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Small Business Highlight: Great American Donut Shop

by Michael Sims 2 years ago in restaurants
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Donuts with a side of heart

While driving on US 31 W Bypass in Bowling Green, Kentucky, one may notice a donut shop. The building has an older look to it, contrasting some of the other modern-day restaurants and fast food places you’d see on the bypass. However, this donut shop is beloved in Bowling Green.

It’s known as Great American Donut Shop, but citizens of Bowling Green better know it by its acronym, GADS. Since 1989, GADS has been a staple of Bowling Green’s numerous local eats, and a favorite amongst the students at Western Kentucky University (WKU). In one WKU Talisman post, one student took the task of ranking every donut in order. Her favorite was the strawberry cake donut, which she compared to the highest grade a person gets on a paper, as well as the best kiss a person has had.

In 2012, Kentucky senator Rand Paul even mentioned GADS at a speech at the RNC. GADS’s word of mouth is so strong, they don’t need much advertising. You won’t find their own website, but you will see an almost perfect Google review score. Their Facebook presence consists of an empty page with a profile photo from 2009, but that’s all they need.

One reason why GADS may not have a website is because they are too busy making donuts. Whether you’re at the store at dinnertime, or 3:00 AM, they’re stocked with fresh donuts, cinnamon rolls, cream horns, and cakes of all sorts of varieties. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and open most days of the year, they’re here for the public, be it a morning worker or a college student pulling an all-nighter.

However, even GADS is suffering from a loss in business due to COVID-19. Like most restaurants, they are still operational. They are open for take-out as well as delivery. Their dining area, which isn’t quite big to begin with, is the most restricted part of this shop.

Their loss in business can be due to various factors. One reason is because Western Kentucky University has suspended physical classes due to COVID-19, making GADS lose its student presence. Another reason why GADS may be having problems is because of its Asian ownership.

Many Asian-Americans are facing discrimination due to the Chinese origins of COVID-19, even though GADS is ran by the Taing family, who are from Cambodia. Yong Taing, a refugee, came to Bowling Green at the age of 10.

She and her husband, Sea, along with the rest of her family, work hard to keep the business as successful as possible, and to many people who have heard their tale, they are the prime example of the American dream.

Despite the slowdown, they have received an outpour of support by the citizens of Bowling Green, with one Facebook post calling to support the business when discrimination against Asian-Americans is at an all time high. With that said, Taing believes the Bowling Green community is highly supportive, and blames the shutdowns and general chaos caused by COVID-19.

After that post, there was an outpouring of support, but this was back in March. While there still has been support, they need all the help they can get in order to survive the shutdowns, which, in Kentucky, could continue past May, with the aftereffects continuing beyond that.

If one finds themselves in Bowling Green, there’s quite a bit to do. A blend of college culture, nature, and rural culture, it’s a fine city to visit. While you’re there, always make sure to pick up some donuts from GADS, no matter what time of the day you’re visiting.


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Michael Sims

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