Kevin Bell

Making Millions With Donut Shops. Then Losing Everything.

Twitter Post


The “mom and pop donut shop” is so much more than a pink box full of warm and fresh donuts.

In Southern California, you’d be hard pressed to find a small mom and pop shop that’s not Cambodian owned and operated.

It’s a crazy story, but it started with one man in the 70s, Ted Ngoy aka, “The Donut King”.

This is entrepreneurship, success, failure and legacy at its FINEST.

Piecing together info from his book, the documentary and other articles I’ve read, here’s the 10,000 ft view👇

Ted Ngoy came to California in 1975 fleeing from the Cambodian civil war.

He was working a few different jobs to make ends meet. One of those jobs was at a gas station. ⛽️

Across the street from the gas station was a donut shop that always had a line of customers out the door.

Ted was an entrepreneur and smelled opportunity… and the donuts. 🍩

He was accepted into the Winchells training academy where he was taught all the operations of running a successful donut shop.

He ran a couple Winchells shops, but then took what he learned and sought opportunity.

While still running those shops he opened up his own using a loan from a friend.

“Christy’s Donuts”, named after Ted’s wife, opened in La Habra, CA in 1975.

But Ted didn’t stop there.

He became a sponsor for other Cambodian families coming to America and was able to immediately provide them with a career in the donut biz.

One by one Ted opened new shops, reaching up to 85 shops in the Southern California area, pushing both Winchells and Dunkin’ out for decades.

Let me put this in perspective for you how successful Ted was at the time…

He was making about 100,000/mointhelate70s.TheequivalenttothatNOWisabout700,000 / mo.

Ted had it all, but he also lost it all.

Ted had a gambling addiction and started leveraging his stores to pay his debt.

He’d borrow from the stores and tell the managers that if he didn’t repay them, he’d just give them the store.

One by one he signed over the stores after getting deep into debt.

I wish I could say that he built it all back up again, but he didn’t.

His impact however still remains.

There’s approximately 1000 donut shops in Southern California and as of 2020 95% of them are Cambodian owned and operated.

Ted is also the first operator to use a pink box for donuts.

Entrepreneurship is a wild ride. There are so many ups and downs that we’ll all experience.

A few ways I’ve found to be as successful as possible:

  1. Fail often. Have an idea? Try it! See what happens and learn

  2. Ask other people how they were successful

  3. Ask other people about the times they’ve failed and why.

There’s a bunch of other things, but these are most relevant to this article.

Hope you enjoyed this!

If you liked this, I talk about entrepreneurship often with how to start, buy and scale.

Also sprinkled in there I write about real life stuff like being a dad and working full time at a w2.

Always open for DMs! Let’s connect!