It took two years for Roxane McCoskey to perfect making loveknots.
The recipe for the light, fluffy pastry smothered in white sugar frosting came from her mother-in-law.
“We would always have them at Christmas,” said McCoskey, whose mother-in-law inherited the recipe from an aunt. “Nobody knows where she got it from.”
McCoskey, however, struggled when she attempted to bake them. Sometimes they were good. Sometimes they weren’t.
"(My mother-in-law) worked with me three different times,” McCoskey said.
The tutelage paid off. For the last five years, McCoskey would sell 600 to 800 of them on Saturday mornings at the Haymarket Farmers Market.
“We started thinking, 'Maybe we can do this full time,’” she said.
She and her husband began looking for a storefront and found one last winter when Lanette Epps decided to sell Sunrise Coffee on South Cotner Boulevard in the Piedmont Shopping Center.
The transition was smooth. Epps, who had owned the coffee shop since 2006, invited McCoskey to work with her in November and then stayed through December after McCoskey took it over.
Two months ago, McCoskey changed the name to Loveknot, commemorating the store’s signature pastry.
So far, Loveknot is a hit, with many of Sunrise’s regular customers still frequenting the shop. It’s a true neighborhood coffee shop, with many of the customers knowing one another and spending parts of their days there.
“It’s kind of like a small-town thing,” said McCoskey, who grew up in Battle Creek.
The big change here is the addition of a convection oven in the kitchen, which allows for McCoskey to bake many of her pastries, including the coveted loveknots.
Sunrise used to outsource its muffins and rolls.
“I’m trying different things,” McCoskey said. “I’ve hired enough people that I have more time to bake.”
She recently introduced her own cinnamon rolls, which are distinct for their abundant glaze topping, brown sugar and cinnamon. They are more dense than many rolls found elsewhere.
Loveknot has continued Sunrise’s breakfast and lunch service.
In addition to homemade pastries -- which range from $1 to $2 -- breakfast features bagels (plain, honey wheat, multi-grain) featuring cheese, egg and either bacon or Canadian bacon. I enjoyed one with bacon and a 16-ounce coffee. It ran me about $6.
The lunch menu includes sandwiches, paninis, quesadillas and salads. Sandwiches and paninis range from $4.50 to $5.50, with choices include chicken salad, grilled cheese and reuben as well as those featuring turkey, ham, corned beef and roast beef.
On Saturdays, the shop sells waffles and biscuits and gravy.
Loveknot’s coffee is from Midwest Custom Roasting in Omaha. The shop offers daily dark, medium and gourmet flavors in addition to decaffeinated selections. The shop also has specialty drinks -- lattes, mochas, espressos, etc.
For a coffee shop, I was quite impressed. It reminded me more of a small cafe than a coffee shop, with the number of choices available. Grade: A
Loveknot is not full service. You order at the counter and wait for McCoskey’s servers to prepare and bring breakfast and lunch choices to you. Coffee -- other than the specialty drinks -- is self-serve, with a kiosk set up near the counter.
The shop may want to consider a dedicated line for its credit card machine. I ran into a bit of trouble on one of my visits when my card failed to go through because the phone was in use. A line began to grow behind me while a server waited to use the machine. Grade: B
Loveknot is spacious, with ample seating throughout, including some soft chairs. Both mornings I visited, the shop was full of regulars visiting and enjoying coffee and rolls. Newcomers will find it quite welcoming. I see why it’s become so popular among the neighbors. Grade: A
The menu has a good selection for non-meat eaters, including the pastries and sandwiches such as grilled cheese and egg salad. There’s also a hummus salad. Grade: B