Neighbor stories

SoCal community comes together to help beloved donut shop owners

Written by Nick Brinkerhoff

In the Seal Beach community located in Southern California, a donut shop off the Pacific Coast Highway named Donut City has been around for about three decades, bringing joy to neighbors and tourists alike with its delicious sweets and affordable prices.

The shop is run by couple John and Stella Chhan who work side by side and cheerfully greet patrons seven days a week. Both John and Stella are reliably present everyday, so when longtime customer Dawn Caviola noticed that Stella had not been for a week, Dawn became concerned and asked John where she was.

John explained that Stella had suffered a debilitating aneurysm and was recovering.  When all the donuts had been sold out for the day, usually in the afternoon, John would close up the shop and visit her.

Dawn knew how important it was for John to be by Stella’s side through her recovery, so she came up with a way for John to be able to close shop early. She posted to Nextdoor to rally her neighbors in support of her idea – if everyone visited the shop early in the day, John would be able to leave to be with Stella. The response to Dawn’s post was astounding – her neighbors loved the idea.

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John Chhan works the counter at Donut City in Seal Beach, CA (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Neighbors have been flocking to the shop in droves. According to The Washington Post, people start lining up at 6 a.m. to buy goodies. Customers have been buying donuts in the dozens, which has allowed the shop to close within two hours of opening! Customers have been buying out the donut shop for weeks now and is continuing to do so to make sure John has as much time as possible to care for his wife.

We donut know what we would do without neighbors, and we sure love how Dawn and her community stepped up to help make this situation a bit sweeter for John and Stella!

Story originally covered by The Orange County Register and The Washington Post. Header photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG

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