Owner of Do Good Donuts, Tyler Lee. Photos by Asia Morris.
Almost two weeks ago, and after years of dreaming up her 4th Street mini donutery, proprietress Tyler Lee opened the door of Do Good Donuts to a line down the block. She held back a few tears at the sight.
“I guess I just couldn’t let myself believe that that’s what I should be anticipating,” Lee said about the store’s soft opening. “No one will ever know, unless they’ve opened a small food business, how much work goes into it. And that’s fine, that’s not my customers’ job to know that, but I went to open the door and I got kind of choked up. I had to compose myself because I just couldn’t believe that this day was finally here.”
Lee’s take on offering seasonal items, including the Lemon Curd with Citrus Sugar mini donut, is inspired by her native Central California. Raised between Bakersfield and Fresno, Lee experienced a rich upbringing surrounded by an agricultural lifestyle, but felt that she needed to expand her horizons.
“I always knew I wouldn’t settle down there,” Lee said. “It’s just too small for me, too conservative for me. So I moved here right after high school and went to Cal State Long Beach and absolutely fell in love with Long Beach.”
Lee began to consider opening a small business of her own during her time as a manager at Frosted Cupcakery. She helped the local Belmont Shore bakery expand to neighboring cities and although she wasn’t sure what her own small business would provide, found that the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship were for her.
After five years with Frosted Cupcakery it was time to move on. Lee was able to use her degree in psychology—she graduated from CSULB in 2009—to find a job doing intake and admissions for eating disorder treatment facilities for almost three years. Commuting back and forth between Santa Monica and Long Beach, however, eventually took its toll. The Belmont Heights resident began to ponder ways she could make a living closer to home and to her family.
The All the Good Things (ATGT) donut: traditional vanilla & nutmeg cake donut, coated in cinnamon sugar, drizzled with local S&P Honey, & Nutella then sprinkled with Himalayan sea salt.
The turn of events that resulted in Do Good Donuts’ existence is fairly serendipitous. Lee and her husband had made-to-order mini donuts at their wedding by a company who catered out of a vintage trailer. Then, on their “baby moon” to Portland and a visit to Pip’s Original Donuts & Chai, a mini donutery, the couple sat there thinking, “Why is this not in Long Beach?”
Sitting at home with her daughter one evening, Lee said she realized it was a “now or never moment.”
“The stars just kind of aligned with this spot,” Lee said, on finding that 2707 East 4th Street had opened up. “I mean that’s truly how I look at it. It was just the right place, right time, right idea, Long Beach didn’t have anything like this, and it would do so well in Long Beach, I thought.”
Now a part of the “Long Beach small business club,” Lee is looking forward to collaborating with local nonprofits, as well as other small businesses, including Long Beach Creamery. In a year’s time, she hopes Do Good Donuts will be a reflection of her customers’ needs and a space for the community to gather that simply feels good to be in.
Inadvertently, Lee’s background in mental health and desire to spread positivity shines through this mini donut venture, especially with the Do Good Donuts tagline “Good People. Good Times. Good Donuts.”
Do Good Donuts is located at 2707 East 4th Street.
Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her on Twitter and Instagram @theasiamorris and via email at [email protected]
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