BOWLING GREEN— When Alex Taing arrived at his parents’ donut shop on Sunday morning, he couldn’t find a parking spot. He had to park at the laundromat next door.
Things had gotten very busy at the Great American Donut Shop on Saturday night around dinner time— around the same time that Alex arrived home from Lexington, where he is a UK freshman majoring in chemistry.
More commonly known as GADS, the Bowling Green shop will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. Its owners are Alex’s parents, Yong and Sae Taing, who immigrated to the United States from Cambodia.
At 5:55 p.m. (CST) Saturday, a Facebook post began circulating that said “apparently GADS is suffering because of virus fear and racism.”
Since news of the COVID-19 outbreak in China began spreading, social media posts have shared instances of Asian-owned businesses suffering because of fear of the virus.
Yong Taing said that business was “a little slower than normal” before Saturday night’s rush began.
Yong said she thinks there was a combination of causes. The 24/7 donut shop is located near Western Kentucky University’s campus, and WKU students have been on spring break this week.
Another factor, Yong feels, was “the anxiety surrounding the coronavirus outbreak in our nation.”
The Facebook post encouraged Bowling Green residents to go support GADS— and Bowling Green listened.
Another widely shared Facebook post, at 8:18 p.m., shared pictures to show that “BG turned out.” According to the post, the line wrapped around the building.
That’s why Alex, who said he didn’t actually work at GADS that much while growing up, was called in this morning to fold boxes. The shop had sold so many dozens of donuts that he was needed as reinforcements.
By noon on Sunday, the line was mostly contained indoors. One young customer looked through the window at the donut display and said he wanted more than just 12 donuts— “I want two dozen,” he told his mom.
Alex sat at the end of the counter, continuing to fold boxes. He pointed to the nearly ceiling-high stack of boxes behind the counter and said he had folded all of them that morning.
At one of the booths, recent high school graduates Kelli Gore and Elizabeth Tritz ate their donuts.
Gore had seen the Facebook post, which she said made her sad because she had frequently gone to GADS while growing up.
“I just couldn’t deal with it,” Gore said.
So she mentioned the post to Tritz, who said, “Oh no, I gotta go.”
Tritz said GADS has been one of her favorites ever since she moved to Bowling Green. She said it’s definitely considered a Bowling Green staple.
Gore works at Kroger, so she said she understands how the coronavirus is affecting Bowling Green. She said she’s not scared of the virus, but she is “scared of what is happening.
One of the Facebook posts joked that the line outside of GADS looked like a toilet paper aisle at Walmart.
Yong, who provided information via text because she had so little time to take a break from the busyness on Sunday, said she and others at GADS are thankful to Bowling Green.
“We are overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from this loving community,” she wrote.