Butterbang Bakery is Pedaling Its Way Around Providence
Brian Leosz rides his mobile croissant bakery and bike cart to locations around Providence.
Butterbang croissants are making a big noise across Providence. Owner, baker and biker Brian Leosz took some time out of his busy schedule of pedaling his bakery around town to answer some questions about his mobile croissant business and bike cart.
What made you want to start a mobile croissant bakery?
I’m a self-taught baker who fell in love with the croissant a decade ago on my first trip to France. I started Butterbang because I wanted to bring the transformative, simple pleasure of eating a flaky, buttery croissant to others. My long-term goal is to open a bakery cafe, but that endeavor takes a fair bit of capital I don’t have access to just yet. I launched Butterbang as a bike cart because it was the most affordable way to delve into retail sales and build a proof of concept that will hopefully attract investment and partnership. Luckily, the cart has been a great vehicle for building brand awareness; it gets heaps of attention as I pedal from one end of the city to another. I receive friendly honks of encouragement as I ascend the treacherously steep hills near Brown and RISD on a 600-pound bike rig. This setup also affords me the opportunity to interact more intimately with my new customers than wholesale or other vending methods would allow. Relationship building is critical, especially in the early stages of growing a business largely by word of mouth. I want Butterbang to be than just a transactional business. I want it to be a spark of joy and weirdness in the lives of my customers. We need more of both. Hopefully, I’m accomplishing that!
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, I spend about twelve to fourteen hours preparing for a four-hour window of morning sales on the bike cart. It’s no small effort to make croissants the authentic way, especially as a one-man operation. My life experience and soul goes into this work.
What varieties do you make, and what’s the best way to eat a croissant?
Butterbang has a core menu of croissants including: Classic, Choco (fair-trade, organic chocolate), Almond, Choco Almond, the Dainty Pig (prosciutto, gouda and rosemary), the Baked Brie (brie, walnuts, honey and balsamic glaze), and Yum Rolls (a croissant cinnamon roll with vanilla glaze and salted caramel). Another popular, occasional offering is the Bang Bar, a croissant bread pudding bar with chocolate and salted caramel. The cart also sells locally-roasted coffee from Borealis Coffee Company and a housemade spicy chai. I offer seasonal specials, often inspired by people in my life or places I’ve traveled to (or want to travel to). December’s special was called Nana’s Date Cake — a croissant filled with a caramelized sticky date and walnut spread, and topped with crystallized ginger.
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.
Do you plan to pedal around all winter long?
You will see the Butterbang bike cart pedaling around town year-round, as the weather allows. I hike the White Mountains in New Hampshire during winter, so a few hours outside in the cold aren’t a big deal for me. When the weather dips below freezing, you’ll be able to find me at occasional indoor pop-ups at various locations around Providence.
Where can people try your croissants?
The best way to nab a croissant is to follow Butterbang on Instagram (@butterbangcroissants) or Facebook, where I post all of my upcoming appearances the day prior. I’m generally selling three days a week, though the specific days of the week tend to change weekly due to weather. Beyond catching the bike cart on the streets, Butterbang also hosts the Croissant Counter on weekends at the Butterbang Kitchen in Olneyville on the West Side of the city [usually on Sundays, and opens at 8:30 a.m. sharp at 11 Aleppo St., Unit 7, Providence]. This is a grab-and-go setup, where folks can pop into the bakery and grab croissants and drinks to go. I’ve been very fortunate to have the support of exceptionally gracious local businesses like Hometown Poke and PVDonuts, where I occasionally pop up with my wares indoors.