Speakeasy Donuts Pop-Up Shop
Chefs Wren Werner and Garrett Raynes have given life to their confectionary dream.
Photographs by Scott Murry
If you’re going to pop up selling something, it might as well be donuts. There’s no getting around it: Donuts are a classic comfort treat that appeal to people of all ages, because no matter how you dress them up, it’s hard to turn down a baked good topped with sugar. But Speakeasy Donuts Pop-Up Shop is not your average donut operation. Their social media tagline states their deceptively simple goal of “creating sugary donut magic.” Speakeasy is the creation of Wren Werner and Garrett Raynes, two accomplished chefs who recently gave life to this confectionary dream.
With a background in baking and an extensive knowledge of the French pastry-making process, Werner knew the success of Speakeasy would largely depend on a versatile dough that also happens to be delicious. All Speakeasy donuts begin with the same dough, which is yeast based and is neither “too sweet nor too savory,” explains Werner. “The dough is neutral; it’s soft enough but also has a chew to it that sets us apart,” she says. Putting the time into perfecting the dough was critical for them, and once they were happy with it, they funneled their energy into the massive undertaking that was creating a pop-up shop out of thin air.
The idea for this mobile pop-up came together quite organically. Donuts are baked on site in Beverly, and local connections and interest from shop owners naturally led to events where Speakeasy had the opportunity to make event-specific donuts. A recent Spider-Man-themed event at Paper Asylum in Beverly called for them to make three types of donuts, the Web Slinger, Aunt May’s Cherry Pie, and the Ka-POW!, with the idea for each coming from a theme or element from the well-known movie.
While the dough is very much a science, “The toppings are not,” says Werner. This is where Werner really flexes her creative muscles, something that comes naturally thanks to her background in graphic design. Donuts are often thought of as sweet, and sugary toppings, frostings, and glazes often find their way to the top of donuts bearing the Speakeasy name—but with a twist. Past flavors have included Strawberry Basil Margarita, Blackberry Lime Glaze, and Bourbon Maple Bacon. The bakers also love unexpected combinations; previous standouts include a Brown Butter Glaze Lobster donut and a Honey Glaze Buffalo Chicken donut.
As the pop-up’s name implies, these bakers like to incorporate spirits. Events at Deacon Giles Distillery in Salem have offered the chance for Werner to use the distillery’s rum and gin in her recipes.
Speakeasy’s donuts are as much a feast for the eyes as they are for the mouth. Werner’s meticulous attention to detail and devotion to coming up with aesthetically pleasing and artistic designs are what drives her. The art of the donut is something that remains critical to what Speakeasy is about, and Werner doesn’t see this changing anytime soon. “Quality comes before quantity” when it comes to these small-batch artisanal donuts, which contain no artificial flavors or preservatives. This venture has been something that “has been extremely satisfying for us personally,” says Werner. “Feeding people is a true pleasure.”
Much like actual speakeasies of years past, buzz about this shop gets around largely by word of mouth, and social media has become a place for Werner and Raynes to preview recipes and let followers know where they’ll be popping up next. They’ve also started a Speakeasy Donut Box Club, where they bake and deliver a limited number of donut boxes. Each box contains six large donuts: two simple, two fancy, and two extra fancy. Customers can sign up and a box of donuts will be delivered to their doorstep on a designated Sunday morning. They also create custom donuts for special events and parties, from unicorn donuts to whatever the customer desires. For this team, the fun lies in the challenge of flavors and designs, and the joy the donuts bring to those who enjoy them. And while these mini works of art are almost too perfect to eat, rest assured they won’t last long at any gathering, even (and perhaps especially!) if you find yourself alone with one of Speakeasy’s donut boxes.
Speakeasy Donuts Pop-Up Shop