On Sunday morning at Village Donuts in Lodi, people lined up at the counter to make their selections from the dozens of glaze, fritter, sprinkled and nut-topped pastries. Among the donut aficionados, John, Lyndsi and Jessica Higgins placed an order for three dozen donuts to take with them to a Century Assembly Church junior high and high school youth group Thanksgiving-type celebration.
In one sentence, Jessica Higgins summed up the case for donuts -- the case that keeps the little doughy sugar-bombs in business year in, year out, despite their existence in a diet-crazed, South Beach-striving, low-carb-crazed America.
"I know they're not really healthy for me, but I love eating donuts," she said.
Jessica's father John Higgins nodded in agreement.
He shrugged his shoulders and smirked a little when asked if he was concerned about the carbs in the mornings cache of donuts.
"I try to balance," he said. "But a treat once in a while doesn't hurt."
While just one regular-sized donut contains 26.6 carbs, 242 calories and 13.7 grams of fat, the average donut consumer didn't seem to give a hoot. Even if they were buying two or three to munch on.
"Hey, I live by that old adage, 'You only live once!'" laughed Tamara Garcia at Star Donuts on Kettleman Lane.
"If I really want to have a donut, by God I get a donut," she said. "I don't care if I'm training for climbing Mount Everest, you know what I mean? I just get weak."
Jim Yonn prepares a fresh batch of donuts early Sunday morning at Star Donuts on Kettleman Lane in Lodi. Yonn starts a batch of donuts at 4 a.m. every day and a second batch around 6 or 7 a.m. (J. Paul Bruton/News-Sentinel)
The athletically trim 42-year-old mother of three said that to her, there's still nothing that beats the treat of having an occasional fresh donut.
While Garcia was just passing through Lodi on her way to Lake Tahoe, fate had led her to the right place. Standing behind the counter of Star Donuts, Dora Yonn stood smiling and pleasantly greeting customers.
She had just finished dipping fresh cooked crullers into maple and chocolate toppings, then placed the still warm gems into the display case.
Another customer, a regular to Star Donuts, said that he liked the donuts and the people.
"It's convenient for me -- just right down the street. They make great donuts, have a big selection, and they're nice people," said Brian Olden, adding, "the donuts seem to always be warm and fresh when I get them."
What Olden, Garcia and others probably don't realize is that there is a reason the donuts seem fresh: They are fresh.
In fact, just around the corner, unseen to the steady stream of people buying donuts, Jim Yonn was still busy making donuts for late morning customers.
Yonn is one of the few donut-makers who actually makes two batches of donuts every day.
Jim Yonn's brother, Savath, arrives at the shop at 2 a.m. daily, while Jim Yonn arrives to continue on the "later" shift at 4 a.m. This ensures customers that fresh, warm donuts are in the display case as soon as the doors open, and later in the morning, too, when there is a second morning rush, said Jim Yonn.
"One of the differences for Star Donuts is that we use high-quality dough. And instead of making one large batch, we make two a day to keep the donuts fresh," Jim Yonn said.
For the Yonn family, that averages out to using approximately 115 pounds of flour every day.
"Hmmm … I don't even know how many donuts we get out of that," Jim Yonn contemplated for a moment. "A lot!" was the final answer.
"We sell out most days by 10 a.m. Sometimes a little later," he said with a smile. "But most of the people who come here, they keep coming back."
From left, John, Jessica and Lyndsi Higgins make their selections at Village Donuts on Ham Lane. The three were placing an order of three-dozen donuts for the high school and junior high school youth groups at Century Assembly Church on Sunday morning in Lodi. (J. Paul Bruton/News-Sentinel)
Across town, Brian Nguav relates to the concept of having two shifts to take care of business. Only for Nguav, the two shifts are both handled solo -- and definitely feature a unique twist.
The Lodi Spot, Nguav's combination restaurant provides fresh donuts by day, and in the afternoon makes available fresh-cooked Chinese food in a delistyle setting. The idea is to provide donut customers good donuts, Nguav said, and when donut sales slow in the afternoon and evening, he offers quality Chinese food at affordable prices.
"Chinese … fast food," he said with a laugh.
Nguav's day also starts with the early making and cooking of donuts. In fact, he has to cook enough donuts for two stores, since he also has a family run donuts and Chinese food restaurant on Lincoln Way in Galt.
Later, in the afternoon, Nguav switches chef hats and starts cooking all over again, whipping up such favorites as spicy beef, egg rolls, teriyaki chicken and the like.
"I start my day about 4 a.m. and end at about 7 p.m. each night, seven days a week. Makes for long days," he said with a smile.
In spite of attempting what some might think is an unusual pairing, Nguav said that the concept is working.
"We're getting better sales each year as more and more people find out about us. We even have some regular customers that come in here every single day. It's amazing," he said.
So Lodi donut fans rejoice: You can now have donuts for breakfast -- or dessert -- or maybe even both … The choice is yours.
"If you try it, I'm sure you will like it," Nguav said.
Contact reporter J. Paul Bruton at firstname.lastname@example.org.