KNEAD Doughnuts -
VisitingNewEngland small business partnership
Finding the KNEAD for Great Doughnuts in Providence, Rhode Island
A sampling of KNEAD doughnuts.
Article and photos by Eric Hurwitz. Article
created on 1/11/18.
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The homepage headline on the KNEAD Doughnuts web site states,
"Good Doughnuts. Made Well." A better description
would be "Great Doughnuts. Made Incredibly Well."
Taking a classic, timeless concept to the next level, KNEAD Doughnuts
favors a lengthy process to create old-fashioned, cake and
brioche-style doughnuts that simultaneously celebrate the artisan food
movement of the 21st century while offering an authentic old-fashioned
doughnut taste from yesteryear. No just-add-water to a lifeless
here, no weird flavors, no artificial ingredients, and no crazy
toppings that have no meaningful relation to the actual doughnut.
Instead, Doughnuts uses just
seven simple, foundational ingredients and natural flavors to create
On its own, just walking into KNEAD Doughnuts suggests something
different than the typical doughnut shop. Located in a historic downtown
building dating back to 1875 that was later remodeled for a brokerage
firm, KNEAD Doughnuts has carried on the tradition of making dough,
albeit in a different way from its wealth management predecessor.
KNEAD Doughnuts features at least a baker's dozen of wonderful design
with a historic archway entrance, brass light fixture above, stately
concrete design, and inside, handsome wood floors, high-vaulted
ceilings, tall old-style windows, gold trimmings made from brass,
bright white walls, wooden block tables, thin hanging lights, a
beautiful old-style analog wall clock, a large window looking into the
kitchen and, of course, an expansive doughnut display case at the front
of the counter.
Dining area at KNEAD Doughnuts.
At that counter, KNEAD employees like Camille Champ constantly bring
out freshly-baked doughnuts...
Colleen Champ, a senior at Johnson and Wales University and
employee at KNEAD Doughnuts, brings out fresh doughnuts.
The doughnut selection goes beyond a baker's dozen, however,
starting with both a permanent and rotating seasonal display of
old-fashioned and creative kinds like vanilla-glazed made with real
vanilla bean, chocolate chip cookie, and spiced chai. The cake
doughnuts include chocolate, chocolate peanut butter and
"Snickerdoodle." The brioche doughnuts, which require a 24-hour
process to bring out rich flavors, include vanilla glazed, cinnamon
roll, passion fruit, brown butter pecan and cranberry pecan crumble.
For fans of the filled doughnut, Knead does a wonderful job with peanut
butter and jelly, plain jelly, and Boston Cream. The fritters are
out-of-this-world delicious like the raspberry fritter with chopped
formed together with raspberry and topped with a raspberry glazed.
Raspberry fritter from KNEAD Doughnuts.
"We have spent a lot of time with research and
our goal is to make everything true to taste," said Adam Lastrina, who
oversees the day-to-day operation and co-owns KNEAD with Todd Mackey
and Bryan Gibb. "When we make a raspberry fritter, it will taste like
raspberry. We use real fruit and no artificial flavors and colors!"
Adam Lastrina, of KNEAD Doughnuts.
Add some highly professional, friendly front and back end of
the bakery employees to create the doughnuts and serve the customers
makes the overall experience just that much sweeter. This is a first-class operation in every aspect.
KNEAD Doughnuts opened on Dec. 21, 2016 with
its name derived from a double-meaning defining the process of forming
a dough product and also needing it for consumption.
With a memorable business name and an approach to doughnut-making that
truly taps into the art and science of this craft, KNEAD
already built a huge, faithful following despite being located on a
narrow, hidden downtown street where parking is hard to find. Lastrina,
Mackey and Gibb knew, however, that Providence had a void in the
growing artisan doughnut industry and decided to bring their unique
work experiences to open KNEAD. Lastrina, a Johnson and Wales
University graduate with a degree in hotel and restaurant management,
worked 13 years as a general manager at Seven Stars Bakery in
Providence. Gibb and Mackey co-founded Bolt Coffee Company in
Providence. Mackey serves as a coffee importer for Olam Specialty
Coffee in downtown Providence. He brings an added advantage to KNEAD Doughnuts
as a trained roaster, and even travels to Central America annually to
find the best harvest as he meets with local farmers.
"It's definitely an extreme advantage having Todd's (coffee
expertise,)" smiled Lastrina.
With American staples in doughnuts and coffee being served at
its highest quality, business has boomed with, on its best days, up to
2,500 doughnuts sold. Even on Sunday when Providence oddly takes on the
look and feel of a small town with not much open, KNEAD has prospered
-- it is, in fact, their best day for selling doughnuts. Customers
arrive constantly, often in groups to order a variety of doughnuts to
"It's odd, but on Saturday and Sunday, Providence is very sleepy with
not a lot going on," said Lastrina, a Peterborugh, N.H., native now
living in Seekonk, Mass. We were thinking initially that we should stay
closed on Sundays. Thank goodness we didn't. It's our busiest day.
There's not an empty seat here."
Lastrina knows, however, that the successful business has its
limitations with a need to go beyond the current 2,000 sq. ft.
environs. Consequently, he will soon be opening a second KNEAD
Doughnuts on 135 Elmgrove St. in Providence, just outside Wayland
Square. The east side location will feature more seating and better
parking to complement the existing and thriving flagship KNEAD bakery
and doughnut-making facility.
KNEAD Doughtnuts has come a long way since taking over a formerly
building with no electricity and no gas. The building has not only been
restored, but also the reality of what a real doughnut should taste
Chocolate doughnuts from KNEAD.
"We wanted to be conscious of putting out a timeless product," said
Lastrina. "We didn't want to get caught up in the 'next big thing.'
You'll remember that cupcakes were big and then fizzled out after five
years.. Doughnuts have withstood the test of time, but we are not about
making crazy favors. We make about 16 types of doughnuts a day and
do everything from scratch... We just focus on a few things and don't
try to be everything to everybody. We just focus on making good
No, make that great doughnuts!
KNEAD Doughnuts is
located at 32 Custom House St. in Providence, RI. Tel. (401)
Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/KNEAD-Doughnuts-1190809734294544/.
Twitter page: http://www.twitter.com/kneaddoughnuts
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