Lucky's Donut House to close after over 33 years in Central Fresno

The owner of the property says he's losing money and must make a change

Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Lucky's Donut House to close after over 33 years in Central Fresno
In early March, the luck changed for long-time family business, Lucky's Donut House, in central Fresno.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In early March, the luck changed for long-time family business, Lucky's Donut House, in central Fresno.

"Having these folks greet me, know me and welcome us into their establishment is like getting a hug when you walk through that front door," customer of 20 years, Mary Beth Shields, said.

The shop has been a staple for many for the last 33 years.

"I've been coming here since I was not even tall enough to look over the last row of donuts," customer Jack Cox said.

Come Memorial Day, the donut shop will be forced to close.

"It came to us as a complete shock," manager and owner Judy Taing said.

Taing says the property owner gave the shop a 60-day eviction notice in March.

"We weren't sure what the notice was in regards to," Taing explained. "We later found out that we spoke to the property owner, and they want to build a gas station and demo our building down so they can move forward with their project."

She says the donut shop was never notified about an appeals process to try to stop the project.

"How was this approved? As a small business owner, we weren't even notified that this project was going on, that even a permit was submitted and proposed to the city of Fresno," Taing said.

Loyal customers are saddened by the news of the closure.

"I'm just sad to think that they're going to go away," Shields said.

"I'm very surprised, a little devastated," customer Stephanie Inskeep said. "I come here every Sunday and purchase donuts for my church."

"I offered them to start selling out of our living room. I love this place so much," Cox explained.

"It's just not a customer anymore. We're all family now that we've built here, and that's what we're going to miss the most," Taing said about her customers.

Lucky's is searching for a new location but says it could take one or two years to relocate.

"We want to be within the community same area," Taing explained. "Hopefully within a half-mile to a mile radius at most so we can still serve the same community."

"They have my loyalty for wherever they set up," Shields said.

"Lucky's is the way to go," Cox added.

Gurjit Singh owns the Lucky's donut shop building and the adjacent business, Quick-Shop Liquor.

Singh says he bought the land during the pandemic and he's not making any money.

"According to that building, my payment is $2,900, around $3,000, and they are paying only $1,900 rent. So, I am pulling $1000 from my pocket every month, I am losing the money," said property owner, Gurjit Singh.

Once Lucky's previous rental agreement expired a few years ago, Singh never renewed their lease.

"This was all verbal, all verbal, no documentation whatsoever in regard to, your lease is expiring, you're now month to month tenants, no documents whatsoever, it was all word by mouth," said Taing.

Action News asked Singh if he ever gave the shop any prior notice.

Lucky's donut house has been a staple for many in Central Fresno for the last 33 years. Come Memorial Day, the donut shop will be forced to close.

"No, I just went myself over there to his shop, no notice, I just told them I want to move forward because my payment is so high," said Singh.

The other option was a nearly 60% rental increase per month.

"But I give them the six-month option already, if you want to stay until December 31st this year, than you have to pay at least $3,500," said Singh.

Taing's parents have owned the shop for 33 years, since she was a toddler.

They came to America from Thai refugee camps. She says the upcoming closure has affected their entire family. But at the end of the day, while English may not be their first language, they are avid business owners, who want to keep their shop afloat.

"They understand that rent is supposed to increase, they understand that, but come 2 to 3 hundred percent increase, it's just not understandable for them, and that's where they made the decision, this is just not right, they might be taken advantage of, we don't know," said Taing.

Now, Singh has an approved conditional use permit for his new business.

"I asked a lot of customers, 'What do you guys want over here?' They said, 'Okay, if you guys put a gas station.' It's a good corner, then one stop everything, gas, food, everything you want," Singh explained.

Action News asked Singh, "did you tell them that you were planning this gas station?"

"I already ask them, gas station, or my own business in there, or another tenant? Its three ways I have to go, or if you want to stay here, you have to pay more rent," answered Singh.

The plan is to demolish the existing donut shop, and build three fuel pumps.

Something he says will make him more profitable, as his liquor store is not enough.

"According to this store, if I open my own business there, or something, than we can make more money, my family can work there, hire somebody, two three people," said Singh.

A challenge of two family businesses -- both trying to make a living.

"By all means we understand, go ahead and build your gas station, but business to business, give us more time, it does take time to move and to relocate," said Taing.

Lucky's doors officially close on May 27.

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