Glaze Donuts produces premium quality artisan donuts
Fans of Glaze Donuts would be surprised to hear that when owner Jule Hazou opened shop four years ago, he didn’t know a thing about how to make a donut. But that didn’t stop him from being confident in his ability to learn.
“My wife said, ‘You’re crazy; nobody eats donuts.’ But I disagreed because I believe if you do something good, people will eat it,’ said Hazou.
To give us an idea of how inexperienced he was, he explained that when he first tried to clean the fryer, shortening went all over the store and it took six hours to clean up. He originally only made cake donuts, but eventually brought on another baker who was experienced with making yeast donuts.
“What’s different is that I wasn’t afraid to try new things,” Hazou said of the initial months in business. “I didn’t want to be a ‘me too’ operator. I wanted to be a little more creative, but do things that made sense.”
Hazou referred to certain eccentric flavors seen on Instagram, and Glaze’s store manager Craig recalled being at Donut Fest where someone was selling salmon and caviar on a donut [Editor’s Note: Glaze won the Judges’ Choice at Donut Fest 2016].
“It has to taste good. It can’t just be the novelty of ‘I’m eating caviar on a donut,’” said Craig.
But anyone who has been a Glaze Donut customer at one point knows that Hazou doesn’t shy away from creativity. Of the 120 flavors listed online, there are as many as 55 in the store on a weekend and 44 different varieties on a weekday. He’s created everything from a cannoli donut to mint apple kiwi (that didn’t exactly do well) to sweet Jersey corn. For the Jewish holiday, he’s made latke donuts and who could forget the Italian rainbow cookie?
Much of his inspiration comes simply from suggestions. Both of his daughters inspired the cannoli and the Italian rainbow cookie after asking their father if he could turn their favorite desserts into a donut. Several other flavors have come from him tasting them in another form and testing out the donut version.
“I get these ideas and I just do it. But there’s no fear in doing it,” said Hazou.
While Hazou values creativity, he values his commitment to providing the highest quality donut even more.
“My original thought and philosophy was to make the best product using the best quality ingredients I could find, and I think that’s why we’re so successful because we stay true to it. What started four years ago and what we’re doing today has not changed,” he said.
Though the production of the donut hasn’t changed, the industry certainly has. Hazou believes that when he opened four years ago, donuts as a food trend had not yet existed in New Jersey, and he takes credit for being the one to create it.
Now that he has made a name for himself with national recognition on shows like Good Morning America and in publications like Thrillist and BuzzFeed, Hazou is somewhat of a celebrity. He shared a memory from when he was on vacation in Florida and three people knew about Glaze Donuts. He noted that there are firemen and policemen from Long Island who make the trip once a month, and once there was a group of cyclists who bought a few dozen, took a break only to eat them and biked back to Long Island.
With other donut shops following in his footsteps, Hazou is flattered by the imitation. He acknowledges that he pressures himself to stay ahead of the curve, but it doesn’t come from anybody but himself.
“As a business person, I look at everyone as a competitor because anyone who can take a sale from me is a competitor,” he said. “Who is better? I don’t think there’s anyone out there that’s better, and I mean that sincerely.”
While competition and comparison isn’t a distraction for Hazou, the real struggle for him is that he can’t eat anything he makes. About six months after he opened Glaze, he was diagnosed with celiac. So, often when he puts out a new flavor, if nobody’s around to test it, he relies on his instinct.
Obviously, it’s working. Customers Jennifer and Rob Delcalzo have been going to Glaze ever since they opened and they now treat their 2-year-old daughter Stella to a donut pretty often. They always order for holidays and big parties where the numerous amounts of flavors are usually a topic of conversation.
Jen shares that she doesn’t mind letting Stella indulge once in a while.
“Stella loves to go up to the counter and say, ‘I want donut, please’ and sit at a table and have us share the experience as a family. Food should be about fun and learning self-control, not imposing restrictions,” said Jen.
This type of experience is exactly what Hazou strives for. His number one priority is to be a family-oriented place, as well as for people of all incomes. Eventually, he would like to introduce a vegan and gluten-free donut (made at a separate facility, of course). In time, you’ll see more and more of Glaze.
With plans to franchise, Hazou says he is 100 percent committed to his quality. The ingredients will not change and the donuts will not be frozen. He’s adamant about imposing checks and balances and failure to follow corporate philosophies will result in losing the franchise, he explained.
“When we franchise, I’m going to look for good people. I already made all the mistakes; I learned what not to do. If we select greedy people or people that don’t have a conscious of what they’re putting out there, that’s not for me,” he proudly said.
If you’re a concerned customer, don’t be. Evolving as a business has always been apart of Hazou’s vision. But his commitment to not compromising the value is as much a priority for him. Is it getting a little bit harder to keep up with the industry and create new things? Of course, he admits. But ultimately, Hazou said, “I enjoy what I do.”
Glaze Donuts currently as two locations – New Milford, 358 River Road, and West Caldwell, 554 Passaic Ave. Visit www.glazeartisan.com to learn more.
By Natalie Zisa