Glazed and Infused mixes 40s style with 21st century cooking
06/06/2012 10:00 PM
The West Loop dining scene has grown significantly over the last 20 years, but there’s one thing it’s been lacking. Although it’s got a few Dunkin’ Donuts locations, the West Loop hasn’t had a really good doughnut shop.
That changed on May 21 when Glazed and Infused Doughnuts opened at 813 W. Fulton Market. Founded by Chicago restaurant mogul Scott Harris in partnership with Megan Brown, the shop combines 1940s aesthetics with distinctly 21st century health concerns. And even though it’s only been open for two weeks, Glazed and Infused has already drawn rave reviews from customers and media alike.
Harris is the owner of the Chicago-based Francesca’s restaurant chain and a partner in many other restaurants. Glazed and Infused marks his first venture into doughnut making. According to the shop’s front of house manager, Kaitlin Crowley, Harris and Brown chose the West Loop because it was an “up and coming location.”
While Harris is ultimately in charge of the shop, Brown is the one who handles day-to-day operations. According to Crowley, Brown was the one who came up with the shop’s distinct look.
“Megan Brown loved the 40s,” said Crowley. “The 1940s was the time when the doughnut was in its heyday. It was small, delicious and handmade. Times were hard back then, but they still made great doughnuts.”
The walls are decorated with reproductions of 1940s advertisements, photographs and propaganda posters. The servers’ outfits evoke the period. When Chicago Journal visited the shop, one of the servers wore a dress that wouldn’t be out of place in the mid-20th century, while the other wore an outfit more reminiscent of a World War II factory worker.
“How they interpret the 40s theme is up to them,” said Crowley.
The one part of the outfit that isn’t optional is an orange bandana — a nod to the iconic Rosie the Riveter.
Another interesting part of the Glazed and Infused aesthetic is the furniture. While some of it looks modern and run-of-the-mill, other has more character. Well-worn metal chairs stand near the door, and a healthy wooden table takes up much of the middle section.
“Some of the furniture was reclaimed from barns,” explained Crowley. “We went Craiglist shopping to find the rest. It adds to the atmosphere.”
True to the 1940s aesthetic, the doughnuts are handmade every day. But, at the same time, the chefs that design the doughnuts are well aware that medical science has advanced since then.
They try to make the doughnuts as healthy as possible. The shop’s official website boasts that they use fresh, natural products and trans-fat free shortening.
The resulting doughnuts are just as sweet than their mass-market counterparts, and the fresh ingredients give them a fresher taste.
Glazed and Infused offers a wide variety of flavors. For every conventional flavor like chocolate glazed donuts, the shop offers something like a maple bacon long john — which, as the name implies, is a maple-glazed donut with friend bacon on the top.
Crowley said that Glazed and Infused wants to be more than just a place to get good doughnuts.
“We want to be a friendly neighborhood shop,” she said. “We like to talk to our customers, and we try to be nice and supportive. We want to know what’s going on in the community, and we want to be a part of it.”
Crowley said that, so far, the customer traffic has more than met expectations
“The opening week was phenomenal,” she said. “And it’s still pretty crazy. We get most of customers between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. and around 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. On weekends, we get most of the customers around 11:00 a.m. People like to sleep in.”
Glazed and Infused already has at least one high-profile fan. Amy Atlas, the baking and crafting stylist who writes the popular Sweet Designs blog, came to Chicago to promote her book. She heard that Glazed and Infused had the best doughnuts in Chicago, and she just had to see it for herself.
“I love it,” Atlas told Chicago Journal. “I tried every sample and it was delicious. And I really love the name. Glazed and Infused. That’s really clever.”
Ordinary customers offered similarly glowing reviews. Nicholas Jimenez came into the shop for a job interview with a local company. He didn’t know anything about the shop before he came in, but he liked what he tasted.
“I had a raspberry glazed doughnut,” said Jimenez. “I loved it.”
Even Brendan Sodikoff, a West Loop restaurateur and the owner of highly acclaimed River North-based Doughnut Vault, had nothing but good things to say about Glazed and Infused.
“It’s a great shop,” he said. “The head baker is very talented.”