“Cronuts have been and gone, cupcakes had a prolonged time in the spotlight, we now see that doughnuts are set to have a revolution in London.” The Blend speaks with Rowena Carey, retail manager of doughnut and coffee bar chain, Crosstown at their newest site in Piccadilly which opened on 8 September.
The company began when one of the founders, JP Then, approached people with a coffee concept that was inspired by his trips to New York. Adam Wills replied, wanting to incorporate doughnuts into JP’s business plan after seeing how successful they were in the states and wanted to bring this culture to London. This snowballed into what Crosstown is today – the name deriving from the cross of passions in the business and the mix of founders coming from very different backgrounds.
When asked why Piccadilly was chosen as the location for their latest store, since Crosstown has a branch trading just a few minutes away in Soho, Rowena tells us: “We always keep an eye out for new sites across London, and when the corner location on Piccadilly became available, how could we say no? Having the Soho store close helps us feel comfortable, even though the new site is a big step up for us.”
Crosstown intends to shake the perception of doughnuts being of a poor standard in the UK through its use of high quality ingredients such as Belgium chocolate and real vanilla in their classic doughnuts. “Seasonal varieties are bought in to keep our offering fresh,” Rowena explains. “The epitome of this would be our recently launched Boysenberry and Bramley Apple doughnut, a delicious Autumnal addition.”
“The big crowd-pleaser we offer is the Sea Salt Caramel Banana, made by mashing fresh bananas through a custard into a cocoa infused sourdough with a layer of toffee, a layer of sea salt caramel and a crumble. It really is spectacular.”
Great doughnuts must be paired with great coffee, which is why Crosstown has collaborated with Caravan Coffee Roasters, serving their Market blend and a rotating selection of Caravan single origins across their stores. “We have partnered with Sandows Cold Brew which has been very successful for us. As soon as they bought out their nitro cold brew on tap, we were quick to take this on across a number of our stores and experimented by using it in some of our doughnuts.” Rowena says.
Launching a new store can be a struggle, regardless of the business’ size. In response to being asked about the new branch’s success, Rowena said: “It’s been very promising so far and on our first day we had a line out the door! For our first two weeks of being open we are offering £1 coffee which really helped spread the word within the London community.”
On-demand delivery service is a key focus for Crosstown moving forward as they seek to open more branches across London, meaning their doughnuts can be delivered to customers within half an hour.