Rain or shine, wind or snow, the city of Providence counts on up-and-coming bike-cart-based bakery Butterbang Croissants to grace its streets and uplift residents with famous flaky specialties.
Founder and baker Brian Leosz says Butterbang is his way of “bringing joy to people.”
The croissant “is something that I’ve put all of my energy and love into, and (when) that comes through, it’s really a reflective moment where you realize ‘Wow, I’m really enjoying this.’ It’s a simple pleasure, but it (can) change someone’s morning or day,” he said. He sells his joy-inducing bundles on a bike cart during the week as weather permits, while operating a Croissant Counter at 11 Aleppo St. on weekends.
The menu is stuffed with a myriad of mouthwatering and delectable options. There’s the Choco croissant, which boasts a fair-trade, organic chocolate filling, and the Almond croissant — Leosz’s personal favorite — which oozes a thick almond spread that’s made from scratch. Better yet, the Choco Almond croissant combines the two to double the fun and the flavor. There’s also the Dainty Pig, the menu’s savory starlet, which is stuffed with prosciutto, gouda and rosemary. And according to Leosz himself, the Yum Roll, a cinnamon-roll-inspired croissant laced with caramel and doused in glaze, is a crowd favorite that never fails to garner rave reviews and loyal returners.
Although we as customers only witness the buttery delicacies in their final glory, lined up intricately on glass-encased shelves before disappearing into our mouths in a matter of seconds, each and every pastry is actually a product of “a lot of coordination and timing.” The path to a Butterbang croissant’s conception actually starts three days earlier, with each day involving a different stage of the elaborate process.
On the first day of making a new batch, Leosz begins by mixing and making the base dough. The second day is all about lamination, which Leosz describes as “the process whereby you fold the dough and the butter together to get all those beautiful layers” that make up the signature croissant texture. On day three, the croissants are allowed to rest and develop flavor before finally being popped in the oven to bake.
Leosz’s passion for baking emerged early in his life. His knack for taking on complex baking recipes, such as baklava and cakes, was clear to family, friends and coworkers since he was young. When he visited France as an adult, he fell in love with the croissant and took on that recipe as well.
A Boston native, Leosz established Butterbang Croissants as a Denver-based wholesale business in 2014 when he uprooted his Northeast lifestyle to move across the country. Upon arriving, he discovered how well-suited his new home’s environment and commercial scene were to his lifelong hobby. Denver’s high altitude and low atmospheric pressure naturally shortened the length of proofing time and lessened the amount of yeast required for the croissant recipe, making the baking process much more efficient. Additionally, the still-developing food scene provided a promising opportunity to supply original pastries.
Upon his return to the East Coast, he decided to try his hand at the industry again, but with a different angle: retail, not wholesale, which meant face-to-face interaction with customers in Providence. “For spending so many hours alone in a bakery, in your own head, you really need that interaction, and that’s really what’s been great in doing the bike cart and Croissant Counters here in Providence,” he says.
Butterbang Croissants has quite the following and reputation on Instagram, where Leosz keeps his consumer base updated on his daily bike cart locations, upcoming pop-ups and new pastry releases. Recently, he offered a croissant-making master class, which sold out in a mere two hours.
When asked about any advice he would give to aspiring entrepreneurs, Leosz offered two main points. First, “find a way to dabble in your idea before making a headfirst dive” to ensure that you enjoy your dream as a reality. Second, for those who specifically wish to enter the food scene, don’t be afraid to “reach out to people who are already established … The wider your network, the more opportunities you will find.”