The owners of Jim Georgie’s Donuts, a married couple, are retiring and selling their restaurant after 26 years in business.
“They’re getting old, so they don’t have the energy to make as much food as they used to,” said Terri Im, their daughter.
Im said that her mother, Prethy Nu, a Cambodian immigrant, started working at the restaurant at 2799 16th St. in the 1980s and got her husband, Chreang Im, hired not long after.
“My dad would make the donuts and my mom would be the cashier,” said Im.
Like many other donut shops, the place also sold Chinese Food, as well as some American offerings.
In 1995, at Nu’s suggestion, the couple bought the restaurant and operated it, along with one cook and help from their two children.
Im, now 33, began helping out as a cashier at 9 years old. Her brother also pitched in early on.
“I felt like I needed to help my parents out,” Im said.
And the skills paid off later on. She recalled working in the pharmacy department of CVS and being praised by her bosses for being so quick on the register and at dealing with customers.
When Im was junior class president at John O’Connell High School, her parents also donated chicken kebabs and donuts to be sold at fundraisers, even continuing the practice after Im graduated in 2005.
The owners are both in their 60s now and have been considering selling the business for a few years, but unexpected delays prolonged their retirement twice.
First, in December 2018, a driver accidentally crashed their car into the restaurant, causing extensive damage and leading to a year of renovations. The couple discovered the damage as they arrived to open up at dawn. The only benefit of the crash is that now, the store is being sold with a new floor, restroom and wheelchair-accessible entrance.
The business reopened in December, 2019, and the owners were already preparing to sell when the Covid-19 pandemic began. They expected property values would drop during the crisis, opting to stay in business until it passed.
They stopped selling Chinese food during the pandemic to lighten the workload. But, unlike most other small businesses during the past year, Jim Georgie’s Donuts has not struggled to bring in customers, thanks to two large affordable housing structures being built within a block of their shop, and the large, hungry construction crews that work there. One building, at 1990 Folsom St., is just across the intersection from the shop, while the other, at 2060 Folsom St. is just down the block.
But the family now feels it’s the right time to sell.
“We decided maybe now is a better time, now that the vaccine is being distributed,” Im said.
While the two business owners have many fond memories within their shop, they’re also now relieved to rest, which they never had much time for before.
“We’re getting old, we need to travel, to enjoy life; money’s not important,” Nu said.
The couple have no intention of traveling while the pandemic rages, but they hope to eventually take trips to places familiar and new. Nu said she and her husband have not been back to their native Cambodia for six years.
The restaurant will remain open for takeout until the business sells, Nu said, so regular customers over the last decades have time to say their farewells.
Few other old-school donut shops remain open in the Mission — China Express and Donut at 2798 Mission St. and Grand Mission Donuts and Bakery at 2195 Mission St. remain. Jelly Donuts, at 3198 24th St., closed for renovations in August, 2019, and does not appear to have reopened yet.
Read more about businesses that have closed in the Mission here.