What does it take to make doughnuts? Not much, if your goal is quantity over quality. But for Josh Schwab, a doughnut maker with a culinary background and a creative spark, building the perfect doughnut proved expensive, time-consuming and ultimately exhausting.
"I set out to do something a little bit different," says Schwab, who is closing his eight-year-old doughnut business, Glazed & Confuzed, at the end of the year. "Waking up early every morning, coming up with new flavors — I always tried. I cared so much about the doughnuts."
So when he read online complaints about the price of his doughnuts, Schwab wanted to set the record straight. He's not shutting down Glazed & Confuzed because of a lack of customers, but because he's simply burned out. "It's hard for me to say goodbye," he notes. "It's not like I needed to go out of business. I just need to step back, spend time with my family and get my creative juices flowing again."
Glazed & Confuzed sells gourmet doughnuts that ring in at $3 or $4 each, which can induce a little sticker shock if you're used to picking up your dozen at the grocery store or one of the national chains, where "everything comes out of packages, so you end up with a super-cheap doughnut," Schwab explains.
But his doughnuts are not only loaded with frostings, custards, jams and toppings made fresh every day from real fruits, nuts, bacon and other ingredients, but they are about double the size of a standard doughnut, he points out (try eating more than one or two and you'll get it). "I came from Roy's [in Hawaii], where I learned how to make sauces and make food taste really good," the chef adds. "I come from a restaurant background, so I know how to price food. And I only hired chefs; I wanted people with enthusiasm and creativity, and that comes with a price tag, too."
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For a long time, baking was its own reward, but running a business with a dozen employees was far more stressful, especially when combined with the early hours and high standards expected of his team. Schwab says the hardest part was finding qualified cooks interested in working graveyard hours. But the stress was worth it for a long time, especially because of the loyal customers, one of whom once told him, "I haven't had a doughnut like this since my mom owned a bakery."
Schwab also prides himself on his vegan and gluten-free doughnuts, noting, "I worked on the gluten-free recipe for seven years. We were one of the only companies to fry gluten-free doughnuts."
Glazed & Confuzed has called the Stanley Marketplace, at 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, home since 2017, and Schwab says the support has been great. "From the owners to the other restaurants, everybody's been super-supportive. That's going to be the saddest part of closing," he states. "But I wanted to leave on top and with a good reputation — and I think I've done that."
Glazed & Confuzed will continue to sell doughnuts until December 31 at the Stanley, and then Schwab plans to step away from the food service industry for a while. But he leaves a little hope for fans of his demented and delicious doughnuts with a parting word: "They're not gone for good."