On the fringe of the financial district and tucked away in a building with vaulted ceilings, bright white walls and elegant gold trimmings, Knead Doughnuts has begun to satisfy the sweet tooth of Providence’s downtown denizens. The doughnut shop came on the scene after a soft opening in January. Now the store has fully opened to the public and is working to create a brand centered around tradition, community and quality.
Knead began as the brainchild of Bryan Gibb, a co-owner of the BOLT coffee chain, when he noticed the national artisan doughnut trend had not yet reached Providence.
“I had been kicking the idea around for a while, talking about it with friends,” Gibb said. “I started to build a team around it and got to bring doughnuts to the city.”
The store strives to create a “timeless” and “approachable” product, Gibb said. With classic flavors such as glazed vanilla, chocolate cake and a few elegant novelties like Earl Grey and passion fruit, Knead does not subscribe to the quirky outlandishness of other contemporary doughnut houses.
“The Boston Cream donut is my favorite,” said customer Blake Gerry. “It’s the best one I’ve ever had.”
Knead also sells a small selection of coffee products by Native, a New York City-based roaster.
Knead partners with charity groups around Providence, providing doughnuts and donations for events such as school fundraisers, homeless shelters and nonprofits, such as the Izzy Foundation, a group that supports the families of children with chronic and debilitating illnesses. This spring, Knead will provide doughnuts for runners along the route of the Providence Marathon.
“The thing that we have is,” Gibb said. “It’s our medium. We can’t do it all, but we love giving back by doing the things we’re doing.”
The company’s doughnuts can also be found in BOLT Coffee’s two locations in Providence. Gibb’s experience with BOLT helped him to open Knead, but only to a certain degree.
“Both of BOLT’s locations cohabitate with other businesses, so the building development side of Knead was new to me,” he said. “We couldn’t just bootstrap our way into it this time,” Gibb said, adding that he had to be thrifty while renovating the 32 Custom House St. location.
The location Gibb settled on is spacious and airy, with a window that lets patrons look directly into the kitchen, emphasizing Knead’s focus on community. “I love it here because it’s rarely crowded, the doughnuts are great and the staff is friendly,” said customer Jeannie Szykowny.
Marissa Roberson is one of those friendly staffers. “I love that we have the ability to work as a team to focus on one great product,” she said. “We try to create a vibe that’s uplifting and personal.”
Gibb, who has interest in urban planning and development, says he hopes to one day expand Knead to other brick-and-mortar locations, though nothing concrete is in the works yet.