March 4, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Farewell to a Legend: Primo’s Donuts Founder Remembered in Heartfelt Celebration

Community Gathers to Honor Ralph Primo SR., Entrepreneur, and Family Man

By Keemia Zhang

The life of Ralph Primo Sr., who passed away at 93 earlier this month, was commemorated last Saturday at the beloved Sawtelle donut shop he and his wife, Celia, founded nearly 70 years earlier.

“He just had a very extraordinary life. Artist, businessman, artisanal baker, family guy, community guy,” remarked his son, Ralph Jr., who took over the business ten years ago. In 1956, Ralph Sr., a University High School track star and Korean War veteran, sought to purchase a house for his family – after an offer fell through, he walked into a donut shop to look for a treat for his son and left with an enterprise of his own. 

“Back then, none of this was here,” said Ralph Jr., gesturing to the traffic and strip malls that populate the West LA neighborhood. “ The school was here, but there were bean fields. The 405 back there was all corn. It took a while to get the business going, but, you know, through their love together, my mom and dad ran the place themselves.”

For decades, the Primos woke in the early hours to work the shop while raising three children. “My dad getting up at 1 in the morning, making the donuts, my mom coming in at five and working, then running home to get us breakfast, get us to school, and coming back and finishing. It was topsy-turvy.” 

Ralph Jr.’s son Nick, who runs operations, referred to the shop as “the pillar of the family” and praised his grandparents’ signature customer service. “My grandma always talked to kids with families; my grandpa did magic tricks. Some people [would] come in 10 minutes before they opened and wanted donuts, and he’d say, “Okay, I’ll make it for you right now – here they are hot, fresh, and ready for you.” 

Today, Primo’s Donuts is considered by multiple publications to be among the best donut shops in the city, state, and country, having survived both LA’s recessions and pandemic lockdowns.   Since Primo Sr.’s passing, the donut shop’s social media has been flooded with comments from loyal customers, whose goodwill the Primos credit with the store’s endurance: “People will come in and say I was brought there with my grandparents, and now I’m bringing my grandkids with me.”

Aside from ventures in dining – Ralph Sr. ran the successful nearby Mexican eatery Casa Primo before it was taken over by KFC – and real estate, Ralph Sr. was deeply involved in community and civic activities. “They were not only working full time, they were Little League coach, Girl Scout Den Mother, Boy Scout ambassador.” In the 60s and 70s, Ralph Sr. helped found the Westside Community Council and the neighborhood watch.

His interests were very iconoclastic, almost,” said Nick Primo. “He would pan for gold when he could go up to Yosemite. He loved astronomy, stargazing, and telescopes. He loved to draw different styles. He loved music and loved to dance. […] He was 21, and my grandma was 19 when they got married. I believe they were a young family and had a business before they were 30.”  

Aside from some aspects of modernization – such as adding high-end coffee to the menu – the shop’s recipes and traditions remain the same. “The shop is a lot more than just donuts,” states Ralph Sr.” “Donuts are great; we make good donuts. But it’s about love, the community, and family. […] We’ve served four generations of families, which is quite unusual in Los Angeles.”

Customers looking forward to being part of the fifth generation can taste Primo’s Donuts iconic recipes – including their trademark buttermilk – at their Sawtelle and Westwood locations, open seven days a week.

Related Posts

Two New Mixed-Use Developments Near Sony Studios in Palms Unveiled

March 3, 2024

March 3, 2024

Stylish Developments Emerge at Washington Blvd and Motor Ave Just across from Sony Pictures Studios, in the Palms district, a...

LA City Council Greenlights Master Leasing Program to Tackle Homelessness Crisis

March 3, 2024

March 3, 2024

Unanimous Vote Sets Stage for Different Approach to Expand Housing Options The Los Angeles City Council came one step closer...

LAHSA Report Exposes Failures of Anti-Camping Ordinance, Allegedly Kept Secret Since November

March 3, 2024

March 3, 2024

City Controller and Council Members Speak Out Against Withheld Report  LA City Controller Kenneth Meija posted comments on social media...

Hollywood Prepares for 96th Oscars: Street Closures and Traffic Updates Revealed

March 1, 2024

March 1, 2024

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Ceremony to Close Local Streets The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,...

Culver City Police Department Disperse Reckless Driving Gathering Near Costco

February 29, 2024

February 29, 2024

CCPD Officers Successfully De-Escalates Situation, Crowd Disperses Culver City Police Department officers responded to a series of calls over the...

Construction Alert: Topanga Canyon Boulevard Faces Nightly Closures Starting March 4

February 29, 2024

February 29, 2024

Caltrans Announces 18-Mile Project Spanning Chatsworth to PCH Commuters in the Los Angeles area should prepare for significant delays as...

FTC Takes Legal Action to Block $24.6 Billion Kroger-Albertsons Merger

February 29, 2024

February 29, 2024

Largest Proposed Supermarket Merger Faces Antitrust Allegations The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to block Kroger...

Regarding Her Dinner at Hatchet Hall is Part of Planned Women’s History Month Celebration

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Events Showcase Women-Led Farms, Vineyards, and Chefs, Supporting ‘Regarding Her’ Nonprofit Hatchet Hall, the renowned Culver City restaurant, invited patrons...

Leap Day Brings Once-in-Four-Year Deals at Popular Restaurants All Day Long

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’, and More Roll Out Special Offers to Mark the Occasion Leap Day, that rare additional day occurring...

Sweet Lady Jane’s Social Media Tease Continues As Locations Sport Hiring Notices

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Mysterious Posts Leave Fans Eager for the Return, But Questions Linger By Dolores Quintana After resurfacing on social media, the...

(Video) Pro-Palestine Protest at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Protesters were there to protest the arrival of U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi Counter-protesters drove by in a car. @culvercitywlanews Pro-Palestine...

(Video) Restaurants Replace Glass Front Doors After Late Night Robbery Spree in Del Ray

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Seven restaurants and small businesses in Del Rey and Venice, including Nick the Greek and Dudley Market, were robbed. Council...

Hollywood Royalty to Shine at 96th Oscars: First Wave of Star-Studded Presenter Lineup Unveiled

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Incredible Lineup of Actors and Previous Oscar Winners Announced Executive producer and showrunner Raj Kapoor, along with executive producers Molly...

Vote Smart, Vote Early: Streamlining Your 2024 Presidential Primary Experience in L.A. County

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Skip the Lines and Save Time – Your Guide to Early Voting Options  In preparation for the upcoming 2024 Presidential...

Overnight Burglaries Rattle Del Rey, Venice: LAPD Investigates String of Incidents

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Seven Businesses Targeted, Including Nick the Greek and Dudley Market The Los Angeles Police Department officers are investigating a series...