A reader wanted to know the location of Dianne Pao and Nimol Sam’s doughnut shop.

The couple expanded their shop into a small Cambodian restaurant last year to avoid becoming the next in a line of doughnut shops across the county to close in recent years, a trend I documented in my story yesterday. While visiting shops during the course of my reporting, I found at least one other doughnut shop, in City Heights, had added a full menu to its offerings to stay afloat.

After finishing my story, I drove over to Pao and Sam’s shop on Midway Drive for lunch yesterday. It’s called D-P Donuts and Cambodian, Thai and Lao Cuisine. Sam told me theirs was the only Cambodian restaurant in the city. I searched and couldn’t find another.

While I ate, he told me he could do away with the doughnuts without much impact on the business. It’s the full menu of food — not the doughnuts — that brings in his small profit these days. He and his wife, who met when he was working at a local Yum Yum Donuts, could avoid rising at 3 o’clock each morning and driving from their Chollas View home to have the donuts in their case by 5:30. They could reduce their 16-hour day by about half and spend more of it with their 6- and 10-year-old sons. But it’s become a way of life for the couple whose families fled violence in Cambodia during the early 1980s.

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“We don’t mind, we like to do it,” Pao said.

“For our customers,” Sam added. “Some customers come in for a doughnut every day, and if we close, they don’t go somewhere else. They wait for tomorrow.”

Lunch was delicious. I was surprised only two people trickled through during the hour I was there. If you happen to stop by, let me recommend the Khmer-style Tum Yum soup, flavored with lemongrass and tamarind. Get it spicy and avoid biting into the chunk of galangal root (that’s for fragrance). Sam will send you away with a doughnut.



    This article relates to: Public Safety

    Written by Voice of San Diego