Parisian Living

Expat Entrepreneurs in Paris: Boneshaker Doughnuts

by Jessica Johnston

On any given Saturday, strolling through Paris’ 2ème arrondissement, you’ll notice a long line outside a hole-in-the-wall shop on Rue d’Aboukir. Passersby might take a photo or ask patrons what they’re waiting in line for, and their answer would be Boneshaker Doughnuts!

Left: Amanda Bankert stands facing the camera, smiling. Right: Doughnuts in a window.
Left: Amanda Bankert by Dan Spigelman / Above & Right: Eileen Cho

I recently sat down (virtually) with Boneshaker owner and head baker, Amanda Bankert, to discuss how the idea to open a doughnut shop in the heart of Paris came to be, how they’ve adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more.

Where are you from originally and what brought you to Paris?

I’m originally from Washington, DC. I first came to Paris as an art history student in the early 2000s. I did a year abroad here when I was in college and fell completely in love with the city. Before my first week was over, I knew this was absolutely where I wanted to live. After I graduated from Sarah Lawrence in New York, I decided I would come back here for pastry school, so I enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu and moved back to Paris three days after graduation.

I had an eight-year detour in Ireland (which is a story for another time), then moved back to Paris in 2012.

A baker rolls the dough to make a doughnut.
Eileen Cho
Left: A baker rolls the dough to make doughnuts. Right: Sprinkled filled doughnuts rest on a cooling tray.
Eileen Cho

What inspired you to open Boneshaker Doughnuts?

I worked as a pastry chef in Ireland, making predominately French desserts. When I moved back to Paris, I knew I wanted to open something of my own, but I wasn’t going to do French pastry. There are already plenty of people here doing phenomenal work in that area.

Left: A baker rolls the dough to make doughnuts. Right: Doughnuts frying in the fryer.
Eileen Cho

I had a few ideas, but it all became clear on a trip home to the States when I took my husband, Louis, to this mom-and-pop doughnut shop that I’d been going to my whole life. We were eating and I just thought “God, I wish I could get these in Paris.” It was that quintessential light bulb moment where I thought “Oh, let’s do doughnuts.”

How did you manage the lockdowns in Paris?

A lot of it is day by day. We closed for the very first lockdown almost a year ago now. It was all so new and scary. Then we reopened in May for takeaway only and have just been adjusting to government recommendations from then on. 

The silver lining for us has been that we’ve always been predominately takeaway. As long as we’re able to operate this way, it doesn’t change things for us that much. 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your life and work?

Our business model has always been to bake fresh and in small batches. We learned the hard way that we can’t deviate from that. 

Left: A long line of people outside of Boneshaker Doughnuts in Paris waiting in the snow. Right: A short line outside of Boneshaker Doughnuts in Paris.
boneshakerparis

Saturdays have always been our busiest days and there would be a long queue, but over the last six months, the line has become frequent on other days as well. I think we have a lot more locals who have discovered us, and more people are treating themselves to a cup of coffee and a doughnut to brighten their days! We do our best to accommodate everyone, but I feel really lucky to have this problem. 

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs or people who want to move to Paris?

I’m an avid believer in persistence. I think especially in France, it’s very common to come up against a lot of nos. The most important thing is just not to get too discouraged. 

If you have something that you want to do, whether that’s moving here, or opening a business, just know that it’s going to take a lot longer than you probably planned for. Don’t panic because of delays or negative responses; it’s all par for the course. In my experience, if you push through, there’s usually a way to make it work. But you often have to take the roundabout route as opposed to the straight line.

A baker sprinkles topping on top of a frosted doughnuts on a cooling tray.
Eileen Cho

What are you most looking forward to when travel is possible again?

We usually go back to the States once a year in the summer, with my husband and our three sons (18, 16, and 7). I haven’t seen my family since 2019, which is hard. So as soon as things open up, I definitely think a trip to see the family would be great. 

Left: A baker places a frosted doughnut on a cooling tray. Right: A barista holds a cappuccino.
Eileen Cho

We also had a trip booked to Berlin last year that I’ve had to rebook twice. We’ve tentatively rebooked that for October, so fingers crossed that we’ll be able to go there. 

What can our readers do to support you and your business?

Oh, that’s really sweet. Just come by and say hi! A big part of our business has always been that we adore chatting with our regulars and meeting new people. That’s one of the reasons I got into the hospitality industry in the first place.

Left: A baker holds a tray of uncooked doughnuts. Right: A baker is adding chocolate frosting onto frosted doughnuts on a cooling tray.
Eileen Cho

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Left: A barista is adding milk into a latte to make latte art. Right: A box of four doughnuts from Boneshaker Doughnuts.
Eileen Cho
Written By

Jessica Johnston

Jessica is from Toronto, Canada, where she studied communication and public relations at Ryerson University, and worked in internal communications. She moved in Paris in the summer of 2020 after quitting her corporate job in the pursuit of the Parisian lifestyle. She loves trying new things, discovering new cultures, and connecting with people. In her free time, you can find her trying new restaurants, browsing the skincare section in pharmacies, and spending time in parks across Paris. View Jessica Johnston's Website

One comment on “Expat Entrepreneurs in Paris: Boneshaker Doughnuts

As an American living in Paris, my French husband had never eaten a donut. So when I looked up online to see where I could get some I discovered Boneshakers. What a terrific treat. My hubby loved them and we have been back a few times to get some more. They are excellent and the staff is very nice.

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