Alibi V.28 No.4 • Jan 24-30, 2019 

Made in the Neighborhood

Bristol Doughnut Co. Parks in Nob Hill

Gourmet doughnut shop opens their double-decker bus for business

The Bristol double-decker bus is a new landmark in Nob Hill
The Bristol double-decker bus is a new landmark in Nob Hill
Robin Babb
It’s certainly hard to miss the double-decker bus now parked at the corner of Central and Bryn Mawr. Which is exactly what Coy and Sara Trammel were hoping when they opened up Bristol Doughnut Co.

The couple, who are both originally from Albuquerque, didn’t have any culinary experience before they decided to open the doughnut shop. They were living in Montana at the time, where Coy was working as a pastor at a new church, and hoped to find a way to spend more time together as a family (the couple have three daughters and a son). They saw an unfilled niche in the form of gourmet doughnuts. But they wanted something a little more interesting than the standard food truck for their new venture, so they turned to Craigslist to find something unique.

Finding the old British bus was a brilliant stroke of luck, and the inspiration for their business name (the bus was built by Bristol Commercial Vehicles in Bristol, England). The coffee and doughnut bar lives in the lower story of the bus, while custom wooden seating and narrow tables fill the upstairs. Customers can order from the walk-up window facing Central then take their treats upstairs, where a space heater and the brisk winter mornings combine to fog the wraparound windows dramatically.

The bus officially opened on Jan. 8, but the Trammels have been making doughnuts for a while. They first started selling at their small storefront at Spur Line Supply Co. in Sept. 2017, and both Deep Space Coffee and Little Bear have been stocking their doughnuts. Bristol serves Little Bear coffee at their bus and their Spur Line location, too.

While they got the bus restored and found the ideal location for it, they’ve been experimenting with recipes and growing their staff at The Mixing Bowl, the culinary incubator program at the South Valley Economic Development Center (SVEDC). For right now they’re still making all their doughnuts at the SVEDC kitchen, but hope to one day open their own brick-and-mortar bakery and storefront.

Coy and Sara Trammel in the bus on a cold morning
Coy and Sara Trammel in the bus on a cold morning
Robin Babb

If the bus itself wasn’t high-profile enough, the doughnuts that Bristol makes are about as pretty as they come. A bright purple-pink glaze covers the prickly pear doughnut, and the chocolate red chile toffee doughnut is dripping with a chocolate glaze and speckled with bits of hard toffee. The blackberry gin and jam bombolini (Italian filled doughnut) is another looker, with a delicate powdered sugar coating and a dark, jammy filling fragrant with juniper. I knew gin and blackberries went well together in a glass, so it should be no surprise that they’re delicious together in a doughnut as well.

All the doughnuts they make are prepared with either a classic, cake or brioche dough, each of which provides a unique canvas for different flavor profiles. “A donut is such a flexible commodity. … You could put anything on it,” says Coy as he prepares a pourover for an early morning customer. “We were out eating Italian food a couple of months ago and we had some Italian pudding, budino, and we were like ‘we could put this in a doughnut.’ ” This became the butterscotch budino doughnut in November last year, and the holiday season inspired an egg nog doughnut in December. For the Trammels, the sources of inspiration for new flavors come from far and wide.

These rotating monthly specials allow them to experiment and find out what customers want to see more of. Some experiments, like the prickly pear doughnut, wind up on the permanent menu.

Although one of the Trammels’ goals is to get the doughnut bus mobile enough to cater at weddings and other events, right now they’re ready to pause their rapid growth and see how the new location does for a while. Between the bus, Spur Line, Little Bear and the upcoming new Deep Space location, they have more than enough demand to keep up with—and they’re in the process of hiring new staff as well. “Things are right at sort of the balance of like, what can we accomplish and still have good quality and still keep our sanity and maybe sleep a little bit, too.”

To see what new things the Bristol Doughnut Co. team is making, sign up for their newsletter at bristoldoughnut.co, or follow them on Instagram at @bristoldoughnutco or on Facebook at facebook.com/bristoldoughnutco.

View in Alibi Chowtown Chowtown


3123 Central Ave SE.
(505) 596-0312
http://bristoldoughnut.co

Hours: Mon-Sat 7am-3pm, Sun 8am-3pm
Vibe: Just cute as the dickens.
Alibi Recommends: The Bristol salted butter doughnut, along with whatever the monthly special is.