Shortly before 1 a.m. on Friday, three individuals entered Colonial Donuts on Lakeshore Avenue. As the cashier approached them, they vaulted over the counter one by one, brandishing firearms.
"They were shouting and threatening him, pointing their guns," recounted Phing Yamamoto, the store's manager.
The assailants then barged into the backroom, instructing the three bakers to lie low while they searched for a safe. Their efforts proved fruitless, leading them back to the front of the shop, where they emptied the cash register.
The Yamamoto family has owned this particular Colonial Donuts location for nearly four decades. For them, this small business represents the embodiment of the American Dream, as their parents established it. Phing Yamamoto herself left her job at Apple to preserve the family legacy and return to her hometown of Oakland.
Yamamoto reflects on the shop's resilience, having weathered events such as the Loma Prieta earthquake, a recession, and the recent pandemic. By sharing this incident, she hopes to spark a conversation and drive change within the community. She intends to address the incident at the upcoming annual Lakeshore Merchants Association meeting on June 27, where Mayor Sheng Thao is expected to be present.
"I hope they recognize that small businesses are the lifeblood of Oakland's community. We need assistance, and we are suffering in various ways," expressed Yamamoto. "At times, I feel defeated. I don't have all the answers, but something must change."
Despite the armed robbery, Colonial Donuts remained open on Friday. The hope is that they won't have to curtail their operating hours due to ongoing criminal activities. The Oakland Police have made no arrests thus far and encourage anyone with additional information to come forward.