The 3-1-5: Paul Valenti

There’s no business like dough business. This past Thursday Paul Valenti and his family’s Glazed and Confused specialty “doughnut” or “donut” shop finally opened up its doors at 211 N. Clinton St. in Syracuse. People have been able to get a taste of the baked goods at various events (including Taste of Syracuse).

The family friendly eatery offers vibrant odors and bright atmosphere, which has been accentuated by local creative Tommy Lincoln.

Paul Valenti at Glazed and Confused. (Photo by C. Malone)

There is speculation about when the first fried dough treats were enjoyed, whether the credit should be given to Native Americans or the Duch immigrants. According to this article via Smithsonian, there was a distinct popularity in the mid-1800s. The craze and name sizzled around the end of World War I.

Needless to say, the donut isn’t going away, which Valenti reassured. Like everything good and tasty, it’s evolved, especially with flavors. Glazed and Confused’s donut “laboratory” boasts a variety of flavors, which will hinder quick decision making. Sharing is also encouraged. Aside the standard favorites we’ve all come to know and love, flavors No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn, The Dizzy Pig and Pardon My French-Toast can be found in the delicious lineup.

“The flavors that you see will be solid for the spring. We’ll be adding rotating flavors weekly, and they’ll be seasonally themed. We’ll be getting into hot chocolate and Christmas-festive donuts,” said Valenti. “We have a wide palate for where were can go with flavors. We can do anything from rosemary and lavender to maple.”

The donut shop also offers gluten-free and vegan options as well. (After trying a gluten-free ring, from a donut lover’s perspective, it was difficult to tell the difference.)

(Photo by C. Malone)

What was the origin story behind opening Glazed and Confused?

Two years ago, in August 2015, on the way home from a family vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Del., our two kids said they wanted to open up a business. They gravitated toward donuts, because there is a stop we always go to on vacation that serves hot, original and fun flavors. My son said that there really isn’t anything in Syracuse. In the six hour car ride they came up with the name Glazed and Confused. We, my wife and I, said we’d make it tangible if they would work the stand and it gave 10-percent back to a local charity.

It was launched at Taste of Syracuse 2016. We served over 14,000 donuts in the two days. In that six-month period, we taste-tested flavors, did a lot of bickering and name branding. It was well-received, and we were getting emails and calls with inquires about location and catering. At that time we were focused on those festivals, including Festa Italiana, weddings and catered a couple events.

We did play tug-o-war with setting up here or in the suburbs. The (Clinton Square) skating rink is right next to us. There will be families attending events there. Hopefully we can play into that. We wanted a spot where families can easily come down on Saturdays and Sundays.

With other speciality donut shops near and outside Downtown, plus bakeries, is there a fear of having too many donuts?

I don’t think we have a direct competitor. There are certainly people that do donuts and we’re friends with them. There’s Just Donuts in Phoenix and Regional Donut Authority in Liverpool. They’re similar to us, but I think we each have our own niche market.

I wouldn’t say the Dunkin’ Donuts of the world are our competitors, even though people enjoy them, but they’ve gone to a frozen product; we’re going to be baking everything fresh, daily.

We wanted a small spot that was on a one-way, where people could pop-in and pop-out. This area was always on our radar. Armory has a lot more traffic, which could have made popping in a little more difficult, so we liked this location.

As more people move downtown, there is more room to expand. People will open up their own businesses, and hopefully we can collectively stay together and collaborate. We’re working with Dinosaur Bar-B-Que on a donut for their dessert menu. If (Glazed and Confused) is well-received, maybe we can open up multiple locations in other markets.

People ask if the donut craze it a trend. It’s been a stable at breakfast and (goes well with) coffee. What’s happened over the years is an explosion of flavors that are making their way to toppings. Is that a trend or not? I’d say that the flavors are trending, but the donut is not going anywhere.

(Photo by C. Malone)

You’ve been consistent with keeping this about family and community.

Our pillar is to give back to the community, and this business is designed to have our kids learn work ethic while we’re pouring back into the community. If we can accomplish those two things, we’ll be successful.

Right now and for the month of December, we’re working with the Rescue Mission. We’ll always partner with someone, so for our friends and family launch we aimed to fill the box with scarves, hats and gloves. At the Taste of Syracuse, we partnered with Paige’s Butterfly Run, which ran into that area. We’re also planning on holding our own donut run-walk through downtown and partner with another nonprofit, but we’re looking to help people when they want to raise money.

Growing up, did you and your family ever make donuts or pizza fritta?

No, but my first job was working at Morey’s Mill (now The Cider Mill). I used to make donuts there.

Now, as a business owner in Downtown Syracuse, what’s it like being a part of this growth and excitement?

It’s pretty exciting. There is a lot of growth. More restaurants are opening up. More people are moving down here. There will be a new mayor with a younger, fresh set of ideas that will hopefully bring that optimism back into the city. I think Ben (Walsh) will do a good job with that. The climate is something that people are excited about.


Tuesday – Friday: 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Saturday & Sunday: 8 a.m.- 1 p.m.

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