King Donuts for Sale After Nearly 30 Years in South Seattle

King Donuts for Sale After Nearly 30 Years in South Seattle

By Amber Campbell

Sad news coming out of Rainier Beach today as King Donuts Teriyaki Laundromat has announced that — unless it can find a buyer — the family-owned  business will be shutting its doors after nearly 30 years in South Seattle.

“King Donuts is the hub and the welcoming face of Rainier Beach,” said Rachelle Rose, a devoted King Donuts customer, South Seattle Slice founder, Rainier Beach resident and the neighborhood’s Facebook page moderator. “When we moved to Rainier Beach over 11 years ago, it was the first thing we treated ourselves to. It was like finding a pearl in an oyster. Not only was King Donuts close by and within walking distance, but as it turns out, they are the best doughnuts in the city. Light, fluffy, unpretentious, fresh-baked pillows of love. They are a Saturday morning tradition for our children.”

Heng Hay and Chea Pol met in Cambodia. During the war, they were forced to walk 15 hours to the refugee camp in Thailand. This picture was taken right before they came to Seattle in 1980.

Voted Best Thing in South Seattle in 2013 and Business of the Year in 2014, King Donuts has become an iconic South Seattle institution since Heng Hey and Chea Pol started the business in 1987 after fleeing war-torn Cambodia.

“The Hay family has put so much love and pride into this business,” added Rachelle. “Everyone who walks through their door is welcomed as a friend or family. Since our first day in the neighborhood, King Donuts has fed us doughnuts and teriyaki, and has been there for us on the unpredictable days when our washing machine was broken.”

The Hay’s daughter Davie, who grew up in the shop, calls it her family’s “American Dream story” and the Rainier Beach neighborhood “like our second home.”

We appreciate all the love and support that has been given to us by this community,” she added.

She said the decision to close the shop after almost three decades was a tough one and that — despite all the gossip and wild speculation about the landlord forcing them out by raising the rent — there’s more to the story.

“There are many factors that are included in the decision to close but number one is retiring for my parents,” she said. “Thirty years is a long time.”

Indeed, especially after the two elderly owners were attacked and assaulted one evening early last year as they closed up for the night and headed home. They both ended up in the hospital.

The neighborhood responded with both outrage at the brutality of the crime and overwhelming compassion for Heng and Chea who are well-known in the community.

“Shameful,” said one GO: South Seattle (then RVP) reader. “They are the nicest family,” said another.

kingdonut5“This business has been a part of our community for decades,” said yet another. “I’ve been going there since I was a little girl with my grandpa. When he died, the owners kept his table reserved for months!”

A GoFundMe account generated more than $23,000. Davie said she was totally shocked by the donations and concern for her parents.

“I guess we never knew that so many people cared so much,” she said. “And I never thought that we would get so much help with the donations. Most of the time things happen to people and there isn’t this much love and support.”

The suspect was eventually arrested.

Of course, the big question on everyone’s mind is, “Will King Donuts relocate?” According to Davie, that’s not likely. Although they are looking for a potential buyer for the business.

“My parents are ready to enjoy their life beyond the shop,” she said.

Rachelle and many other loyal customers agree that the Hay’s have earned their well-deserved retirement.

“As sad as I am to see King Donuts go, I am cheering on Ma and Pa in their incredible journey and their amazing lives,” she said. “They escaped a horrible situation in Cambodia, and then came here to make a beautiful family and a beloved local business, and now they deserve to enjoy a peaceful retirement with the knowledge that they have brought friendly camaraderie through doughnuts to the people of our wonderful community. I’ll always remember that IT’S A REAL PLACE.”

On that note, stay tuned for details on a community celebration to honor the Hay family’s commitment to Rainier Beach and South Seattle.

Photos/Hay family

 

2 Comments

  1. King Donut was the BOMB. When I move to Federal Way and Kent my husband always ask where should we go for Donuts and said you already know my favorite, he left came back with two dozen. I said thanks Babe you already know me, I would never eat any other donut then Kings Donut. I used to come early in the morning alwayd had a conversation with the owners wife great lady. They do deserve to retire. May God bless you all for your cooking. Hopefully somebody else will bake more Donuts like they used to.

  2. WOW! What a bummer. I wish them all the best. They truly are an example of “The American dream”
    If a large increase in the rent IS part of the reason, that really sucks.