For 36 years, doughnut lovers in Salt Lake City have been getting in line, either on foot or at the drive-thru, at Banbury Cross Donuts, at 705 S. 700 East — picking up a dozen sweet treats in the pale yellow double-decker boxes.
Last week, Banbury Cross opened a second location, at 330 W. Parrish Lane in Centerville — and the lines formed quickly.
A big crowd was perfectly understandable on the first day of business, a Monday, because the shop was giving out a free doughnut to each customer. Business was so brisk that the shop closed early that first day, because it ran out of doughnuts.
But on the second day, Tuesday, the line still snaked back and forth across the dining room, around a corner and all the way to the back of the building.
On Friday of that week, people were still lining up, so much so that partner Benj Munday only had a few minutes to chat.
Munday said he moved to Utah in 2007, after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and started working in the food industry. Some years later, someone told him Banbury Cross served the best doughnuts in Utah.
“So I went down to Salt Lake, tried the donuts, fell in love with them, and said, ‘I have to be a part of this brand,’” he said. His pitch to the Salt Lake City store’s owners, he said, was simple: “Hey, I want to partner with you to grow and scale this. I think you have something special.”
That conversation, Munday said, started three years ago. After working through the details of the partnership, he said, everything came together last year.
The Centerville doughnut shop uses the original recipe as the Salt Lake City store — which Munday said is key. What sets Banbury Cross apart, he said, isn’t just the quality of the ingredients, but the precise ratio of ingredients, and how the dough is kneaded.
A Banbury Cross doughnut, Munday said, “is like a cloud of sugar, very light and airy.”
Munday compared the doughnuts to making pizza, which he used to do. “When you bite into a pizza, you should taste everything at once, and everything should be a perfect harmony — like you can taste the sausage, the pepperoni, the dough, all at once,” he said. “A Banbury Cross doughnut is like that.… It’s like this perfect explosion in your mouth. …
“It’s perfect — it’s not overglazed, it’s not underglazed, it’s perfectly glazed,” he continued. “A lot of other doughnuts are either overly sugared or they’re overly doughy.”
The shop is meticulous about quality control, Munday said: Doughnuts that aren’t up to snuff or day-old don’t get sold.
Munday said he and his partners in the Salt Lake City shop are looking at more places in Utah to expand, “as good real estate becomes available.” Among the locations on his radar, he said, are Murray, Taylorsville, West Jordan and South Jordan.
The original Salt Lake City shop was criticized last fall, when a sign posted in the drive-thru window the store’s staffing shortages were happening because, “due to government and state handouts no one wants to work anymore.” After the store was dragged on social media — with New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo tweeting a comment that the sign meant “we don’t pay enough for people to want to work here” — the owner took down the sign, telling a KSL reporter that an employee put it up without permission.
In the Centerville shop’s first week, Munday said, the maple bars — a signature doughnut at the Salt Lake City location — have sold out the fastest. The cinnamon crunch and blueberry doughnuts have sold fast, as have the apple fritters, he said.
The new shop is looking to hire more bakers and servers, Munday said, to speed up the process of serving doughnuts — and cut down on the wait times.
“Our motto is to serve happiness, right?” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure that the experience, even outside of the doughnut, is excellent. We want to make enough doughnuts so that everyone can enjoy them.”