WeHo’s Glazed Donut Bistro, Faced with Allegations of Homophobia, Teeters Near Closing

Glazed Donut Bistro, West Hollywood restaurantThe most popular donut shop in LA? Well, not for long.

Glazed Donut Bistro opened on Santa Monica Boulevard near Palm in the heart of WeHo’s Boystown on Feb. 13. It had to close early that day because it was overwhelmed with customers who gobbled up such odd treats as beignets stuffed with fried chicken.

Eventually Glazed Donut was able to stock up and resume its normal operating hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and a split shift of 11 hours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays that kept it open until midnight.

Now keeping donuts in stock isn’t Glazed Donut’s problem. Instead it’s figuring out how to bow out of a neighborhood that Glazed Donut employees says its owner was uncomfortable with because of its LGBT population.

Recently the donut shop closed completely for two weeks. About two weeks ago, a sign was posted on its window alleging it owed about $9,000 in back rent. It now is open again, but according it its website it’s only from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays through Sundays (It’s closed all day on Mondays and Tuesdays). Rumor has it that owner Harry Ben-Zvi has sold the lease to a Greek restaurateur.

What happened? Employees of Glazed Donut reached out to WEHOville with a host of complaints, including that the “artisan” (aka “handmade”) donuts sometimes were mass-produced frozen donuts defrosted in the back of the shop before being served to unsuspecting customers. They also complained that the temperature in the kitchen was in the 90s and that food wasn’t stored safely.

One ex-employee said he filed complaints with agencies such as Cal-OSHA and the LA County Department of Public Health. The health department confirmed that a complaint was filed on June 6, with an inspection following on June 10. The health department said its inspection did not find evidence of any of the alleged violations.

Then there were the concerns about Ben-Zvi’s alleged homophobia that were raised by three former employees, who asked that their names not be used. Another employee, who was willing to speak on the record, is Bernie Guzman, a former chef at Glazed. Guzman said that Ben-Zvi and his father opened the restaurant without realizing it was in a gay neighborhood. Guzman said Ben-Zvi upset the largely gay staff with some of his remarks. For example, he said, when the song “Dancing Queen” came on the radio, Ben-Zvi made a joke about it being the WeHo “theme song.” Guzman said that Ben-Zvi also made fun of transgender people and said they were mentally challenged.

“They didn’t really belong in that community,” said one former employee of Ben-Zvi and his father. “He [Ben-Zvi] wasn’t careful about things he said … I just don’t think they belonged in West Hollywood.”

In an email response to questions from WEHOville, Ben-Zvi denied the allegations of homophobic behavior.

“I chose to open a new donut themed eatery in West Hollywood precisely because of this city’s diversity,” he said.

“Our staff is as diverse as any eatery in this city. The front of the house staff consists of four men, four women.To the best of my knowledge, five are gay and five are minorities. The kitchen staff consist of seven men, four women.To the best of my knowledge, three are gay and nine are minorities. I say ‘to the best of my knowledge’ because I have never cared to ask, and any such information came up in conversation. All staff (regardless of gender or sexual orientation) are treated equally.”

Ben-Zvi also said Glazed Donuts had donated food to the city’s Rainbow Key Awards ceremony, which honors LGBT people, and to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an organization whose members perform in drag to raise money to fight sexual bigotry.

“Regarding frozen donuts,” Ben-Zvi said, “in preparation for Pride … we realized we did not have the capacity to serve the anticipated business for Pride Weekend. The only way to meet that capacity while protecting consistency and allowing us to serve a great artisan donut without raising prices was to bring in a limited amount of frozen donuts.”

Ben-Zvi didn’t respond to questions from WEHOville regarding the possible closing of Glazed Donut Bistro.

  1. I am a gay man. I love donuts. I was in that store several times and NEVER experienced this alleged “homophobia” nor do I believe it for ONE SECOND. I also thought it was delicious. I think it would be pretty hard to open a shop dead center in the GAYEST NEIGHBORHOOD ON EARTH and not know it’s a gay neighborhood. And the “Dancing Queen” joke? You know what everyone, lighten the f— up. I make worse jokes than this every day of my life. In what possible way was that joke damaging to anyone? These people sound like good people and it’s a shame they couldn’t keep the store going, because it had a great concept, and the stuff I sampled was delicious.

  2. I kept giving this place an chance. And stopped. The donuts are nothing special at all. A few times, they tasted at least day-old. And once, not during pride, I heard the staff talking about holding frozen donuts and defrosting the next day. Sorry, not my kind of food service. In any neighborhood.

  3. Don Azars, do you know the owners? Did you hear them say anything homophobic? Wow, I am sick to death of you soap box gays in Weho, trying to destroy anyone who utters one word you do not like. I have been in there many times, and the owner could not have been nicer or more gracious. I think the Dancing Queen comment is highly appropriate, sheesh, get a sense of humor, for pity sake. I am sorry they are having trouble.

  4. It shouldn’t matter where the store is. HOMOPHOBIC behavior has no place in our country ANYWHERE. If Ben-Zvi’s personal attitudes/believes are anti-equality that’s his problem and he needs to keep his hate mongering to himself.

  5. very, very sad that ex employees will go and talk about a job that help them pay their bills even if was for a short time , I worked at Glazed since day one and found not only an amazing boss but good generous hard working people wanting to bring something different to the community ,and till today I walk in the shop like is my house .so shame on you ex employees hope your life gets better soon .SO HARRY AND JAN ,THANK YOU ,for the time and opportunity to work for you, my respect for you for you is much bigger then all the negativity from unhappy people ,GOOD LUCK MY FRIENDS .

  6. I looked in there ONC several months ago and was startled to see that one very regular donut would cost me a quick $5.00 so I knew it wasn’t for me. Now, I’m glad I saw that as a warning…and never returned.

  7. Dear Harry (son) and Jan (dad),

    It’s been great getting to know you both. Thank you for the hundreds of boxes of donuts that you gave to me to deliver free of charge to the senior citizen centers, the many non-profits, homeless organizations and the city boards and commission meetings. It is an honor to get to know both of you these past few months.

    I know that you are both equal opportunity friends with gigantic hearts. I feel your friendship with your many warm hugs and heartfelt love of people- all of them. I’ve enjoyed laughing with you and watching the both of you embrace our community and it’s gay – bisexual – and transgender elements. It’s just damn sad that you have been judged unfairly.

    Your rainbow donuts were smash hits at the Rainbow Key Awards and you can rest assured that you have made many friends in our community. Congratulations on your new baby boy. Perhaps people should know the reason you closed for two weeks is to be a good dad and husband while your wife delivered and that the reason you close early each day is due to ABC regulations concerning the on-site designated manager required and the difficulty opening a business from 8am till late hours while your heart was at home and you were not driven by the dollar.

    More than that as your neighbor I can speak to unusual slow business conditions on the boulevard. No daytime traffic. And weak traffic most nights except weekends. Over the last year since the parking meters till midnight went into effect our business paradigm has also changed. My neighbors are also struggling and even some of the neighbor bars have been closing on some weekday nights even in peak summer season. I too have to struggle to make a decision on how to approach the future. Our store lease is up in 45 days and we too will be gone unless we find a new way to survive. Our lease renewal based w CAM charges that include the sale of our building and the property taxes attributed to the tenants is a burden that is difficult to handle. Our landlord has given us a 6 month extension and an announcement will be coming soon.

    Good luck Harry- and Jan- hope to know you for many years to come. Thanks for investing in our community.

  8. The owners were clueless from the get-go. This should have been a no-brainer magnet for drunk club patrons, but they closed at 8 or 9 p.m. Did they ever take the time to poke their heads out of their asses long enough to see how busy Yogurt Stop gets after midnight? Homophobia is the least of their problems when they clearly have zero business sense. Talk about a lost opportunity!

  9. We had a few donuts when it first opened and we were wholly unimpressed. With the high rent and very specific type of goodies sold there it was obvious to me that it wouldn’t last. So it’s eminent closing is no surprise. I wish the owner better luck. I wish Tango Grill would come back!

  10. This sounds like a lot of nonsense. It takes months to find a location, and build a business, there is no way they didn’t know it was a gay neighborhood. The joke about dancing queen being our anthem, is just that a joke. As a community we need to lighten up a little bit, while I don’t think it’s a great joke, it’s still a joke. Bernie Guzman willing to talk to the press…well color me shocked. Let’s take everything he says with a grain of salt, he has never had credibility and just wants to be relevant, sadly he is not.

Comments are closed.