When the founders of Rainier Beach staple King Donuts were robbed and brutally beaten outside their shop last year, the community rallied in support and raised thousands of dollars for medical expenses. But no amount of capital can halt the passage of time, and the beloved business may be coming to an end when owners Chea Pol and Heng Hay retire in December.
The announcement came via the company's mostly dormant Facebook page this month; Channa Hay, Pol and Hay's eldest daughter, confirmed the news for South Seattle Emerald, though she noted the information was meant to be kept quiet until a buyer could be found. "However, the owner of the building King Donuts resides in, at 9232 Rainier Ave S, decided to move ahead with advertising it was for lease," which forced the owners' hand, the Emerald reports.
The Seattle Times notes that when King Donuts first opened it was a doughnut shop only, but, after a move in 2003, added a teriyaki component and a laundromat to help cover the higher rent and make up for the loss of similar area businesses. The shop's customer base was just as varied as the shop itself, one of the greatest charms of the neighborhood meeting place. "Praised by locals for the diversity of its clientele," theTimes says, King Donuts "was named business of the year in 2014 by the Rainier Chamber of Commerce."
Naturally, it's bittersweet when a longstanding institution faces change — the founders have a well-deserved rest ahead of them, but will someone manage to purchase and maintain the character of what they've brought to the community? Yes or no, Seattleites, you've got at least another half-year (plus a retirement party in the works) in which to show your support and appreciation for a truly unique local icon.