Sweet Dozen is on the Rise

Sweet Dozen is on the Rise

November 30th, 2017  |  Published in Business

Sweet Dozen is located in Sacramento, California. The principal owners of Sweet Dozen are the Khamphay family: father Outhay, mother Sengkeo, brother Jeremy and sister Nuny, along with her husband Jeff Cabanting. Sweet Dozen also operates the Traveling Sweet Dozen mobile cart. Sweet Dozen Cones, located in nearby Folsom, is owned by Jeremy Khamphay and his wife April Le. Both shops are operated and managed by siblings Jeremy and Nuny.

By Nuny Khamphay Cabanting

Our family has been in the bakery business for what seems like a lifetime. No matter how much we thought the donut era would see its end, we come back around thinking about what we enjoy doing, which leads us back to our donut passion. In August 2008, we opened our Sweet Dozen donut bakery in Sacramento, California. In August 2015 we acquired our Traveling Sweet Dozen (mobile cart). This year in September we launched our Sweet Dozen Cones in Folsom, California, about ½ hour east of our first shop. Being that the Sacramento area is known to be a culturally diverse city, our customer demographic covers the entire spectrum from the younger hipster kids desiring to the capture that perfect photographic moment to the elders who routinely meet up for their early morning cup of Joe. We tend to attract a younger crowd at our Midtown farmers market, mostly as a result of being in the downtown area.

With every food or restaurant business out there, you always want to stay relevant to the customer’s needs, therefore we aim to create a quality product that will satisfy sweet cravings all while thinking how they will come back for more. When we are able to, we source our ingredients and supplies locally (i.e. fruits, nuts, coffee). After all, why not take advantage of the agriculturally rich area we live in? It’s also very important for us to support local businesses within the area if not the state — such as Vaneli’s, Brass Clover, Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters, BakeMark, Robb Ross. We strive to establish and maintain relationships with other business-minded people who love Sacramento and takes pride of the evolving and growing city it is becoming. Our products are currently not sold at other markets or cafes, but we are open to the opportunity to collaborate with other local businesses in the future.

My parents were born and raised in Laos. My father is from Paksan, Bolikhamxay and my mother is from Xieng Khouang. Our family came to the U.S. as refugees in 1980. I was born in the Nongkai, Thailand refugee camp just four months prior to immigrating to the U.S. My brother was born in Indiana a year later. My family lived in a town called South Holland, Illinois until 1989, then we moved to San Jose, California. In 1996, we made Sacramento our home. Sweet Dozen has become what it is today because of my parents, who laid a solid foundation for the business. Donuts and bread making were skills they acquired when they first came to America. It was always in them to own a family business, so from 1984-1989 my parents started O & S Oriental Food and Gifts, located in Harvey, Illinois. They sold food products, various souvenirs and gifts from Southeast Asia. We then moved across country to San Jose, California, where my father worked at a technology company.  While he was content and comfortable, in my father’s heart, he still wanted to be his own boss. From 1990-1995, my parents acquired two donut shops known as Donut Express and Donut Queen in San Jose. Once we moved to Sacramento, my parents invested in reaching out to the Southeast Asian community.

My father and brother both have their Associates of Arts degree. I have my Masters degree in Public Health. However, most of our business skills and know-how has been acquired through direct experiences on the job. Prior to Sweet Dozen, my father and mother worked in the social work field as a job counselor and translator for Southeast Asian Community Center for Sacramento County, from 1997-2007. My father also worked as an ER technician at the Kaiser Permanente Hospital. My brother managed a cafe and auto shop. Both my husband and I currently work for the State of California. I work full time as an Epidemiologist for the Office of Refugee Health, California Department of Public Health. I help with the family business when and where I am able. For a couple years, when we first opened Sweet Dozen, we offered cupcakes and I did a majority of the baking, as well as the event planning and design. As you can see, we love multitasking. We love to do a little bit of everything, even if it involves working three jobs at a time!

More than a decade later, in 2008, my parent’s wanted to once again own a donut shop. Mind you, this was a time when the economy was at its lowest. Friends and family members thought it was a bad idea. Nonetheless, my parents were always ones to be against the grain, so they decided to pursue it. Fast-forward nine years later and here we are. With our successes, we have outgrown our current space off Madison Ave, and are now seeking a second brick and mortar location in the Sacramento downtown/midtown area. Our logo of the rolling pin symbolizes the passing down of experiences and knowledge, from generation to generation, while continually to grow and evolve, ‘passing the torch’ if you may. We have a display of all the pins from the shops we have owned.

Over the years, my brother and I have become more involved in Sweet Dozen but adding a different perspective to it. We wanted to carry on the classic traditional donuts, but hoped to add a more eclectic and modern twist to it. In 2013, we introduced what is known as the doissant (hybrid of croissant and donut) aka the cronut. This made local headlines, see http://www.sacbee.com/food-drink/appetizers/article2578626.html. It was from that exposure our little mom and pop donut shop became known more widely. People came from all over the area to try it. As our presence grew, we had the goal of becoming mobile in order to reach a broader demographic. In 2015, we started the Traveling Sweet Dozen mobile cart. Since then, we have catered weddings/special events and have a regular presence at the Midtown Farmers Market. We are always evolving based on our customers’ needs and sweet cravings, without sacrificing quality and service.

Early this year, we wanted to introduce a product that would again satisfy that sweet craving, yet bring in that creative ‘wow’ factor. The result is Sweet Dozen Cones. Our donut cones are also known as kurtoskalacs/trdelniks (a very popular European pastry). It is the first of its kind in the Sacramento region. Our soft opening on Labor Day far exceeded our expectations. We sold out after making over 200 donut cones. Mind you, everything is made from scratch right then and there. Weeks leading up, we had overwhelming support from our loyal social media community (via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) who promoted our product. We are forever grateful.

As the winter season is upon us, we will introduce our savory cones and bring in other new products. Make sure to follow us on our social media platforms (IG handle: @sweetdozen916) to get the latest updates.

Sweet Dozen

Sweet Dozen Cones