Alok (AL) Oberoi
I actually love this place, I can see satisfaction with customers. Achieving something, giving them some happiness, some respect. This is my way to do it. It comes from my heart.
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An Excerpt from Joe’s Neighborhood:
The smiling man behind the counter is Al. Al is from New Delhi, India. Al, whose full name is Alok, is schooled in irony. Donuts is not his chosen profession. He was trained in information technology, for which he came to Chicago in 1989. After a while, his work could be done more cheaply in India. And you guessed it, his job in America was outsourced to his former country. Al was unemployed. See, irony. With a wife and two kids and a mother and father who needed his care, he came to Des Moines looking for opportunity. Lo and behold, the Donut Hut opened up as a possibility. And Al hit the ground running. Before long, his spotless store with amazing donuts was filled with students, parents, teachers, construction workers, truckers and most importantly, the church ladies from Holy Trinity. Check it out. An immigrant’s success story.
Ah, but of course there’s more. “I treat everyone at the shop as a family member,” Al said in his soft lilt.
Well, you might like to know that Al’s definition of “family” includes his employees, you, me and that pierced kid coming in the door. Don’t believe it? Ask Al’s dad, who is in Des Moines on a visit.
“My son understands people’s feelings heart to heart. Customers who get an ‘A’ in their schooling, he gives a free donut — that is a wonderful thing,” said Roy Oberoi. Roy is of another time and another place. Soft-spoken, dapper, with a European twist to his scarf and a stoicism that leaves little room for facial movement.
“I simply watch,” Roy said of his involvement in the business. But, watch he does.
Donuts for A’s, did he say? kitty-corner to the donut shop is an alternative high school. Al spoke with pride of the students who visit his shop.
“The students have been very nice,” Al said. “Yes, they did mess up, what they did is not right, and they need to change. I’m proud of how they come to my shop and behave. They know the value of education. If they improve, they should be rewarded.”
See, Al is your guardian angel. Al’s dad nodded with approval. “Perhaps he’s going beyond my expectations because he enjoys very much little ones – small children – he has come to their age.” Roy Said.
Is this all baloney? Does Al really “Come to our age?”
“I actually love this place,” Al said. “I can see satisfaction with customers. Achieving something, giving them some happiness, some respect. This is my way to do it. It comes from my heart.
“When people leave my shop, no matter how they walk in, they leave happy and with a smile on their face.”
Roy imperceptibly nodded in Agreement with his son. A father and his son. Practicing the moral life. A bedrock in the shifting sands.
By Joe Weeg
“Amazing service from genuinely nice, hard working husband and wife team! Excellent donuts! Everytime we’re here they always give my boys free donut holes! Love This Place!!!”Trish Dohrn said on FourSquare
“The best donuts in the Des Moines area. Love this place. The cake donuts are the best…my favorites are the blueberry and chocolate chip! Go early…it’s a small place and sometimes they run out of flavors. Staff is friendly and helpful. Highly recommend!”Jaime F. said on Yelp