Cambodian Donut Shops

A while back I read a fact: that something like 95% of the donut stores in Los Angeles are owned by Cambodians. I remember that it had something to do with a few Cambodians who came to Los Angeles in the seventies, and by doing so they were able to teach that business and trade to new arrivals from Cambodia in the years following. Eventually, they were able to get a strong corner on the market.

Anyways, I recently decided to investigate this idea again and found a few different links talking about this phenomenon. From Asianweek:

The notion that California’s donut stores are predominantly owned by Cambodians may seem bizarre. “Our customers are mostly Caucasians. It is odd that Cambodians are doing this work—considering that most Asians don’t eat donuts and prefer noodles or other Asian foods,” Lee said while making a customer’s latte at the Happy Café, Lee’s donut cafe on Powell Street. But the attraction is clearly there. Cambodian-owned donut stores began proliferating in Southern California back in 1976.

Also, I found a good video from KCET regarding this same topic, interviewing a Cambodian family running a donut shop in LA. (It’s the first video on the linked page).

3 thoughts on “Cambodian Donut Shops”

  1. I think it might be the case of LA city proper, as well. I knew at least one Cambodian classmate in high school whose family owns a donut shop.

  2. I grew up in Long Beach, reportedly home to the largest Cambodian community outside of Cambodia. Most, if not all of the Cambodian kids I knew in high school had parents who ran donut shops. One even taught me how to say “time to make the donuts” in Khmer.

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