Off Campus

SINBUN to bring fresh buns to new location this fall

SINBUN to bring fresh buns to McCarthy Mercantile this fall

Q&A: Jake Lastrina discusses the unique bakery he opened with his wife Bri Lastrina is moving into The McCarthy Mercantile.

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SINBUN, a local bakery offering a wide variety of flavored buns, is planning to relocate to the McCarthy Mercantile in downtown Syracuse.

The sight and smell of a warm, glazed cinnamon bun is a treat familiar to many. Jake and Bri Lastrina realized that as widely loved as the desert is, there was not a whole lot of innovation toward the delicacy.

This inspired the Lastrinas to launch SINBUN in 2022, a restaurant that offers a variety of sweet and savory buns inspired by common foods. The restaurant originally operated out of the Salt City Test Kitchen, serving up unique items like the BLT Bun and the Steak and Cheese Bun. 

Now, one year after its founding, the bakery is set to move from the local ghost kitchen to The McCarthy Mercantile.

The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

How did you come up with the concept for the buns?

JL: We think an innovative take on the sweet, classic cinnamon bun. And for that same reason, we substitute all of those sweet ingredients and roll up the dough with savory fillings. For example, we just launched our cheeseburger buns. So instead of that cinnamon sugar roll-up, we use ground beef, a blend of cheese and garlic herb butter, and then bake it just like a cinnamon bun. And we top it off with kind of like a deconstructed burger on top. And it has the flexibility to expand any type of familiar, approachable food, like pizza toppings or calzones. It’s really just a new format to enjoy favorite food combinations. 

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Jake and Bri Lastrina, co-founders of SINBUN.

Was there a direct inspiration to combine them rather than having them as separate offerings?

JL: The co-founder, Bri, who’s my wife, we have shared experiences in the food and beverage world, more in consumer packaged goods, like found at grocery stores. So we’re really into early-stage startups. We always knew we wanted to start something. We were kind of trained in those [consumer packaging] roles to find segments in the market or on the shelves where there just hasn’t been any innovation, whether it’s like a new beverage or snack we see that hasn’t really been innovated in a long time.  

Then, we kind of had it in the back of our minds. We gathered around the holidays enjoying cinnamon buns and just realized it was a very lacking innovation industry that hadn’t seen anything new. And we both lean toward the savory side and are kind of self-taught cooks, so we wanted to kind of reach those ideas and come up with something completely new. 

We wanted to reach a lot of different snacking and meal occasions. Part of the benefit of working in the ghost kitchen is we tested there because it was such a new concept. We weren’t sure if the savory buns would resonate with people and there still is an educational hurdle to overcome, but we tested out a breakfast bun.  

We want to hit all occasions where people are gathering to celebrate, whether it’s a brunch or a birthday, dinner, or Super Bowl parties. We wanted to make sure we had offerings for all different types of occasions. 

Is one of your primary goals to accommodate customers for different times of need?

JL: Yeah. We are extremely innovation-driven. We’re very motivated to just put out the most unique and creative food offerings that we can come up with. So innovations that we have are huge motivators, as well as, as you said, trying to hit different meal occasions.  

We want to lead with innovation because, down the line, one of our goals is to not only be identified by our buns, but there are potential product line extensions in the future, too. We’re all about innovation. Whether it’s a bun or something a little bit different, we want to lean on that core value. We’re innovators and always put out the best possible product we can. 

On your website, it says, “At SINBUN, there are no cheat days, only treat days. You work hard, and life is too sweet not to savor.” Would you say that also echoes another one of your goals?

JL: Yeah, I think our goal here is putting out a product that’s meant to be enjoyed with others around moments of celebration, and really just moments to treat yourself. We’re full calorie, full sugar, so it is kind of the opposite end of the spectrum of the health and wellness trends that we’ve seen, but we really just want to create a food experience that people can share. 

Did you imagine around a year after opening, you’d be moving to a bigger location like The McCarthy Mercantile so soon?

JL: It was always the goal, but I guess when we started at the ghost kitchen, we approached it as a test. We really had no idea how this product would resonate with customers. That was a good stepping stone for us to prove what our concept actually is.  

The goal was always to go to brick and mortar, but really, we’re taking it step by step, and we needed that proof of concept and make sure customers would demand it. And then the mercantile seemed like a perfect opportunity because we were testing for about a year and have a strong cult following, especially at SU. The campus has been a huge supporter for us. 

Did the campus reception specifically give you guys the message, “These are selling out like hotcakes. We should probably find some ways that could accommodate us,” or was there a bigger overall customer response you saw?

JL: The majority of our orders were through third-party apps [like] UberEats, GrubHub and Postmates. On those platforms, it was the majority younger demographic, a lot of them driven by SU. We see younger kids who want buns, and then the older generations also just have this really nostalgic tie to classic cinnamon buns. So the great thing about our product is that literally everyone has some sort of experience with them and loves them. 

What do you hope SINBUN IS able to accomplish in The McCarthy Mercantile, where there ARE other creatives located next to your store? 

JL: Yeah, it’s a really unique space, and that’s what drew us to it. We loved the environment that it created. It also seemed like the next logical step for us to scale. Kind of going from a shared ghost kitchen to a food hall style versus making a jump directly into standalone brick and mortar. What we’re looking forward to is just being part of that hall with different vendors. So, it’s more of a community-focused space.  

Is there a grand opening day set? 

JL: We don’t have a hard date set yet. We are still working through our build-out. This is our first time going through it. So yeah, we’re not quite comfortable setting a hard open date just because we’re a little unfamiliar with permitting and realistic build-out dates, but we are hoping to be open at the end of this month. 

We are excited to make Syracuse sweeter. We’re excited to bring this product forward. We are also looking for enthusiastic team members, so we’re expanding our team, and we’re looking for the right people to join our mission.