Something sweet has been causing a buzz in downtown St. Catharines. Beechwood Doughnuts opened its doors to the public on Jan. 13 and has received very positive reception from the community so far.
“We’ve been open for almost four weeks now,” said co-owner, Tayler Book. “We were planning on a slow launch but it didn’t really happen that way. We were expecting to just make 200 doughnuts and just kind of put them on the display and sit there. We didn’t realize that there would be a line up down the street and around the corner.”
Beechwood Doughnuts is owned and operated by Book alongside business partners, Shane and Leah Belanger. The Belanger siblings originally worked at the first all-vegan restaurant in the Niagara region, Rise Above, located close by on St. Paul Street.
After four years of being the original bakers at Rise Above, they decided to partner with Book and start Beechwood Doughnuts.
“It wasn’t always going to be a doughnut shop at the beginning,” said Book. “It was going to be a bakery, but we asked ourselves if we really wanted to be a bakery/doughnut place. It was originally going to be Beechwood Bakery, but last minute it became Beechwood Doughnuts, just doughnuts, and it just kind of took off.”
When asked how a group of young adults in their 20s decided to start an all-vegan donut shop, Book explained, “for me it was about creating jobs. For them it was about owning their own workplace. It wasn’t about making a doughnut franchise, it was about making jobs for ourselves and our friends. [Shane and Leah] have always liked to bake, especially Shane. We all just wanted to be our own boss. We’re just a bunch of twenty-somethings running our own place.”
Although there are other vegan bakeries around, you would be hard pressed to find one nearby that carries doughnuts in diverse flavours that range from coconut cream, cookies and cream, earl grey tea to nanaimo. They also employ a four-hour baking process for every batch, so that the donuts are always warm, fresh and fluffy, a process that is often underappreciated by customers who want their doughnuts immediately.
“Everyone comes in wondering why we sold out but since it take four hours to make them we have to plan in advance. Everyone assumes that it doesn’t take that long… We are making over 1000 donuts a day and we are selling out almost every day. We are trying to slowly make more but we don’t want to get too crazy.”
The fast start of the business has caught the staff off-guard.
“We have already exceeded what we expected in the first few years. We weren’t expecting this big of an operation to start off with. We didn’t think we would be able to hire anyone for the first few years, but we have already hired nine people so far and we’ve been open for four weeks,” said Book.
This quick growing start-up has joined many other young entrepreneurs on James Street and with such an impressive start to a business in the area, continued success is anticipated.
Beechwood Doughnuts is located at 5 James St., St Catharines and is open every Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until they’re sold out. Check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and be sure to stop in and try out one of their tasty treats.