Shop Talk: Doughnuts shops duel, happy feet get happier

This week's business news

Daryl Savage

DUELING DOUGHNUTS ... In the quiet confines of Palo Alto's Barron Park neighborhood, a bit of a doughnut drama is taking place.

It all began last summer when it was rumored that Happy Donuts, 3916 El Camino Real, was closing. Hundreds of doughnut devotees jammed in for what they thought would be the outlet's last day of business. But the rumor did not pan out. Happy Donuts in Palo Alto merely changed ownership. Meanwhile, the former owner, Soknea Hort, searched for a new place to sell doughnuts and finally found it just four doors away. In January 2015, Hort became the owner of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, 3890 El Camino Real. L&L is a national franchise that serves Hawaiian-style cuisine and has more than 175 locations. But now that Hort owns the Palo Alto store, she has added doughnuts -- lots of them -- to the menu. "We're the only L&L in the country that sells doughnuts," said Hort, who lives in Palo Alto and has three young sons. She readily admitted she's competing with her neighbor, Happy Donuts. "We're open 24/7," she said. "Our doughnuts are fresh every morning, just like Happy, but we sell ours for less: Our doughnuts are 87 cents. A Happy Donut is a dollar."

ANTIQUE SHOP BECOMES HISTORY ... It's the end of an era for antique stores in Palo Alto. "We're the last to go," said Ken Alsman, one of three owners of Addison Antique, 100 Addison Ave. at Alma Street. The store will close June 15. "It was a combination of factors," said Alsman, who co-owns the store with Deborah Kohler and Mike Kelly. "The rent increased, I'm moving east, and it's the times. People would rather shop at Pottery Barn these days." But Alsman looks back at his business with pride. "We did this for 10 years. A decade is a good amount of time," he said, adding, "We're also one of the few locally owned businesses left in town." There are thousands of items in the 4,000-square-foot store, and most will be showing discounted prices as the store nears its final days. Alsman is unsure what will become of the hard-to-miss, rusty-red building once the antique shop closes.

HAPPY FEET GET HAPPIER ... One of the original foot massage spas in Palo Alto has recently expanded into a second location, just five doors down from its original site. Happy Feet Foot Spa, 3731 El Camino Real, which opened seven years ago, is using its new space at 3783 El Camino Real, on the corner of Curtner Avenue, for the overflow of customers during peak periods, said one of the shop's foot masseurs who did not want his name mentioned. Happy Feet increased its price by $5 last summer after its rent was raised by 40 percent, according to a sign in the reception area. That pushed the cost for a one-hour massage to $30. Despite the increase, there is no shortage of customers who want their feet rubbed. "Business is very, very good here. Lots of people," the foot masseur said.

Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business moving out or in, down the block or across town? Daryl Savage will check it out. Email shoptalk@paweekly.com.

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2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2015 at 12:52 pm

We've always avoided the Palo Alto L&L because the portions seemed to be much smaller than the Mountain View L&L. Maybe will try the new owner. Do they sell malasadas (Portugese-style donuts that are way more popular in Hawaii)?

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Been to L& L twice at the new location, and the portions were very generous. Great donuts too!

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 16, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Do they have chewy malasadas or just American-style sugar bombs?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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