Doughnuts are an American staple. But San Francisco’s Bespoke Doughnuts is completely flipping the whole idea on its head with flavors like Roasted Pear and Walnut, Herb Pesto and Hummus and Honey Lemon Mint. The company was formed last year by Santa Cruz ex-pat Reilly Meehan and partner Brian Christie.
They are joining forces this Friday with Hey Pop Up, which is run by Assembly owners Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis, who throw spontaneous, unique food events in the room next to Assembly. We asked Meehan about his unusual doughnut business, and their upcoming Santa Cruz pop up.
GT: Why did you choose doughnuts to experiment with?
REILLY MEEHAN: I’ve always enjoyed taking classic favorites—like chicken pot pie, let’s say—and turning them into something unrecognizable. It looks like a chicken pot pie, but doesn’t taste like a chicken pot pie. So for me, to be able to deconstruct a doughnut and to have it be something totally novel has been really fun.
What are some of the doughnuts you’ll be doing?
When we do a pop up, we offer three different doughnuts. The first one is light and fruity—we just did one with peaches and raspberries. That was our take on the classic peach melba, which is a dessert with peaches, vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. One of my favorite savory doughnuts is the pulled pork.
Do you prefer spontaneous food events like Hey Pop Up, as opposed to a more consistent spot?
Brian and I didn’t want to jump in to trying to open a shop, and not have any idea if there’s a market for what we’re doing, or what kind of price point we’d sell it at. By doing these popups, it allows us to test all those things. We change the doughnuts every pop up we do. We can see which ones get good responses, which ones get bad responses. All of our doughnuts are fried to order. So as opposed to a regular doughnut shop where you pick your stale doughnut that’s been sitting in a shelf for a while, so you’re always ensured a warm doughnut.
Bespoke Doughnuts will do a pop-up event at Hey Pop Up, 1108 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, on Friday, June 6 at 5:30 p.m. Free admission. 316-0790.