Butterbang Serves Swoon-Worthy Croissants in Providence
Pastry chef Brian Leosz sells his French baked goods from a croissant window in Olneyville.
Rhode Island Monthly: What made you want to start a croissant bakery?
Brian Leosz: I’m a self-taught baker who fell in love with the croissant more than a decade ago on my first trip to France. I started Butterbang in 2019 because I wanted to bring the transformative, simple pleasure of eating a flaky, buttery croissant to others. I first launched Butterbang as a bike cart. Once COVID hit, I adapted to selling from the front door of my bakery kitchen (which I call “the Croissant Window”) because it was a safer way to continue serving my customers.
How long does it take to make a proper croissant?
Making a Butterbang croissant takes about three days, with a lot of resting time built in to help the dough develop flavor and recover between kneading, rolling and shaping. It is a labor-intensive process. I don’t take shortcuts, as there is always a trade-off to quality. Generally speaking, it is a full week’s work to prepare for one morning of order pickups at the Croissant Window. It’s no small effort to make croissants the authentic way, especially as a one-man operation. My life experience and soul go into this work.
Where can people try your croissants?
The best way to nab a croissant is to follow Butterbang on Instagram (@butterbangcroissants) or sign up for email notifications on the website. Butterbang hosts the Croissant Window one to two days a week at the Butterbang Kitchen in Olneyville at 11 Aleppo St., Unit 7, Providence. Currently, customers are required to pre-order their croissants online before arriving. There are no walk-up sales at this time.
What varieties do you make?
Butterbang has a core menu of croissants including: Classic, Choco (fair-trade, organic chocolate), Almond, Choco Almond, the Dainty Pig (prosciutto, gouda and rosemary) and Yum Rolls (a croissant cinnamon roll with vanilla glaze and salted caramel). I also offer seasonal specials, often inspired by life experiences or places I’ve traveled to (or want to travel to).
How did you adapt when the pandemic hit?
Operating off my bike cart was no longer going to provide adequate safe distance between me and my customers. The bike cart brought a lot of whimsical joy to my customers, so it was a difficult decision to retire it in favor of selling directly from my production kitchen. My commercial kitchen doesn’t have enough interior space to set up a traditional retail counter, so I had to come up with an alternative way to continue serving my customers in a “no-touch” fashion. I shifted all sales online, so I wouldn’t have to handle credit cards on site. I fashioned a makeshift insulated pickup window that rolls into my front doorway. This puts a safe barrier between me and my customers, and prevents the wind from chilling the croissants inside. Beyond iterating on the pickup process for increased safety and speed, I’ve also switched from baking several days to just one or two “megabakes” each week to ensure I’m operating at maximum efficiency. This helps me conserve energy and resources during increasingly uncertain economic times. Thankfully, I have wonderful customers who have fully embraced each adaptation of the business. I’m not sure how this setup will adapt once life returns to normal, but I’m grateful it is working well at present for the business and my customers.
What’s the best way to eat a croissant?
The best way to eat a croissant is without guilt. Butter is good for you. Joy is, too. butterbang.com