A police officer was finishing up his order the first time we walked into Glazed, Charleston's newest gourmet doughnut shop. We had to chuckle at the stereotype, but we were even more amused to learn that he bought their very first doughnut, and by day two, he was a repeat customer. "He's probably come in four times since yesterday," says co-owner Allison Smith. If that's not a good recommendation, I don't know what is.
Glazed has only been open a few days, but Officer Sweetooth isn't their only fan. Word is spreading fast about the shop's creative selection of treats, and they're struggling to stay stocked. On opening day, they sold out four times over, and the next few days were the same. While they're still figuring out exactly how many doughnuts they need to serve Charleston's feeding frenzy, they seem well on their way to running a successful business.
Smith, a 2008 graduate of the Culinary Institute of Charleston, noticed Charleston's tragic doughnut drought late last year. She spoke to her boyfriend, software developer Mark Remi, about opening their own shop, and he thought it was a great idea. "No one told us not to do it, so we just went for it," Remi says. They immediately started testing recipes and searching for a space on Upper King Street.
In recent years, trend-watchers have crowned doughnuts as the new cupcake, but Remi and Smith think their shop can withstand fickle food trends. "It is very trendy right now," Smith admits. "We don't want to just be successful for two or three years, but doughnuts aren't really something you can make at home. There's been doughnut shops around forever. So hopefully we're safe there."
Even among their few local doughnut-making peers, Smith says Glazed stands out because they make everything from scratch, from the toppings to the fillings to the dough. "I guess I didn't realize how hard making doughnuts really is until we started doing it," she says. "We thought, everyone does it, right?" Then they found out that most places use pre-made, frozen dough packed with preservatives. Smith and Remi, along with a core group of family members, have been waking up at 2:30 a.m. to make the dough from a handful of basic ingredients. Reps have already come calling to try to sell them pre-made dough, but though they've been tempted, Smith says they're committed to making it fresh every day.
Glazed stocks the standard variety of doughnuts (though they were sold out when we visited), but they really shine with their inventive flavor combinations. Smith is always on the lookout for inspiration, and recent offerings have included a curry doughnut topped with crystallized ginger, a pepper jelly-filled doughnut with cream cheese icing, and a strawberry-filled doughnut with a basil lime glaze made from basil from the courtyard garden. Other gourmet ingredients she's experimented with include dulce de leche icing, berry lavender jam, Mexican chocolate, and thick chunks of bacon. They even plan to regularly invite fans to suggest their own flavors with a monthly Facebook contest. Their first contest, which drew about 75 suggestions before they'd even opened, resulted in the Italian, a doughnut filled with Frangelico ricotta topped with toffee icing.
With most doughnuts priced below $2, Glazed hopes to draw a diverse crowd of foodies and college kids. They're waiting for doughnuts to become as popular as cupcakes at weddings and special events, and they'd also like to work with local restaurants and coffee shops to help fill out their menus.