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.