On June 13th, DoorDash released their first annual compilation of the 100 Most Loved Restaurants in the United States in 2022. Showing that you don’t have to go to the city for good eats, the unranked list recognized Ukiah’s very own local donut shop Happy Donuts & Bagels as one of the most loved restaurants in the USA.
Since opening its doors in August 2013, the family-owned business is one of the few places in town where customers can order Boba Tea drinks, but they also make and serve smoothies, fresh donuts, bagels, sandwiches, and massive croissants.
The hole in the wall is designed as a grab-n-go dining experience, which owner Cathay Keing says is the reason her donut business did well during peak pandemic times, estimating she only lost 10% in profits. Her secret? Produce high-quality products consistently and keep prices reasonable, even during inflation periods such as now, with boba ingredients costing more and more. “I try not to put a high price even though the supplies for boba is the price is going up, we want to keep people coming,” Keing says.
Happy Donuts is the epitome of the American Dream. Keing emigrated from Cambodia over ten years ago and sponsored her husband to follow. Her father learned how to run a bakery in the Bay Area before opening a Happy Donuts location in Windsor in 2012. Keing’s parents run the Windsor location, while Keing and her husband run the Ukiah location. Similarly, Keing’s brother and his wife run the Happy Donuts location that opened in Willits in 2018, and family friends are manning the Cloverdale location. The Keing family found success and community on the North Coast by working hard and making goodies loved by all.
While on the phone with her at 9:00 at night, she said her husband was still at the shop, cleaning and preparing to open tomorrow. Keing said they work hard and don’t stress. Even with DoorDash taking a 20% commission, she asserts that her business is doing well.
Despite the rise in reports of hate crimes against Asian-owned businesses in the Bay Area over the last couple of years, Keing has never had such incidents. The Happy Donuts customer base is loyal, she tells us.
Throughout the pandemic, community support for local businesses skyrocketed. Katrina Kessen, executive director of Greater Ukiah Business and Tourism Alliance, and the community joined in the efforts to “shop local” and local businesses began engaging and networking with each other.
Kessen said that businesses such as Happy Donuts & Bagels are a part of the fabric that makes Ukiah a unique place. “One of the natures of small business owners: you have to be willing to be flexible and think outside the box”
Kessen suggested that Happy Donuts & Bagels earning their spot as one of America’s Most Love Restaurants could be a result of their uniqueness “It is really different for our community and people love that.”