The bakery Simone’s Donuts on the corner of E Stearns St is a long-time staple in Long Beach and is continuing to flourish. Walking in, customers see a diverse assortment of donuts and croissants. On the wall are old photos and newspaper clippings.
The menu consists of breakfast items like pastries and bagels. Simone’s also sells a variety of beverages such as iced blend coffee, smoothies, milkshakes and Thai iced tea.
The manager Melissa Eap, 30, says the bestsellers are the classic glazed donuts, the cronuts and apple fritters.
“All our regulars come in here, they have their go-to favorites depending on their preference,” says Eap. “I know a guy who comes in and he loves our orange cake donuts and those are, in my opinion, the most underrated of them.”
Simone’s Donuts is open 24 hours, seven days a week. Eap says that the weekends are usually busier than weekdays, but the shop can typically count on a morning and even a late-night rush. Depending on how busy they are, they’ll make donuts multiple times a day. The bakers are usually making donuts throughout the evening.
“We get a good amount of regulars who know around what time their favorite donut is made,” says Eap. “They’ll come in at 1 a.m. every morning because they know, ‘Oh yeah, they’re making the glaze or whatever right now’.”
Simone’s Donuts is a family business owned by Melissa Eap’s father, Kong Eap who bought it in the early 2000s. Kong Eap was a regular customer at Simone’s years before he took it over. He already owned the donut shop, Seaside Donuts Bakery in Newport Beach.
“Before he would go to work in the shop at Newport, he’d get hungry and he didn’t want to wait to get to work to have his coffee and breakfast,” says Melissa Eap. “So before he would get on the freeway to go on the 405, he’d stop by Simone’s first and then he’d come in and he would get a coffee. And his favorite thing here was their almond croissant which he did ask for the recipe from the previous owner.”
Kong Eap believed in Simone’s Donuts and cultivated a connection with the owners since he would come in every day.
“He’d always tell them, ‘If you’re ever ready to sell, let me know first. I really would like your business. It’s a great business’,” says Melissa Eap.
The owners always told him that they weren’t planning on selling the bakery any time soon, but Eap stayed persistent in reminding them of his interest.
“Then out of nowhere, one day he got a phone call from the previous owner and they told him, ‘Hey if you’re still interested, I’m ready to sell’,” says Melissa Eap.
The Eaps are the third owners of Simone’s Donuts. Melissa Eap recalls that the original owner of the bakery worked at Winchell’s Donut House that has since closed. He used his donut expertise to open up his own donut shop across the street and named it after his wife, Simone. Prior to the Eaps, it was also owned by a son and mother.
Kong Eap came to California in the 1980s and worked at a Winchell’s Donut House just like the original owner before his personal business endeavors.
In 2018, Simone’s Donuts introduced their custom donuts option but it wasn’t popular until the pandemic.
“When everything closed down for COVID, I was like, ‘Alright, no one’s gonna order custom anymore, no one’s gonna be having birthday parties,’ but then the opposite happened,” says Melissa Eap. “We got a lot more requests because parents were like, ‘Oh, I want to do something extra special for my kid’…from there it just got a lot more popular.”
Melissa Eap handles all the custom orders, using her fine arts education to decorate the pastries. Simone’s Donuts can create letter shaped donuts to spell out messages as well as different shapes like stars. Customers can also request decorated donuts that Eap freehand draws with icing. She recalls her aunt–who also works at Simone’s–posting a picture of their first custom order on Yelp which kickstarted their custom order requests.
The prices vary. A normal, round donut coated with colored icing is $1.50. If a customer wants a more complicated donut like one with a character drawn on, it can cost up to $4.
Now Simone’s Donuts receives custom order requests every day and makes about 1200 to 1500 donuts per day.
Melissa Eap is grateful that Simone’s Donuts survived the pandemic and appreciates the Long Beach community.
“We provide a place you could go to anytime where you can get food and beverage and dessert for a reasonable price,” she says. “I feel like that’s always a good thing to have in the community.”
To keep up with Simone’s Donuts, follow their Instagram account, @simones.donuts.
By Laila Freeman