The owners of Lawrenceville Market House, a former bank building located at 4112 Butler St., are betting dollars to donuts that people will like their new business. Correction: businesses.
Brothers Brian and Irwin Mendelssohn, principals of Botero Development, are opening Oliver’s Donuts, a cafe that will anchor the upstairs co-retailing space at Lawrenceville Market House. When the cooperative concept opens in November, it will feature nine companies selling everything from home goods and clothing to food, beverages and art.
“We’re excited for this to be a prime location for local businesses,” Irwin Mendelssohn says. “It exposes them to a broader community in the heart of Lawrenceville.”
Entrepreneurs sign a month-to-month lease with a minimum occupancy of three months. They can put down roots or use the spot as a springboard to their own brick-and-mortar shop. Each customizable station varies in size and has a lockable storefront. Required hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but proprietors can also choose to adopt the daily schedule of Oliver’s Donuts, which is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Named after Brian Mendelssohn’s late cat, the café specializes in large cake doughnuts. There will be eight kinds of donuts available year-round, including four core flavors — Chocolate Sea Salt, Huckleberry, Vanilla Glaze and Maple Bacon — along with a rotating lineup of seasonal sweets.
The Mendelssohns hired pastry chef Erika Bruce, owner of the online bakery Le Beau Gateau, to formulate recipes with help from the Center for Regional Agriculture, Food and Transformation at Chatham University (CRAFT). Located at the university’s Eden Hall Farm campus in Gibsonia, CRAFT at Chatham offers programs aimed at driving change within the food system through support, research, education and intervention.
All-natural ingredients are locally sourced as much as possible, and the doughnuts are made fresh throughout the day. The café’s logo was designed by the 12-year-old daughter of Brian Mendelssohn’s neighbor. As payment, she receives a free donut each time she visits.
Patrons can sit inside the cafe, on the back patio or pick up an order at the takeout window located on Main Street (near the neon sign).
If you can’t wait until November to try the treats, Oliver’s Donuts will host a pop-up at the Lawrenceville Farmers Market on Oct. 5 from 3 to 7 p.m.
Donut lovers can pair their pastry (and other brunch items) with a cup of coffee. Harrisburg-based roaster Elementary Coffee Co. provides the beans for both Oliver’s Donuts and Fulton Commons, the Mendelssohns’ kitchen incubator, artist studio and coworking space in Manchester. Brian Mendelssohn is also founder of Row House Cinema and Bierport, located across the street from Lawrenceville Market House.
Phase II of the Lawrenceville Market House project will include a restaurant and bar on the lower level. The immersive eatery’s décor and menu are inspired by the work of director Tim Burton, specifically his flick starring a beloved Pittsburgher. It’s slated to open in 2022.