By Elizabeth F. McNamara
Knead Doughnuts’ decision to open on Main Street is happy news for doughnut lovers and Main Street boosters alike. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, just as we pandemic-weary folks are looking for some sweet relief (sorry!).
This will be the first expansion beyond Providence for the artisan doughnut purveyor.
Owner Adam Lastrina (he has two partners, Bolt Coffee owners Todd Mackey and Brian Gibb) said they were thinking of opening on Main Street earlier this year, but paused when the virus hit in March. Then, a few weeks ago, they decided the EG outlet was an important survival move.
Their flagship store on Custom House Street in downtown Providence has been closed since March and Lastrina said the scene downtown is so quiet that outlet might not reopen until September.
They have another shop off Wayland Square, as well as a large kitchen in the West End neighborhood of Providence. But those two outlets are only selling doughnuts on the weekends and Knead’s vibrant wholesale business died when everything shut down.
But their business model – with that big West End kitchen – relies on being able to sell a lot of doughnuts, Lastrina explained Wednesday.
“We need to make more donuts,” Lastrina said, noting they have a crew of dedicated employees, some who’ve been with Knead since it opened December 2016. The new East Greenwich location is meant to help. “This is how we keep the business going and hold onto our employees.”
Knead is moving into 333 Main Street, the space soon to be vacated by Raw Bob’s (don’t worry – Raw Bob’s is moving 5800 Post Road, sharing space with Perfectly Fit).
Lastrina is aware Knead’s move south brings them into the Allie’s Donuts sphere of influence. He’s OK with that.
“Allie’s is cool – their doughnuts are great,” Lastrina said. “I think there’s something to be said about competition. It challenges you to be better.”
And, Knead doughnuts are a little different. In addition to the basic vanilla glazed variety, they offer flavors like brown butter pecan, peanut butter and jelly, and raspberry fritter. They also offer a couple of vegan and flourless options daily. (Find out more HERE.)
“The majority of our business is grab-and-go,” Lastrina said. “We keep it simple … it’s fast service. Coffee in a cup and donuts in a box.”
The Town Council approved Knead’s victualling license Tuesday and Knead takes over the lease June 1. The space comes “relatively turnkey,” said Lastrina. They will do some renovations but not much and they hope to open July 1.
Initially, they will be doing what they’ve done in Providence since the beginning of the pandemic, steering people to online orders. Eventually, they will allow people to hang out inside if they want.
“We’re excited,” Lastrina said. “I hope the community will be supportive.”
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