Josh Schwab's doughnuts may be glazed, but he's not confused about where his business is going. After nearly a year of selling doughnuts at farmers' markets and a few cafes, the owner of Glazed and Confuzed Doughnuts is ready to open the doors of a new brick-and-mortar shop this fall. And as his doughnuts grow in popularity, Schwab feels confident that his enterprise is on a roll. "I wasn't trying to be this huge company so quick, but everybody has responded so well to everything that I've done," Schwab says. "I'm blown away."
Schwab is originally from Los Angeles; he attended Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Pasadena, then moved to Hawaii and worked as a baker and later sous chef at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion. When he and his wife decided to find a more affordable place for their family to live, though, they landed in Denver.
Schwab began working at the now-defunct The Hole, one of the first gourmet doughnut restaurants in town. "When I was I kid, my grandpa used to bring me doughnuts all the time so I always had a little love affair with doughnuts," Schwab recalls. "When I got to work over at The Hole, I got to see that you didn't just have to do glaze and chocolate glaze, you could actually do other stuff, which kind of piqued my curiosity. I saw the creativity level, but they were doing their own thing at The Hole."
Schwab left the Hole to go into real estate for a while, but soon found himself revisiting the idea of a gourmet doughnut shop. After The Hole closed, Schwab -- who was still good friends with the owner -- asked him if he could carry on the idea. With his friend's blessing, he made his first batch of doughnuts and took them to a farmers' market. "We sold out and I was like, 'Well, this is probably a good idea,'" Schwab says. "At the second farmers' market I said, 'I won't do it again if I just sell out -- I want people to actually recommend me. If I get two people who come up and say they recommended me, I will do it.'"
That day, four different people told Schwab that they were recommended by a friend, so he decided to stick with the idea.
When the farmers' market season ended, Schwab found himself without a place to sell his doughnuts. Coffee seemed like the obvious pairing, so he looked at coffee shops around the city to partner with. "I started out at this place in Littleton called Jake's Brew Bar. They serve Corvus coffee, they're a big roaster out here," Schwab explains. "So Corvus found me and then they hooked me up with the Weathervane and it's been a love affair ever since."
Schwab also began working with Weathervane Cafe, which opened last fall. According to owner Alex Dahon, people come into his cafe every day looking to get their doughnut fix. "It's so nice when you find a good person who has a great idea and work ethic," Dahon says. "You owe it to yourself and whoever that may be to get involved and be part of that."
Even with his coffeehouse connections, this summer Schwab returned to the farmers' market circuit, where he has learned important aspects of the business. "You learn everything from customer relations to money management to how many doughnuts to make on a day," he explains.
And as Glazed and Confuzed kept growing, one of the lessons Schwab learned was that he couldn't it alone. "The business in the last five months grew so amazingly quick, and I'm more of a kitchen guy, so I really needed someone to work with the numbers, deal with the city, deal with everything else," he says. So now he's partnering with sister-in-law Sarah Hafdahl and her husband, Ben, to open a storefront at 5301 Leetsdale Drive.
"I just feel that this little thing is exactly what the company needed. Everything is just flowing so perfectly," Schwab continues.
The home of Glazed and Confuzed is set to open at the beginning of November. In the beginning, the partners will focus on doughnuts and then see where that leads them. "We have a couple concepts for the store. One is to have our classic section, which will be the Glazed side, and then we're going to have Confuzed side, which we're still trying to decide on," Schwab says.
One idea they've discussed is setting up the Confuzed side like a Chipotle-style restaurant, where people can create their own sweet or savory treat by choosing the type of doughnut, filling, glaze and topping. Another idea is to create high-end breakfast doughnuts, like an eggs Benedict with duck confit.
As his business partners focus on the numbers and the design of the shop -- Sarah Hafdahl has a background in art -- Schwab is cooking up new doughnuts to feature when it opens. "The first one will definitely blow people away, because it's going to be a hybrid of a doughnut and souffle, and basically it's going to come out steaming hot on your plate and when you cut into it it's going to pretty much melt all over your plate," Schwab says. "It is going to be gluten-free, and it's going to change the doughnut world, trust me."
They are also working on a new vegan doughnut, building on the popularity of their gluten-free options. "There's more and more people that come to the farmers' market just for our gluten-free doughnut," says Hafdahl. "They say they don't taste like the other ones they've tried."
But the storefront is not the only move in Glazed and Confuzed's future. The partners plan to expand to other farmers' markets next summer, like Boulder or Arvada. They also hope to buy an ice cream truck and convert it to a doughnut truck. "We're going to drive around the neighborhood and we're going to play Simpsons music," promises Schwab.
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For the full Glazed and Confuzed menu and schedule, visit their website or Facebook page. And don't be surprised if someday soon a truck drives through your neighborhood and you hear Homer's voice saying, "Mmm, doughnuts."