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

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1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:14 am

Scott's Seafood Restaurant at Town and Country Village closed last week. I wonder what is replacing the vacant space?

13 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:47 am

Will L&L start selling malasadas since they're already selling doughnuts?

5 people like this
Posted by Friend
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 16, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Our family will miss Scotts SO MUCH. The food was good and the servers were good and friendly. They will be putting in four retail stores..Just what we all need.
For the past four years we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner there. It was good and certainly less work for Mother...:). Oh, My.

4 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 16, 2015 at 2:19 pm

We miss Hawaiian-style malasadas. Real shame if a Hawaiian donut shop doesn't sell them.

Like this comment
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 16, 2015 at 5:00 pm

KP is a registered user.

Didn't know they were closing, but we sure won't miss Scotts - the food was NOT great. Try Scotts in Jack London Square...Now THAT is good food!
Very interesting donut duel!! LOL!

1 person likes this
Posted by TJ
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 6:00 pm

When the ownership of Happy Donuts changed, the quality of the donuts declined. Guess I'll have to try L & L.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 16, 2015 at 7:24 pm


This article indicates that Scott's Seaford at T&C will be altered to host four retail spaces.

Web Link

My guess is that T&C management will need to be well within the remodeling process before they can seek new tenants. Based on how long the permitting/build-out process takes in Palo Alto, my hunch is that we will not learn about new tenants in the old Scott's Seafood space for about a year.

Like this comment
Posted by Fairmeadow Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 17, 2015 at 5:51 pm

My family really enjoyed that L&L until our last visit when it was clear there was a new owner...the front staff was rude and disorganized at the register, everyone's food order was wrong and the quality was not what I was used to under former owners. I for one won't go there again.

7 people like this
Posted by Pacifist
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 18, 2015 at 11:23 am

By a large margin, Donut War is my favorite kind of war.

Like this comment
Posted by War Analogies
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 18, 2015 at 2:42 pm

"Pacifist" would probably be taking a different tone if any of his or her loved ones becomes a delicious, delicious casualty of this conflict.

1 person likes this
Posted by Happy Feet Redux
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 18, 2015 at 7:51 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2015 at 10:56 am

We tried L&L earlier this week. The food was fine, perhaps an improvement from the previous ownership. Prices are great for the quantity you are getting. The employees seem friendly and better organized than the previous ownership.

Donut selection was kind of disappointing, though. No malasadas and they don't really seem to be set up to serve them anyway (best when fresh and hot). We are not fans of traditional American sugar bombs.

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

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