Selling out early lets John Chhan spend more time with wife in rehab facility

By Tim Nelson
Updated November 05, 2018
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Doughnuts are delicious, and it usually takes little added incentive for any smart, decent person to order a dozen at a time. But at Donut City in Seal Beach, California customers have found a way to turn buying up as many doughnuts as they can into a way to support a worthwhile cause.

Donut City is owned and operated by John and Stella Chhan, two Cambodian refugees who emigrated to the US in 1979. For three decades, the husband and wife team has been Orange County’s dynamic doughnut duo. But a recent debilitating aneurysm has kept Stella away from Donut City while she undergoes a long and arduous rehab process. As soon as John sells out for the day, he rushes to Stella’s rehab facility to spend as much time with her as he can.

Though John refused his regular customers’ offer to set up a GoFundMe on his and Stella’s behalf, they’ve managed to help out in another way: buying up at least a dozen doughnuts as early as they can so John can sell out for the day and get to Stella sooner. Thanks to both word of mouth and announcements about the plan in local newsletters, John hasn’t had to wait too long to close up shop on most days.

Customers like Todd Gryzwana have been more than happy to pitch in. “It’s a blessing really,” he told CBS Los Angeles. “We need more people like that to just help everybody out in whatever need they have.”

Buoyed by the support of the community, John says Stella is making progress in her recovery. “She can talk, she can write… right now she’s trying to swallow, eat something,” he says, adding that the help from his customers has made him feel “very warm”.

So if you’re in the OC and need to get a doughnut fix, make an early morning pilgrimage to pick up a dozen from Donut City. Not only are you starting your day in the best way possible (i.e. with access to doughnuts), but you’ll be making a good man’s life a little bit easier in these trying times.