Parisian Living

Expat Entrepreneurs in Paris: Boneshaker Donuts

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 Donuts!

Left: Boneshaker Donuts owner Amanda Bankert, wearing a black v-neck top, with a short bob haircut and bright red lipstick; right: a display of chocolate covered donuts displayed at Boneshaker Paris.
Left: Amanda Bankert by Dan Spigelman / Above & Right: Eileen Cho

I recently sat down with Boneshaker owner and head baker, Amanda Bankert, to discuss how the idea to open a donut shop in the heart of Paris came to be 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.

What inspired you to open Boneshaker Donuts?

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 cappuccino being poured at Boneshaker Donuts; Right: a box of four different varieties of donuts from Boneshaker Paris.
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 donut 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 donuts.”

What was your experience like adapting to the food industry and culture in Paris? 

I feel like restaurant culture is similar the world over. You work long hours, you’re passionate about what you do, it’s messy and often dramatic and sometimes tedious. It attracts the best, weirdest people, in my opinion. I’ve worked in restaurants since I was 15 – I can’t imagine doing anything else. 

Now that you’ve been running your own business for several years, is there anything you would have done differently if you had the chance? 

I have no background in business – I studied art history and poetry at school, and then started making cakes for a living. If I were to start again, I’d make sure to partner with someone with a firm understanding of the financial aspect of running a business. I tend to learn everything the hard way – very effective, not the easiest, haha. 

Left: A line of people out the door in front of Boneshaker Donuts in Paris on a cold, rainy day; right: another line of people outside Boneshaker Paris, this time on a sunny spring day.
Boneshaker Paris

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 no’s. 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.

Don’t give up. Keep a positive attitude, push hard, and be patient. 

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.

An iced, filled donut on a cooling rack while a person sprinkles crunchy speculoos over the top along with two un-iced donuts cooling on the rack as well.
Eileen Cho

Vegan Donuts and Sweet Treats in Paris

*Update* Since we published this article, Amanda has since revealed that she sneakily transitioned the shop to being 100 percent plant based! Perfecting recipes one by one, the donuts, cinnamon rolls, brownies, profiteroles and all other treats at the shop are now vegan. Read more about the transition and her new cookbook Voilà Vegan. It’s out now and available to order.

Written by Jessica Johnston for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long or short term, or buy in France? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.

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

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One comment on “Expat Entrepreneurs in Paris: Boneshaker Donuts

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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