Meet Hong and Kim Chhuor of King Donuts, a beloved Seattle institution that’s been satisfying South Seattle’s sweet tooth for three decades. This family-owned and operated shop has been a staple of the Rainier Valley neighborhood, with its current owners at the helm for the past seven years. 

Hong and Kim’s story is one of serendipity and a passion for the classics – their shop is a testament to the simple joys of a perfectly glazed donut.

In this article, we’ll dive into the heartwarming story of how they came to own King Donuts, what sets their shop apart, and what makes their donuts a must-try for both locals and visitors alike. 

This article has been edited for length and clarity.


Tell us about King Donuts. How long have you been in operation and what’s the story behind the business? 

Hong: So King Donuts has been around for about three decades, and our family has owned and operated King Donuts for the last seven years or so. The longtime location that most people recognize is on the corner of 51st and Rainier,  where you turn the corner and start heading towards Renton, but we moved about seven blocks north of our original location. We’re now at the intersection of Rainier and Kenyon.


What inspired you to take on a donut shop? 

Hong: Well, our family has been in the donut business for most of my life. This is our third shop. The first one was in Los Angeles, and the second shop was in Jefferson, Texas.

The story goes that my mother was living in North Carolina at the time, but she came to visit me here in Seattle because my youngest brother was getting married.

Then my cousin, who’s a French pastry chef, also came to stay with us. The two of them were touring donut shops in the area, and they happened upon the previous King Donuts location. They had met the owner at the time (who was not the original owner), and they got to talking about the business. 

My mother shared her desire to own and operate a donut shop again, because we’d been on a break. Then all of a sudden, she came home and said to me, “I think we’re going to buy a donut shop!”

Kim: My niece from France, she wanted some donuts. I said, okay, let’s go to that place (King Donuts). I had checked that place before. And then we just got in, and the owner was just like, “do you want to buy the donut shop?” And I was just like, “huh?” – I came here to buy donuts to eat, and he want to sell the shop! So he keeps call, call, call, calling, and then we said, “okay!”


What is the most fun part about owning a donut shop?

Hong: I would say the best part of owning a donut shop is how excited people are when they come in here. The kids, they just can’t contain themselves. They’ll run right up to the counter and put their faces right up the glass and against the glass, and they’ll say, I want the pink one, the one with the sprinkles.

Kim: For me, the best part of owning a donut shop is how happy we make people. Our regular customers walk in, grab a donut and coffee and then go about their day. It’s nice and easy. I like that. 

If a first-time customer was coming to King Donuts, what would you tell them about the shop? 

Hong:  The thing that sets King Donuts apart, that we hear from all of our customers time and time again, is that we’re a classic donut shop. We are not the kind of shop where you can come in and find crazy flavors, but we do dip our toe in the water a little bit.

Over the last year or so, we’ve introduced a mango tajin donut – just a little tiny spice if you want that. Pistachio is also a really good seller. People get really excited about the ube donuts.

But we offer the classics that you would find at what some people call your “grandma’s donut shop”. We pride ourselves on that. We don’t try to go too far down the rabbit hole. We’re certainly not looking to Voodoo Donuts for inspiration.

Kim: We have customers who say that they have a hard time finding classic donuts. A lot of donut shops put too much stuff on everything. 

Hong: For some people, getting a donut is part of people’s daily routine – they aren’t looking for something crazy every day. We’re just regular people, and we know that sometimes it’s the very simple pleasures in life. 


What are your best sellers? 

Kim: Our Apple fritters sell out every day. It sells out first.. For some customers, I have to hide one for them and wait for them to come. 

Hong: Wait, we shouldn’t tell people that! 


What time should people arrive to ensure they can get their favorites?  

Kim: 8 o’clock!

Hong: We are open seven days a week except for some holidays from 7 a.m. until 1 p.mYour best shot of getting the donuts of choice are between 7 and 9 a.m. If you come in much later than 9, you’re taking chances at that point. 

Kim: They can do it the other way – just call!

Hong: We’ve also entered the modern world and now you can do online ordering. So if there’s a very specific donut that you want, I would suggest visiting our website and putting in an order.

What are your personal favorite donuts? 

Hong: I would say you can’t go wrong with a glazed donut. It’s hard to hide the quality of a donut if the only thing you have is a donut and a simple glaze. But I’m just going to be a little more risky and say that my favorite donut is a cinnamon sugar ring.

But if you’re maybe a more traditional customer, you might want to try some of our customer favorites are maple bars, old-fashioned glazed donuts, and then apple fritters. If you don’t get here before a certain time, you’re not going to get an apple fritter.

Kim: My favorite is gonna be boring. If I have a customer walk-in and ask me “what’s your favorite”, I say, “you’re not gonna like my favorite” – it’s plain old-fashioned. I eat that every day, once a day. And a sugar donut. Those are my favorite, just that – every morning.


What is it important for people to #SpendLikeItMatters? 

Hong: It’s really important to spend like it matters and we’re so grateful that Intentionalist exists and they’ve been great partners to us over the years. We are a LGBTQ+, POC, immigrant woman-owned small business, and all of that shows up in just who’s here every day, whether it’s behind the counter in terms of the staff and our team who work here, as well as our customers.

One of the things that we love about being a local small business is that we get to connect with people on a human level. We know who our regulars are, we know what their names are, we know what they eat.


What’s something that you’re proud of as part of the business? 

Kim: I’m proud to make people happy. A customer will leave home – they have to go to work, to school, or go do anything. And when they leave home and they want to go to King Donut to get donuts, and I have donuts for them, I’m happy for them. They don’t waste their trip. 

Hong: I would say the thing that sparks the most joy for me is just how far reaching the company and our donuts have been in people’s lives.

Even though we did not start King Donuts, we are just really grateful and proud to be part of a long term tradition in the Southeast Seattle and Rainier Beach neighborhood. People who used to live here and moved away will come and tell us stories about, wow, I used to go to King Donuts when I was a kid. When I hear stories about that,  it makes me really happy to be carrying on a tradition that means something to people.

Kim:  I have a few little customers who like to come see Miss Kim. 

Hong: Yes, with our new location, we’re getting a large wave of new clients in the range of four to eight years old. And we see them regularly. So it’s kind of watching them grow up too along the way. 


What are some other local businesses you’d like to give a shout out to?  

There are some really true neighborhood gems in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, and I want to just shout out Umami Kushi, Creamy Cone, Jude’s Old Town, and the Redwing Cafe.

They’re lovely people and special places. 


Is there anything else that you would like people to know about King Donuts? 

Hong: I would say we love making new friends. So if you’ve never been before, please come see us.

Kim: We welcome everybody.

Hong: Yeah, everyone is welcome here. Come see what all the hype is about.

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