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The story of Sesame Donuts began in West Africa in 1979. Current Sesame Donuts President, Said Fakih, was a 17-year-old boy approaching high school graduation. His parents, Habib and Siham, encouraged him to leave Sierra Leone and go to Europe to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. 


While intrigued by the opportunity Europe could offer him, he remembered the members of the United States Peace Corps who visited his school. While teachers from other nations kept to themselves, the Americans embraced him and his fellow students. They’d share meals, tell stories, and even kick around the soccer ball. When it came time to decide where he was headed next, Said knew America was where he wanted to be. 


Two months before his eighteenth birthday, he packed up his life and moved to California. Fortunately, he wasn’t alone. He had two uncles who were already there running a popular donut franchise. He visited their shop and tried his very first donut. A warm glazed raised donut hole. He often jokes, “I ate it and looked up to the heavens and said one day I will own my own donut shop.” 


As he pursued his medical degree, he worked three jobs at a time, helping at his Uncle’s donut shop during the day, working at the mall in the afternoon, and waiting tables at Denny’s on the weekend. After his mother became sick in Lebanon, he brought his parents and brother to California so they could take care of her together.

In 1987, Said’s Uncle approached him and his father with an opportunity. There was an existing donut shop in Oregon for sale with the same franchise. It was located in Raleigh Hills (you see where this is going?). Nobody wanted to go, but his father Habib was determined to make it happen, even if he had to do it himself. Said and his brother, Haider, knew their father would need the help, so they left their educations behind for good and moved to Oregon.

Early on they didn’t have the resources to hire a full staff, so they would often work long hours and make beds out of bags of flour so they could wake up early and bake fresh batches. Little by little, the shop grew and at one point became a top three location in sales West of the Mississippi. 

In 1999, they decided to part ways with the popular donut franchise and create something of their own. Thus, Sesame Donuts was born. 

Since then, the company has expanded to ten locations, all of which are owned and run by five members of the family: Said, his son Yussef, his brother Haidar, his Nephew Musa, and his sister Laila.

They're all defined by the same “recipe for success” that made the original Raleigh Hills shop so successful: A commitment to serving the community, baking quality donuts from scratch, and making every single customer feel like family.


As for the future, growth is always on the mind, but never at the expense of the community-based approach that has made Sesame Donuts so special.


“I want people to see us as the family donut shop. Ten years, twenty years down the road, that’s for the kids to decide. If they keep it going with that family-friendly touch, keeping their community in mind, I'll be happy.”

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