For an incredibly sweet reason, a little, family-owned bakery on a highway in Seal Beach, California, has been selling out its entire supply of donuts every morning for the last few weeks. The owner, John Chhan, arrives a little after 4 a.m. to open the donut shop while customers arrive shortly after.
Donut City, a no-frills spot known for its freshly baked treats, was started nearly 30 years ago by John and his wife Stella Chhan. They run the cafe seven days a week and though it’s perched beside a 7-Eleven, has a very loyal following of customers who pop in for sweets at modest prices.
However, a regular customer Dawn Caviola noticed that John was staffing the shop without his partner Stella during a recent visit – an anomaly since the pair, who arrived from Cambodia as refugees in the late ’70s, have been selling the fried snack together since buying the store in 1990.
John told her that his wife had suffered a “debilitating [brain] aneurysm” in late September and was recovering at a rehabilitation center. Although her sister would step in to help, he would still wait until all the donuts were sold, then clean the shop, and rush out to visit her.
“I went home and I just couldn’t get it out of my head,” Caviola stated. “They are just such hardworking people.” She then wrote a blog post on Nextdoor, a social networking site that serves as a platform for local community members.
As word spread about Stella’s aneurysm, people offered to start a GoFundMe for the Chhans, but they refused to take a handout. Customer Marc Loopesko had another idea – buy out all of the shop’s donuts.
With the locals’ efforts, John was able to close earlier and earlier which means he’s able to go home and spend time with his wife. Reportedly, Stella was doing much better, could speak again and was re-learning how to eat.
Many netizens on social media are commending those who have rallied behind the Chhans and through several compassionate Facebook shares, it’s clear why the donut shop has such loyal customers.
After receiving such kindness from his community, John said that he is incredibly thankful but also hopes to have Stella well enough to be back in the shop one day soon. “I feel very warm and very happy,” he said. “Thank you to everyone.”