$100 for a Cronut? Chef to Crack Down on Scalpers
Residents of New York City are famous for getting everything delivered to them—groceries, dry cleaning, Thai takeout at 2 a.m.
And now a new delivery service is cashing in on the latest food craze by bringing the trendy Cronut—the hybrid croissant-doughnut—to people's doors, sparing them the wait in line, which forms as early as 5 a.m. outside the Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo.
The third-party service, Premium Cronut Delivery, which is not affiliated with the bakery, charges a whopping $100 for delivering a single Cronut, $200 for two, or $3,000 for 10 of the pastries. At the bakery, Cronuts sell for $5 each.
The line forms early outside Dominique Ansel Bakery for a Cronut.
(Read More: Cronut Mania Spawns Imitators and a Trademark Rush)
It accepts only five deliveries per weekday, probably because bakery owner Dominique Ansel just lowered the sale limit to two per customer in an effort to ward off schemes just like this one. "Waiting in line for two Cronuts isn't a very profitable business," Ansel told TODAY.com.
Premium Cronut Delivery did not answer requests for comment.
Ansel, who has already personally thrown scalpers out of line, had just heard about the new delivery service when we reached out to him.
"It's funny because I actually don't have much time to stay updated on all this, but a lot of customers will actively come and tell me about scalpers or trademark violators," he said. "I've received newspaper cut outs, e-mails, and even a note in the mail that was signed 'your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.' I'm really flattered by their care, and I know it's coming from somewhere very sweet."
(Read More: Bon Appetit! Start-Ups for Time-Pressed Chefs)
Bakery staff members actively police the line for scalpers, who are easy to spot, Ansel said. "I open the door for everyone every morning at 8 a.m. And I say 'hello' to all my customers. It's only a matter a time before something seems kind of shady."
The first time he met a scalper, Ansel asked what happened to his other Cronuts after the man got back in line—the scalper looked him in the eye and told him he scalped them, Ansel said. "He was obviously drunk, and it scared me to think someone brought second-hand food off of him."
Which leads us to Ansel's major concern about schemers, scalpers and third-party delivery—food safety. "I don't know much about the delivery service, but I do hope they give people some sort of guarantee for hygiene. Here at the bakery, we have to answer to the Department of Health, but once it's out of our doors, I can't guarantee it hasn't been handled or (even worse), left out for days. Cronuts should only be eaten on the day of."
For the most part though, Ansel tries not to get bogged down by all the hoopla and copycats —he's currently busy preparing for the launch of his summer menu, which features creations like the Sunflower Tart, made with passion fruit and apricots.
"I'm a chef, and so I spend most of my time in the kitchen, and [the Cronut] was just one other creation. We didn't do any marketing," he said. "I went to sleep the night before being told there was a small article out on Grubstreet and a photo on the bakery's Facebook site. When I woke up, there were 140,000 links and a note from the journalist that said: 'Our traffic spiked. I'd advise you to make more Cronuts,' " Ansel said with a laugh. "Boy, was he right."
—By Tracy Saelinger, TODAY contributor.