It had been awhile since my last visit to Frittelli’s, Alison Winston’s European style doughnut shop that debuted in Beverly Hills in November 2006. No surprise, Frittelli’s still serves some of the best doughnuts in town.
Winston, a self-taught doughnut artisan, grew up in Los Angeles and Newport Beach. She has fond childhood doughnut memories, saying, “I used to float around on my dinghy in the water with doughnuts and Archie comics.” As an adult, she found chain stores “dirty, gross and uninviting. That’s why doughnuts had a bad rap as junk. Part is ingredients, and part is ambience. As a consumer, it’s about sight and smell.”
To get what she wanted, Winston decided to “take the doughnut upscale, with better ingredients.” Toward that end, she uses “high quality ingredients, Callebaut chocolate, real fruit. Nothing comes pre-made in tubs. No chemicals. Boston cream and lemon curd are homemade from scratch. Other shops buy everything pre-made.”
Winston decided to locate Frittelli’s in Beverly Hills because she lives nearby and initially had to be at the shop constantly to oversee construction. She also likes the location’s visibility, and that it allowed for neighborhood celebrities to become fans. Tastemakers help drive business.
Winston decided on her shop’s name by blending the words “fritter” and “fratell” (Italian for brother). She added an “I” at the end because she likes it when words end in vowels.
Winston created an inviting vibe by offering chess, Monopoly and magazines, encouraging people to linger.
Coffee and doughnuts are a classic combination, and Frittelli’s takes the partnership seriously. They tout their Campesino Blend, “a proprietary espresso blend developed by our roast master” used in caffè lattes, cappuccini and espresso drinks.
When Frittelli’s first opened in 2006, I was surprised at what a value the doughnuts were given the neighborhood and high-quality ingredients, only a buck apiece. Thanks to a nose-diving economy, prices for commodities like wheat and dairy have risen 25-30%. Given Winston’s continued commitment to high end ingredients, and that the cost of gas needed to deliver those ingredients has spiked, Winston was forced to double doughnut prices. On this visit, it cost $2 per doughnut and $3 for the fritter, but considering a Sprinkles cupcake costs $3.25, it’s still relatively reasonable.
Good news for doughnut fans. Winston originally envisioned Frittelli’s as a chain, and plans to open a second branch in another high-traffic area, either on the Westside or Hollywood.
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