This story was originally published in The Daily Cougar. To view the original story, click here.
UH alumnus Edose Ohen knows how to sell donuts. And not the typically glazed donuts — 189 different kinds.
With that ambition, Ohen spearheaded the road to Glazed the Doughnut Cafe, a 24-hour donut shop with a gourmet twist.
“We offer 189 different flavor combinations. That’s how we differentiate ourselves from other donut shops,” said Ohen’s sister and Glazed Co-owner and Administrative Director Ehinor Ohen.
Typically a grab-and-go food, donuts are now being reinvented. The recent trend in gourmet versions of the treat started popping up all over North America – Chicago, Portland, New York, Toronto, and more – in the past few years.
The grab-and-go treat has been reinvented to bring out its gourmet side. Ohen’s shop is part of a trend that some major American cities have taken to.
“About two years ago, I was sitting on my couch. I was watching CNBC and this show came on — How I Made My Million. There was a segment about Top Pot Donuts in Seattle and I was like, ‘People are really selling gourmet donuts?’ These guys were contractors; they didn’t have any donut experience and they opened a coffee and donut shop. So I actually did some research. I went to Chicago, I went to Cali. I went to Portland. I realized it was a very popular trend, as opposed to cupcakes. So I looked around Houston and I realized that there was no other place doing gourmet donuts there. So I was like, ‘You know what? I wanna be the first person to do it’,” Ohen said.
An idea that sprung from the mind of a University of Houston MBA student, it evolved over two years with some help from loved ones. Ohen said the venture was completely funded by family and friends, even though he was originally going to work for his family’s oil and gas business.
“They were very supportive. My sister was the first one to actually buy into the idea. I told her, ‘Houston needs gourmet donuts.’ And she was like, ‘Okay! Tell me what you need.’ From there, I talked to my family and they were all supportive,” Ohen said.
Two years of hard work, sleepless nights, and sweat went into the making of this business. Ohen was more than ready for the shop’s “soft” opening on July 19. A limited menu of lemon poppyseed, maple bacon and bananas foster was on hand. They plan to offer their full menu after their grand opening sometime in August.
“The soft opening was nothing short of amazing. The turnout was unbelievable. I showed up at 5:45 a.m. and there was a line at the door waiting for the 6 a.m. opening. The environment was extremely jovial. You would expect people waiting for two hours to be upset while waiting but because they could watch the donuts being made, everybody was in a happy mood. Everybody was excited. I could not have planned for a better soft opening,” said Co-Owner Omonele Nwokolo.
Glazed offers hundreds of gourmet donuts as well as Colombian coffee, tea, and juice. They make all donuts from scratch in their kitchen, which has a large window through which customers can watch the baking process. Above all else, Glazed boasts their customer-centric approach.
“We will add flavors as people request them. Just yesterday I was there and one of the customers was like, ‘Hey, I have a suggestion. Can you make so-and-so donut?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.’ If we can make it, we will. I forwarded the information to my brother and we talked to the chef and tried to see if we could get that donut on our menu. We’re trying to be very customer-centric. We’re trying to provide what our customers want,” Nwokolo said.
Ohen is very clear about his focus: people. It’s more than a donut shop — Nwokolo said it’s also “a place to hang out, study, relax, and make new friends.” In fact, the menu was even built off of questionnaires that Ohen put together that asked the public what type of doughnuts they would like. With Glazed’s plans for the future, Ohen is making sure to keep the customers front and center.
“We make sure that a market exists for everything we’re gonna offer. We never wanna dictate to the market what we want the market to have. We want the market to tell us what they want. We’re 100% consumer-driven. I don’t want to try to hide things; I want to correct problems. That’s why I like it when people post reviews on Yelp. I want to make sure that what we’re doing here — everybody’s happy with it, always,” Ohen said.
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