Iconic Randy’s Donuts touches down in El Segundo

A pop culture slam dunk

When Russell Wendell created the first of his Big Donut Drive-In locations in Westmont, California in 1950, he wanted to make sure the restaurant stood out from any and all competitors. Reflecting back a few decades to a novelty architectural style popular in the ‘20s and ‘30s known as Whimsical (the original Brown Derby Restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard being its most well-known example), he came up with the answer.

Each of his locations would have an actual three-story-high, steel-and-gunite doughnut as part of the building. With the help of designer Henry J. Goodwin, not only would the gigantic structures be visible for blocks, they would be talked about for miles. Word-of-mouth was huge.

The building became as important as the business. More significantly, an icon was born. Once their doors opened, standing out from the competition was never again an issue.

Of the 10 Big Donut Drive-Ins that Wendell opened during the ‘50s, five still remain. The second location in Inglewood, which premiered in 1953, was sold in 1976 and renamed Randy’s Donuts. Just two years later brothers Ron Weintraub and Larry Weintraub took over, kept the new name and held the reins for nearly 40 successful years.

In addition to having that giant brown halo hovering overhead, the crowds have been lining up for decades for another reason: Randy’s doughnuts are good … really good. Nearly 10,000 of the fancifully decorated cakes are sold daily.

Open 24 hours every day of the week, Randy’s Donuts has continued to include their originally chosen fine ingredients on their menu, as well as an unparalleled variety of product—affordably priced and still made by hand. You’d better like it rich and sweet: The cooks don’t scrimp on frostings, icings, fillings or those crazy colorful confetti sprinkles.

If you’re in the mood for excess, their Premium Donut line features red velvet with vanilla ganache, among the other out-of-control recipes. The 40-item menu includes a Breakfast Donut composed of various combinations of sausage, bacon, eggs, hash browns and cheese served on a glazed donut roll.

Their donut holes are fittingly gargantuan (and delicious). Travelers buy them by the cartons to bring home. And yes, there’s coffee.

Randy’s Donuts is consistently found at the top of the latest best-of lists. The eatery places first in online reviews and has won countless awards. Let’s just say it’s been working.

Their charitable efforts include donating doughnuts and gift certificates by the dozens to local churches, schools and other nonprofit groups. For their entire history they have supplied free freshly baked goodies to local homeless programs.

Recognized worldwide, the Inglewood location’s image has appeared in countless films, TV shows, music videos and photography. A must-visit destination for tourists, there is never a time when the 32-foot-high temptation isn’t having its picture taken. The “world’s most famous doughnut” is used as a symbol for Los Angeles in airport murals and travel brochures throughout the world.

Recently sold to businessman Mark Kelegian, the future looks even brighter for Randy’s Donuts as two recently opened locations in El Segundo’s Apollo Landing and Westfield Century City already have pastry connoisseurs lining up. In addition, five more new locations have been cleared and are preparing to turn on the ovens soon, including spots in Hollywood, Torrance and Downey.

As if that weren’t enough, plans for another 15 restaurants—including Orange County and Las Vegas—are currently in the works, as are global franchise opportunities.

As Albert Einstein once wrote: “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”

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