Customers buy out US doughnut shop every morning so that owner can take care of sick wife

Donut City located in Seal Beach, California.
PHOTO: Google Earth

For the past few weeks, people have been queueing up in front of Donut City from as early as 4.30am, with sweet treats flying off the shelves of the bakery located in Seal Beach, California.

And the reason behind customers buying out the store in record time?

It's just so owner John Chhan can close up shop early and spend more time with his wife Stella, who is ill.

The couple has been serving up freshly baked goods to their community for over three decades. Their shop is popular not only for the doughnuts but also for their warm welcomes.

So when Stella failed to turn up for work one day, concerned customers started to ask Chhan what had happened to her.

She suffered a brain aneurysm on Sept 22 and has been recuperating at a nursing facility. Her husband is only able to visit her in the afternoon after selling all the doughnuts and cleaning up the store.

John and Stella Chhan have owned Donut City in Seal Beach, CA for 3 decades. But when Stella was no longer able to work,...

Posted by CBS Sunday Morning on Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Chhan told abc13 news in an interview that it has been a difficult period for him and he "felt hurt in his heart". "We work together, we stay together," he said of his wife.

And when the couple's community heard of their situation, they sprang to action.

"Days went by and I just couldn't get it out of my head," said customer Dawn Caviola to the Orange County Register. "So I thought, if enough people would buy a dozen doughnuts every morning, he could close early and go be with his wife." 

Caviola decided to reach out to neighbours on the message board Nextdoor and her suggestion received overwhelming responses.

People from the community started to queue in front of the shop early in the morning and bought doughnuts and croissants in the dozens. By 8 am, Chhan had to turn down customers at the shop because the sweet treats were all sold out.

This allowed him to end work before noon and visit his wife earlier, he said. 

Other well-meaning customers reached out to Chhan to help him set up an online fundraising page, but it was an offer that he eventually turned down. 

For now, the man said he just wants to spend as much time as possible with his wife.

"She can talk, she can write and right now she's trying to start eating something..." he told CBS Local in an interview.

Chhan also took the opportunity to thank his kind customers, saying: "I so appreciate it, I just can't say enough thank you."