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Two Pandemic-Era Online Sweet Shops Make the Jump to Brick-and-Mortar

One is dedicated to fruity vegan doughnuts, the other to Italian bomboloni

box of stuffed Italian doughnuts
Flavours range from cannoli and pistachio to red velvet and match mango cheesecake
Bomboloni Boss/Facebook

Earlier this month, two online dessert shops born in the throes of the pandemic were given some added permanency — with their own designated storefronts.

Since June 4, St-Denis Street has been home to a new doughnut shop dedicated exclusively to vegan iterations of the dessert: La Beignerie. And the following day, across town, Bomboloni Boss, an Instagram business specializing in the namesake stuffed Italian pastry, also graduated to an open-to-the-public brick-and-mortar, just off the Décarie.

Operating her own doughnut spot full-time wasn’t always the plan, La Beignerie owner Catherine Boucher, a dentist by trade, tells Eater. “It really started out as a weekend project, something we were doing Friday to Sunday. But when I saw the demand, I thought, ‘If I don’t do it, I will regret it.”

La Beignerie began in Boucher’s home kitchen, where a small team of four began churning out the treats in August 2020 for orders placed online. Around the holidays, they realized that they’d have to expand to keep up with the appetite for the treats, and so their search for the right locale began.

They settled on the Plateau, where Boucher says, “there is a good crowd of vegans,” herself included, and signed the lease for a space just below Duluth in April 2021.

Signage in front of the new business shows a wide-smiled, pink-glazed confection perched in a bathtub, an image that refers to the pun in the business’ slogan: “Viens prendre ton beigne!,” which directly translates to “Come take your doughnut!” In French, the words for “doughnut” (“beigne”) and “bathe” (“baigne”) are homophones.

The doughnuts are glazed — bathed, if you will — in fruity flavours, like strawberry milk sprinkled with confetti and passion fruit dotted with organic cocoa nibs, as well as other toppings like roasted hazelnuts, crushed Oreos, and blobs of cookie dough with chocolate syrup squiggles. More will come as the seasons change.

box of six doughnuts La Beignerie/Supplied

Boucher may have studied how to mend cavities, not spawn them, but she says that her passion for sweets has now taken precedence. “I liked dentistry, but I didn’t feel 100 percent in my place, so I decided to make the big move. It isn’t a bad plan B, if things with the shop don’t go as planned.”

Christina Pomponio, one of the founders (and now CEO) of Bomboloni Boss, in Côte-des-Neiges, coincidently also planned for a career as a health practitioner, as a pharmacist, but she’s hoping the two paths can co-exist.

“Pharmacy is my passion, and it’s always something I’ve wanted to do, but now I’ve realized that entrepreneurship is also my passion ... I see myself one day owning a pharmacy, but always also having a role in Bomboloni Boss.”

Pomponio co-owns the business with her boyfriend Donato Colavito, her cousin Amanda Ianoval, and Amanda’s fiancé Nando Mercuri, the chef, whose recipe for the stuffed, sugar-dusted, rich yet airy Italian confections was passed down through generations in his family.

Pomponio explains that the idea to start an online bomboloni shop was largely born of pandemic monotony. “It was around the time when you could only be a certain amount of people in the house, so we would always be hanging out the four of us, and then one day Nando showed us how to make bomboloni.”

Bomboloni Boss made its first official sale on September 15, 2020, working out of the kitchen of the Maiolo restaurant in the Méridien Hotel downtown, where Mercuri was employed at the time. Soon after, they moved into the kitchen of Côte-des-Neiges dinner spot Table 51, where they remained until earlier this month. They’re now moved into an adjacent space, where in addition to accommodating online orders, they can operate a walk-in bomboloni café.

The Instagram business had become so popular that in its first eight months of operation, it slung 200 thousand of the fluffy dough balls, securing pick-up locations around town at the likes of Café Olimpico and Clark Café. Pastry flavours range from the classically Italian (Nutella and pistachio, for example) to the decidedly unorthodox (think: matcha mango cheesecake and red velvet). The new location also adds new beverages to the menu, including affogatos and an iced, foamy hazelnut latte.

“Like a lot of people who start an Instagram business, we really thought this would just be a side thing ... so we were totally shocked that it blew up. And we’re still shocked. We still don’t really get it. Sometimes, we look around, and we’re like, ‘Wow, how did this happen?”

Bomboloni Boss is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 5475 Rue des Jockeys. La Beignerie is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 3979 St-Denis

La Beignerie

3979 Rue Saint-Denis, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, QC H2W 2M4 Visit Website

Bomboloni Boss

5475 Rue des Jockeys, Montreal, Quebec H4P 2T7 Visit Website