Edose Ohen was just that sort of kid. You know the one. The boy who was writing business proposals while you were watching cartoons. The one you bought Sour Patch Kids from with your allowance. The one who didn’t sleep much. The one who would grow up to get an MBA at UH (class of ’13) and become the director of strategy and business development for an engineering services firm. The one who would open Glazed, a donut shop. Wait, what?
A few years ago, Ohen tells us, he was watching an episode of the CNBC show How I Made My Millions, which happened to be about the founders of Top Pot Donuts, two Seattle brothers who had dreamed big and, well, made millions.
“I knew these guys were on to something that would be big,” said Ohen, grinning as he watched a toddler devour one of his soon-to-be-famous Fruity Pebbles donuts. The self-described serial entrepreneur also guessed that opening a donut shop would be anything but boring, boredom being something that Ohen abhors. Ever the MBA, however, he performed exhaustive research, traveling to New York and Chicago to see how well fancy donut shops had caught on in those cities. Sure enough, he saw lines wrapped around the establishments day and night.
Even better, Ohen observed, “there was nowhere in the South that offers a 24-hour, gourmet donut service. I was embarking on something new that would change things here.”
Glazed, which opened last July on Old Spanish Trail near the Medical Center, has red and black accents, an open kitchen and, of course, lots and lots of donuts. There are the standard-bearers, of course, fluffy yeast donuts painted with a glaze that’s clear and sugary, or chocolate and shiny. But it’s Ohen’s artisanal offerings that have customers raving—toffee donuts and peanut butter cup donuts, brisket donuts, maple-bacon donuts, crème brûlée donuts. There’s even a donut grilled cheese.
As such, hardly a day goes by when the shop’s popular Instagram feed (instagram.com/eatglazed) isn’t showcasing some new creation from the mind of Ohen. Social media, he says, was instrumental in his quest to build a large audience quickly. In fact, it worked too well. During Glazed’s early days last summer, some patrons found themselves waiting up to 45 minutes for a donut. The online reviews were predictably brutal.
Ohen saw it all as a learning experience. “This business is one of the most difficult to do, because you have to offer the same quality of product for 24 hours,” he said. “You’ve got to be willing to make the adjustments necessary to meet the demand.”
Another thing the Nigerian-American learned from online reviews: donut lovers can be bigots. That too he took in stride. “There were Yelp reviews out there that essentially said people didn’t want to deal with those Nigerians,” he said, laughing. “It’s so ridiculous that it’s funny, actually. Thankfully, there have been many more people of all backgrounds in the Houston area who have been extremely supportive.”
How supportive? Ohen says that word of his success has traveled far and wide, that he’s gotten offers from potential franchisers in San Francisco and other cities. One call came from a man interested in bringing Ohen’s donuts to China. As for whether they’ll one day be eating donuts with bacon in Beijing, or grilled cheese in Guangzhou, Ohen will say only that he’s hopeful. “We want to grow. Glazed is big, and it’s only going to get bigger.”