The Public Market neighborhood will have a new resident this month with the opening of Boxcar (formerly Boxcar Donuts), a new venture by the owners of Glen Edith Coffee Roasters. More than two years in the making, Boxcar is turning its doughnut business into a full-scale eatery with the opening of its new location (127 Railroad Street) on Saturday, May 20.
The business got its start when Glen Edith co-owner John Ebel grew tired of sourcing the coffee bar's baked goods from third-party suppliers. "We were spending a fortune on pastries," Ebel says.
Inspired by the flamboyant, over-the-top doughnuts popping up in major cities like New York and Los Angeles, Ebel decided try his hand at those big, bold delicacies. Test batch by test batch, the team at Glen Edith worked toward perfecting its doughnut formula which, Boxcar Pastry Chef Rae Cody says, must balance a slightly chewy texture with delicate air pockets and a not-too-oily exterior.
Once the Glen Edith team landed on the recipe, they began selling doughnuts out of Glen Edith's locations on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. With attention-grabbing flavors like maple-bacon and Fruity Pebbles, the doughnuts began selling like ... well, hot cakes.
As the doughnut renaissance gained momentum nationwide, it became clear that the pastry business would need some room to grow. About two years ago, Ebel leased the space at 127 Railroad Street, next door to Rohrbach Brewing and within sight of the Public Market.
The three co-owners — Ebel, Michael Beinetti, and Marc LeBeau — acknowledge that they've had something of a "long runway" on their way to launching Boxcar, but their concept has evolved over the intervening two years. What began as a doughnut and coffee shop has gradually developed into an eclectic day-to-night café with sweet and savory offerings and a range of alcoholic drinks. Along the way, the founders dropped "Donuts" from the company name — a move to better reflect their offerings beyond the fried dough.
The owners have created four "pillars" for Boxcar: the original doughnuts, coffee (roasted by Glen Edith), beer and spirits, and fried chicken. Though the addition of fried chicken to the menu may seem like curveball, the Boxcar team says it's more logical than it seems, given that they've already got the fryers in place for the doughnuts. Head Chef Brennan Cody hints that fried pig ears could make an appearance on the menu. "If you want it fried, we can fry it," he jokingly says. Boxcar will also have a kids' menu and vegan and vegetarian options, says General Manager Paige Auber.
Ebel says that neighboring businesses have been extremely supportive of the new venture, and several collaborations are already in the works, such as beer macaroni and cheese with Rohrbach Brewing, and boozy doughnuts with help from Black Button.
The team at Boxcar hopes the new location will give them to a little room to breathe and an opportunity to push the envelope. The shop plans to offer a dozen doughnut flavors at a time, which will change periodically. Expect offbeat offerings like s'mores and champagne pop rocks, and purists can find glazed and cinnamon sugar. Savory options are on the menu, too: every combo plate will come with a cornbread doughnut.
The larger space will also give Boxcar the opportunity to expand its catering business. The current trend in doughnut walls — a vertical buffet made of pegboard and adorned with doughnuts — has been a boon to Boxcar, especially as wedding season ramps up, and Ebel says, Boxcar has also been approached about corporate events.