The Doughnut Kids Are All Right

The next generation of LA doughnut shop owners are preserving, innovating on, and continuing a uniquely Khmerican experience.

It took two years for Danette Kuoch to convince her parents to begin accepting credit cards at California Donuts, her family’s 40-year-old doughnut shop on Third Street in Koreatown. Next came new toppings and fillings, like Fruity Pebbles and whole Snickers bars, a departure from the shop’s classic sugared rings, glazed twists, and craggy buttermilk bars.

Launching a social media account soon followed, and designing branded boxes and bags not long after. Since joining the family business in 2003, Kuoch, along with her younger sister Stephanie Kudo, have tripled California Donuts’s sales, amassed 365,000 Instagram followers, and made their family’s humble shop stand out in the Southland’s crowded doughnut market.

The shop’s runaway success gave their parents — Cambodian refugees who escaped the Khmer Rouge, mastered the doughnut trade, and raised their families within their shops’ four walls — the peace of mind that they needed to finally retire in 2020 and to leave the business in their daughters’ hands.

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