LOS ANGELES: Dunkin Donuts coming to town…Cambodians unimpressed?


A new doughnut chain will be coming to Los Angeles. Dunkin’ Donuts has announced that it will open stores in 2015 here in L.A. and around California.

The question is whether it will fare better than other chains who’ve had difficulty competing with the vast Cambodian-immigrant doughnut-shop network that dates to the late 1970s and early 1980s.

I told the story of how it is so many independent doughnut shops in Southern California are owned by Cambodians (well, Chinese-Cambodians really), from a country where doughnuts do not exist, in a tale about Ted Ngoy, the ill-fated Cambodian Doughtnut King, whose ambition led to his great rise and spectacular fall from grace.

Doughnut shops allowed those Cambodians who owned them to work their way into America — forcing them to speak English, deal with city halls and business licenses and landlords — in a way that other (mostly Khmer) Cambodians often did not.

Cambodian doughnut shops almost led to the downfall of Winchell’s. It’s also possible that Cambodians may be tiring of doughnut work, which requires owners to get up at 2-3 a.m. and where the profit margins are slim. Still, everywhere I go, independent doughnut shops remain owned by Cambodians.


Filed under Business, Culture, Global Economy, Los Angeles, Migrants, Southern California

2 Responses to LOS ANGELES: Dunkin Donuts coming to town…Cambodians unimpressed?

  1. chris farrell

    I remember those cambodian owned donut shops in Berkeley! I’m a fellow barringtonian! keep up the good work. my blog is inclementreality.blogspot.com …I feel like I’m starting to be writer too..as in, maybe I can get published. I’ve always been writing.
    chris farrell

  2. Thanks, Sam, for linking us up with your fine L. A. Times piece on the rise and fall of California’s _other_ “Donut King” (the first, of course, being Verne Winchell, whose fiefdom of fat-fried sweets sprang up in Temple City in 1948). Though I’ve been on the qui vive for your bylines ever since your days at Pacific News Service, I somehow missed that one.

    It was a somber, saddening chapter that closed the book on Ted Ngoy’s success story. Gambling will do that—to the best and worst of us. Better never to cross a casino’s threshold; no one can live very long in a house of cards.

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