The beloved donut spot serves up ‘magic and excitement’ at its new location in the former Beach Bakery
by Amanda Ong
In September 2022, Rainier Beach landmark King Donuts moved into Beach Bakery’s former location at 7820 Rainier Ave. S. The beloved family business has been a longtime community favorite, easily memorable for its joint operation as a donut shop, laundromat, and teriyaki counter. Though it has been in existence for decades, the Chhuor family has run King Donuts since 2017. Reopening after a break in 2021, the family dropped teriyaki from the menu, and they haven’t had laundry service since 2019. The recent move also solidifies a new direction for King Donuts.
“There are a lot of things that we’ve kind of learned and considered and experienced in [the last] five years, almost three of which were during a pandemic,” Hong Chhuor, a member of the King Donuts family, said to the South Seattle Emerald. “A donut shop, laundromat, and teriyaki joint in one place [made] the iconic [shop] that everyone knows and loves. However, one of the things we realized pretty quickly was that we are donut people.”
Chhuor operates King Donuts alongside his brother Travis and mother, Kim Sok. They purchased the shop from its previous owners, Heng Hay and Chea Pol, in 2017. Chhuor and members of his family arrived in the U.S. in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s as refugees from the Cambodian Khmer Rouge. They quickly got into the donut business in Los Angeles and Texas. Chhuor had just moved to Seattle in 2017 when King Donuts was put on sale, and quickly jumped at the opportunity to run the well-known, community-loved donut shop. Their new location at the former Beach Bakery spot offers further exciting developments in their future.
“It wasn’t just the physical location [of Beach Bakery],” Chhuor said. “It was our attempt to fill the hole that Beach Bakery’s departure would leave in the community. We knew that [Beach Bakery] meant a great deal to people as well. We were achieving two goals at once here, where we keep that space for a local business. And then the second piece was that we’ve been thinking about the evolution of our business.”
Chhuor said that many people have asked if they would keep making some of the baked goods that were specialties of Beach Bakery. Chhuor’s reply? Not yet, as they are still adjusting to their move. But given Chhuor’s commitment to provide the community with a familiar local spot, it’s not an impossibility.
“The thing I love most about King Donuts is how much it means to the community,” Chhuor said. “It’s not just a place that you can get donuts. It’s been a gathering place and has been a place of pride and joy for our Southeast Seattle community.”
Chhuor moved to Rainier Beach from Capitol Hill in 2017, around the time King Donuts went on sale. After moving, Chhuor realized the neighborhood didn’t have walkable spots, a local breakfast place, coffee shop, or communal place to catch up. King Donuts offered a place for that. Now at the former Beach Bakery location, they have the opportunity to have an espresso machine and expand on their coffee selection. Chhuor is excited to partner with and feature local Seattle company Broadcast Coffee. With that addition, he hopes that in their new location King Donuts can become the place for neighbors and friends to hang out and have donuts and coffee.
“When I think about King Donuts, of course you get delicious food, but it’s not just limited to that,” Chhuor said. “You’re building magic and excitement within. The children who come, the elders who come, can come to this place and see the people behind the counter, and [feel] welcome. It’s a neighborhood spot. And it’s a place for people to gather and have community and to see other people as human beings and not have to go to Ballard or further even. If they live in the Rainier Beach area, they can come to King Donuts and have coffee and donuts.”
To help cover moving costs, the Chhuor family started a GoFundMe campaign.
Visit King Donuts at 7820 Rainier Ave. S., and stay up-to-date on news, new donut flavors, and more at @king_donuts_seattle_washington.
This is one of a series of articles sponsored by the Seattle Office of Economic Development in recognition of Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Amanda Ong (she/her) is a Chinese American writer from California. She is currently a master’s candidate at the University of Washington Museology program and graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with degrees in creative writing and ethnicity and race studies.
📸 Featured Image: A delicious assortment of donuts at King Donuts, a longstanding family-owned spot in Rainier Valley. (Photo courtesy of King Donuts.)
Before you move on to the next story … The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With over 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible. If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn't have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference. We cannot do this work without you. Become a Rainmaker today!