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Once a month at Rosemary Square in West Palm Beach, 250 sugar-starved weekend customers queue up outside the Salty Donut’s distinctive green camper and buy out the pop-up’s tantalizing guava and cheese, and white chocolate tres leches doughnuts.
The Miami-raised doughnut shop has been teasing its permanent arrival since October as supply chain woes forced delays on a new 1,927-square-foot storefront behind the camper. Now the gourmet confectionery says construction will wrap within weeks and the new shop will debut later this summer at 700 S. Rosemary Ave., Suite 200.
“We wanted to stay top of mind because the opening is taking forever,” says owner Andy Rodriguez, who cofounded the Salty in 2015 with his partner – and now wife – Amanda Pizarro. “The people are really seeking us out.”
When it opens, the 28-seat Salty – the chain’s sixth location – will feature a take-out order window and a full bakery beckoning with treats ranging from traditional to cheat-meal sinful: glazed, cinnamon and brown butter, prickly pear margarita and maple bacon. For now, Rodriguez says, more Salty Donut pop-ups will keep the momentum going on March 25-26, April 23-24 and May 14-15, from 10 a.m. until sold out.
And they do sell out – always, Rodriguez says. Even when the Salty Donut was a scrappy aloha camper puttering around a Wynwood parking lot – the food truck was their lone kitchen – Instagram and word-of-mouth drew hundreds of hungry Wynwoodites to the pop-ups. What enchanted locals most were the bakery’s small batches of 24-hour-raised brioche doughnuts, the pilgrimage to pick up a dozen before they inevitably sold out, and liquor-spiked versions for adult customers.
“They were our amazing, fun beginnings,” Rodriguez says. “And we continued the tradition. We have four campers now that go all over the country and do private catered events. It started as a necessity but now we use them for pop-ups.”
The doughnut chain has since exploded in popularity, adding permanent storefronts in Wynwood, South Miami, Orlando, and two in Austin and Dallas. In 2018 the web publication Thrillist, for what it’s worth, christened them among the “31 best donut shops in America.” That same year, Forbes’ “30 Under 30″ list added Pizarro to its lofty ranks.
These days, Rodriguez is more like a powdered sugar-nosed Tony Montana presiding over a growing chain of decadence. Every two months, he and Pizarro fly from their home in Miami to the Salty’s test kitchen in Dallas’ trendy Bishop Arts District. They sit at boardroom tables, meet with a battalion of pastry chefs led by their full-time “director of pastry innovation,” Audry Scheib, and get down to the serious business of sampling 80 experimental flavors, one after another.
“It’s a ton of fun but it’s also super-serious, and there’s a lot riding on these meetings,” Rodriguez explains. “We’re playing around with pastries that aren’t doughnuts. We’re asking questions like, ‘Are we going to do a horchata one in Dallas and a coquito one in Orlando?’ And, ‘How do we market them?’ It’s a cool and humbling experience.”
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Rodriguez says he started looking at Rosemary Square weeks before the pandemic hit, and looked at the same time for space around Fort Lauderdale’s Flagler Village north of downtown. But if Fort Lauderdale offered a confusing sea of indifferent landlords, Rosemary Square had just one developer-owner: Related Companies.
“It’s an easier thing to convince a landlord who already wants you there over one who doesn’t care,” he says. “Related built this great center of gravity in Rosemary Square, and they know how to market it, which is why they have hip brands like Sweetgreens and Pura Vida.”
Salty Donut’s menu is still being finalized – each doughnut shop has flavors tailored to the city it serves – but so far there will be guava and cheese, white chocolate tres leches (a rum-punched three-milk mixture, crusted on the bottom with white chocolate and finished with torched meringue) and cookies and cream (a vanilla-bean cake doughnut glazed with Oreo crumbs and maldon salt).
The shop, decorated with with what Rodriguez calls “beachside cafe vibes,” also sells coffee and espresso, along with over-the-top flavors such as maple and brown sugar cold brew, cinnamon cereal milk lattes and matcha-lemonade teas.
The Salty Donut, at 700 S. Rosemary Ave., Suite 200, in West Palm Beach, will be open this summer. Go to SaltyDonut.com.