota, and open up something of our own, which of course, we did.

In 2013, we met Creative Partners, Jill Mott and Jim Bovino. As a team, we kept coming up with items for our menu that were all fermented: delicious artisanal cheese and salumi, along with fermented vegetables to cut through the fat and aid digestion, beautiful natural wines, beers, ciders, kombucha, chocolate, coffee...all fermented! Instead of thinking of GYST as just a “cheese bar” or a sleepy “wine bar” we settled on the idea of a fermentation bar.

Four years into life in Minneapolis, and almost two years since the opening of GYST Fermentation Bar, we couldn’t be more grateful. We truly believe we have the best and brightest team, all of whom care deeply about creating experiences for our guests, whether it be through food and drink and telling the stories behind them or sharing ideas of cooperation, health and sustainability. We are grateful to all our neighbors and guests that have come in to enjoy a different way of exploring food and drink. We look forward to continuing this amazing adventure, with constant creativity on the horizon.

GYST Staff

GYST Fermentation Bar

The word ‘gyst’ is an Old English derivative for yeast. Pronounced ‘gist’, meaning the essence or the point, is the perfect name for a fermentation bar that celebrates the ancient art of preservation - uncovering the very soul of food and drink - and creating diverse flavors.

A fermentation bar celebrates the benefits of preservation in food and beverage. Fermentation creates diverse tastes, health benefits, and food sustainability. We practice fermentation by producing specialty products and recipes to offer a menu centered around global, fermented food and beverage pairings.


Sustainability is at the heart of GYST.