It never ceases to amaze me how many hidden treasures exist in L.A. I have lived in Southern California for more than 15 years and am still discovering new-to-me buildings, neighborhoods, shops, and landmarks. One of my more recent finds is The Donut Hole, located at 15300 Amar Road in La Puente. I learned of the historic doughnut shop thanks to the book L.A. Bizarro and became smitten upon seeing a photograph of its unique programmatic architecture. When I found out the place was a filming location to boot, I decided it was a must-see.
Programmatic architecture was highly popular in the 1920s and ‘30s, during the dawn of the automobile era. Stores and restaurants were built to attract motorists and were often shaped to resemble the items available for sale. According to the Los Angeles Conservancy, The Donut Hole is one of Southern California’s very best examples of the architectural style.
The building, which was designed by architects John Tindall, Ed McCreany and Jesse Hood, was constructed in 1968 and is the second location for The Donut Hole chain. The structure consists of two fiberglass doughnuts with 26-foot diameters connected by a stucco and wood drive-thru tunnel. Though there were once five Donut Hole outposts across Southern California, the company went belly-up in 1979 and the La Puente outpost is the last remaining location. The 24-hour site is still going strong and serves up coffee, sandwiches, muffins, bagels, croissants, and, of course, doughnuts.
The Los Angeles Conservancy has called The Donut Hole “one of the most photographed donut shops in the country,” so it should come as no surprise that the site has also appeared on the big screen. It is where Deputy Halik (James Keach) and his partner, Deputy Virginia Morris (Lisa Hart Carroll), inadvertently—and rather comically—destroy Chief Rowe’s (Robert Conrad) car in the 1985 comedy Moving Violations. I had not heard of the film before I started looking into The Donut Hole, but ended up enjoying the flick. In addition to offering up plenty of laughs, the movie showcases spectacular imagery of 1980s L.A.
The Donut Hole also makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in the 1993 movie Calendar Girl. Three 1960s teens played by Jason Priestley, Jerry O’Connell, and Gabriel Olds drive through the doughnut shop while visiting Los Angeles in hopes of meeting Marilyn Monroe.
Being that National Doughnut Day was last week, I realize I am a bit late to the game with this post. But as anyone who’s ever eaten the circular treat can tell you, there’s no need for an occasion to enjoy one.
Lindsay Blake is an actress, writer, celebrity admirer and Los Angeles enthusiast who contributes to CityThink each Thursday. Her true love is filming locations, and she founded the Web site IAMNOTASTALKER in 2007 to document her vast findings on the subject. For more “stalking” fun, you can follow Lindsay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.