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Meet Keith & Kim Lum of Baker’s Dozen Donuts in Corona

Today we’d like to introduce you to Keith & Kim Lum.

Keith & Kim, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
After we met and graduated from local universities, we weren’t really passionate about our career paths. For some years, Keith was an engineer and Kim graduated from nursing school; however, she never worked as a registered nurse as she started to pursue pharmacy school after graduation. The opportunity to run this little donut shop in Corona came up and we decided “Let’s go for it!” We did a 360 on our career paths and ventured into the exciting world of donuts! Kim’s family had been in the donut business for decades so we had some experience to work with. That was 17 years ago!

In the beginning, we worked long hours starting from early in the morning until late into the evening and did most of the grunt work. We had two employees at that time. Over the years, we worked on growing the business by implementing new ideas and new products. We creatively started making customized donuts and the word spread out into the community. Before we knew it, we were making fun creations for weddings, birthdays, graduations, all the major holidays, etc.

We were happy to be featured on a couple of episodes of Inland Empire Explorer, hosted by Joel Greene on PBS. Additionally, we won “Best Breakfast” category a few times in the Inland Empire Hotlist contest. We’ve also been recognized in a couple of publications such as Inland Empire Magazine and The Press-Enterprise. In 2019, at the SoCal Donut and Coffee Festival, we were awarded the People’s Choice award which was exciting for us as we were able to share that moment with our kids in tow.

About seven years ago, we decided that we were outgrowing our retail space so we expanded into a vacant neighboring suite next to our existing facility and implemented a deli, offering sandwiches, smoothies, shaved ice, and ice cream. Additionally, we were ready to increase our staffing. Seventeen years later, we went from two team members to nearly 30 team members. The increase in staff is also attributed to the second location which we acquired in August of 2019. Kim’s parents owned a donut shop near downtown Riverside and ran it for twenty-five years. When they retired in 2019 they turned over the management to us. Its concept and operations are much more simplified than Baker’s Dozen Donuts in Corona; however, we hope to implement some of the ideas and products at Corona in Riverside as well.

We have always been so appreciative and grateful for the support the local community has shown us. To reciprocate our appreciation to our community, we continually give back by volunteering, sponsoring, and donating to various organizations and events within our community. It is something we are passionate about and strive to do regularly.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We have enjoyed watching Baker’s Dozen Donuts grow over the past 17 years. However, as with any business, it has not always been smooth sailing but we have gratefully been able to weather the “storms.”

During the housing and following economic crisis around 2008 we experienced a tremendous drop in foot traffic as many of our customers were either losing their homes or losing their jobs. We remember not being able to pay ourselves for months, but we made sure that our staff continued to be paid. They were dependant on us and we were dependant on them. We were a “family”.

In 2015 Main Street and the 91 freeway on and offramps were either closed or majorly disrupted for about a year during the Riverside County Transportation Commission’s 91 expansion project. This was the artery for Corona residents and beyond to get onto and off of the 91 freeway. These were the very customers that we depended on to keep us thriving. Again, our customers were loyal and dedicated. They would find a way to continue patronizing our small business even if it wasn’t always convenient.

Fast forward to the present in 2020 and we are facing yet another financial crisis in the form of a worldwide pandemic. For the past few months, and presently, we watched foot traffic drop tremendously as we were forced to remove our dining areas and limit our ability to serve our customers. Sadly and with broken hearts, we were forced to trim staffing hours. To contribute to the challenging atmosphere, we had to continually keep up with the ever-changing mandated laws imposed on the restaurant industry. However, we know that our community is is still strong in spirit and we continue striving to serve the best treats with smiling service.

Baker’s Dozen Donuts – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
There are numerous donut shops in our community but we feel what sets us apart is our emphasis on customer service and our devotion to supporting our community. We have become, via word of mouth and on various social media platforms, known for our variety and customized donuts…mainly our Big Birthday Donuts. Many customers come to us, sometimes as far as San Diego and Los Angeles, for our customized creations. They often ask us to draw a popular character and/or a specific logo onto a donut for them. We also make other specialty donuts such as letter donuts, big custom shaped donuts, Coronutz (croissant and donut hybrid), maple bacon bars, fritter donuts in various flavors, and we also bake our own bagels and other pastries. Since adding a variety of sandwiches to our menu, they have been gaining popularity as well. Our most popular breakfast sandwich is named “The 91 Disaster” as we are right smack next to this infamous freeway!

We can’t really pinpoint just one thing that brings us pride about Baker’s Dozen Donuts as we are proud of it all. We’re proud that we’re able to supply jobs for our staff which enables them to support their families. We’re proud that we’re able to provide good customer service and good products to our customers to enjoy. And we’re most definitely proud to be located in the Corona and Riverside in the Inland Empire.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Although we have been blessed with a growing business and continually profitable each year, success to us is not just measured with dollar signs. Success is when you have people employed who are happy with their contribution to the team. And they strive to do their best because they enjoy being a part of a team. Success is also seeing your customers walk out with smiles and sharing those smiles with others. Success is also felt when you are able to give back to others and support others in any way you can. Success is also achieved when you stumble upon obstacles but creatively and persistently find solutions to resolve them.

“Success is not achieved by winning all the time. Real success comes when we rise after we fall.” — Muhammad Ali

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