The great Kerrville doughnut war of 2021 is set to commence

With the addition of Dunkin' and Shipley's, longtime Kerrville doughnut shops are ready to match the chains with customer loyalty and service

Donut Palace owners Ly and Tomghap Kan aren't worried about the competing doughnut shop opening just down the street from their Sidney Baker Highway store.

That's not to say they're not annoyed by the development.

"The only thing that bothers me is that it's so close," said Ly Kan. The Kans have owned their doughnut shop for 26 years — currently the oldest doughnut spot in town.


However, this year Kerrville will welcome chain doughnut stores Dunkin’ and Shipley Do-Nuts. Dunkin is opening just down the street from the Kans, next to Taco Bell along Sidney Baker Highway. On Junction Highway, where the Dunkin’ was originally supposed to go, a new Shipley Donuts will open — not that far away from Snowflake Donuts, a beloved stop for many overlooking Nimitz Lake.

In a wide-open job market, the new Dunkin' will face competition for employees. Its neighbor, Taco Bell, is offering up to $14 to start.

So, the great doughnut wars of 2021 are upon us in Kerrville. Not only will we have six standalone doughnut shops, but H-E-B and Walmart also make doughnuts in their Kerrville bakeries.

It's not going to be hard to find a glazed doughnut. For the Kans, they're confident they will weather the frosted-coated storm of baked goods.

"We have a lot of people who tell us they're going to support us," said Ly Kan, who immigrated to the U.S. when she was 17 from Cambodia. She met her husband at a Houston-area doughnut shop operated by his sister and brother-in-law.

The Cambodian connection to doughnut shops is one of those fascinating stories exemplifying a culture of self-reliance and hard work in the wake of tragedy. Thousands of Cambodians, including the Kans, escaped the ruling Khmer Rouge's genocide to come to the United States. For many Cambodians, they found their way into doughnut shops through a network of refugees. All three of Kerrville's doughnut shops — Donut Palace, Daily Donut and Snowflake — have Cambodian roots.

Ly Kan said the money was good; making doughnuts was reasonably straightforward, but the work is hard. She and her husband take turns arriving at their store at 1 a.m. to make dozens of doughnuts, kolaches, fritters and other items. They have built a successful business that is a community gathering place for many.

Now, they're facing a fight.

The Kans said many people have questioned why Dunkin needed to open so close to their store. However, people have been asking the same questions about Kerrville's preponderance of chicken stores.

Dunkin and Shipley's arrival in Kerrville comes just after another national fast-food chain opened up — Arbys. Dunkin's main competitor is probably not the local doughnut shops but Starbucks.

The new Dunkin' franchise is nearing completion along Sidney Baker Highway.

Over the last three years, Dunkin' dropped doughnuts from its name and emphasized its coffee beverages, which has proved far more lucrative. The company was acquired in 2020 by an investment firm that owns Arby's, Sonic, Baskin-Robbins ice cream and Buffalo Wild Wings.

As it's formally known, Shipley's Do-nuts and Kolaches is a Houston-based company and a mainstay for many Texans. The company has expanded across the state and the south in recent years. The company has 300 stores, and an Austin investment firm purchased the company in June.

The new Shipley Do-Nut and Kolaches franchise is nearing completion on Junction Highway.

While both Dunkin' and Shipley's are franchises, the Kans believe their community-focused business is what sets them apart.

"I serve my community," Ly Kan said.

No matter, the outcome Kerrville will have plenty of doughnut options in the coming months. And if you want to shove a fried chicken breast between two doughnuts, you can now find plenty of places for that decidedly decadent mashup.

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