Sun. May 26th, 2024

Dough Exchange

“In late 2014, Jason Quinn, the chef-owner of The Playground, opened Dough Exchange next door to his critically acclaimed restaurant in downtown Santa Ana. But the Fourth Street bakery has struggled to generate foot traffic and sales, forcing Quinn to toss out freshly baked goods and breads every night,” according to the OC Register.

In attempt to resuscitate the storefront, Quinn told the Register on Thursday that he’s going to offer baked goods for free starting Friday. Dine-in customers will be limited to two items such as doughnuts, pastries, and meat pies. In exchange for the free food, Quinn is asking customers to fill out a form that provides him feedback on what they like and dislike about the food and prices.

This is pretty hilarious considering that Quinn famously has rejected all input from his customers!  His philosophy has been that he is the Chef and you will eat what he cooks the way he cooks it – your opinion be damned.

In one glaring example a customer of Quinn’s overpriced Playground restaurant gave it a 1-star rating on Yelp with a comment that was over five paragraphs long, touching on everything from the forced 3% gratuity, refusal to cook Kobe Beef well done, chef’s family walking around “trying to be restauranteurs,” and soggy french fries, according to Food Beast.  Quinn’s response was to tell the customer to fu*k off and burn in hell!

So why is the Dough Exchange failing?  Simple – the DTSA gentrifiers have never cared about the people who already live here in Santa Ana.  They market only to outsiders – and they charge too damn much!

Moya's Bakery

The Dough Exchange cannibalized what used to be Moya’s Bakery – a panaderia where you could buy pan dulce for about fifty cents a piece.  The owner of Moya’s Bakery was pushed out by the landlord so that Quinn could sell overpriced donuts.  Karma!

Pizza Donuts
The Pizza Donuts


So what about the food at the Dough Exchange?  Here are what Yelpers have to say about it:

  • This place sucked! Stale donuts with no flavor. if I can give no stars I would. no more spending money in a sucky a*s place.
  • I had a salted caramel glazed doughnut and coconut cream coated croissant. Each was tough. The big boo boo was not checking the condition of the underside of the croissant. It was black. Not dark golden, not brown. But black. Charred and bitter.
  • I ordered the pumpkin spice and the donut holes. The pumpkin spice was okay, a light pumpkin flavor but cold and a little dry. The donut holes turned out to be very dry and very cold. I don’t expect it to be hot and fresh out of the oven, but it tasted like it’s been sitting around for too long. The donuts were also too dense. I like my donuts light and fluffy.
  • Oh sigh. Quite disappointed…Tried their ham and white cheddar cheese croissant which was mediocre at best. Lacking in cheese and ham was a thin strip and not like normal ham in a croissant. So stingy!! Also tried their lemon thyme donut and I tasted the light lemon (which was good) but not the thyme. The dough itself was bad bad bad. Not cakey like those typical blueberry donuts and not light/airy like normal donuts. The result? A dry donut that resembles a Chinese donut (for my Asian peeps who know what I’m talking about).
  • I was excited to see hear about another premium doughnut shop in Orange County. In fact I have never been to Downtown Santa Ana until I sopped here. And I was greatly disappointed. We ordered 2 of each (we had high hopes) but each doughnut was extremely dry (even the ones they just dressed) they were tasteless. The doughnut holes were awful (were they leftover from yesterday)? My husband who will eat anything did not care for them (WOW).. Apparently burger talent does not transfer to doughnuts.
  • I perused their doughnuts and pastries and ended up with the pizza doughnut. The dough was like a doughnut with some cheese melted on top. Even warmed up, I wasn’t a fan. There wasn’t actually any marinara to go with it. Maybe that should be a side to enhance the pizza flavor, but as is, it’s simply dough greased by the hardened cheese on top.
  • Ordered the ham and cheese croissant, which was too salty. Lemon bar was too sweet and not tarty enough, the carne asada empanada was ok. All three items for $14.
  • I was expecting these donuts to be light and fluffy. They were a bit too chewy for me. Also I felt these donuts are overpriced.
  • I’ve tried 4 different items so far. While I’m sure they’ve used top quality ingredients that cost a premium (and result in a premium price for everything), unfortunately I can’t really say that I can taste the premium-ness. The descriptions of the items sound great like Vietnamese Coffee Glazed Donut and Yuzu Jelly Filled but everything has been a little disappointing compared to the anticipation. For instance, I really couldn’t taste anything in the Vietnamese Coffee donut that would suggest its namesake. And I’m Vietnamese! D’oh!
  • Sweets have been a disappointment overall, the cookies besides the somoa have been very dense, donuts are eh but also very dense, croissants are not flaky enough and again very dense. the ham n cheese croissant was tasty but like a brick.
Wagyu beef meat pie & Fruity Pebbles glazed doughnut
The Wagyu beef meat pie & Fruity Pebbles glazed doughnut


Overpriced food?  The food isn’t good?  Recipe for FAIL!

I can’t wait for the Orange County Health Department to visit the Dough Exchange.  Just look at the health violation record of the Playground:

The Playground was inspected on June 27, last year, and issued these health violations:

  • Improper Warewashing/Inoperable Dishmachine
  • Evidence of Vermin Activity/Presence of Animals/Insects
  • Lack of/Unsanitary/Condition Walls/Floors/Ceilings
  • Improper Holding Temperatures of PHF
  • Unsanitary Equipment/Utensil/Linen/Plumbing

A previous inspection of the Playground on Jan. 30, last year, resulted in these health violations:

  • Eating/Drinking/Smoking in Food Storage/Prep Areas
  • Evidence of Vermin Activity/Presence of Animals/Insects
  • Improper Food Storage/Receiving
  • Inoperable/Lack of Food Thermometer
  • Lack of/Unsanitary/Condition Walls/Floors/Ceilings
  • Uncleanliness of Premises/Trash Storage
  • Improper Holding Temperatures of PHF
  • Unsanitary Equipment/Utensil/Linen/Plumbing

If you are going to overcharge for food at least serve it in a clean and healthy setting!

So is the failure of the Dough Exchange a hint of things to come in DTSA?

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

17 thoughts on “Is the Dough Exchange’s failure a sign of things to come in DTSA?”
  1. Or is this all some clickbait to stir up nonexistent drama? If you don’t like anything at the Playground, it’s FREE. Nobody’s forcing you to eat there either way.

    Also, the 3% gratuity goes to the cooks: the brains behind the operation.

    If you’re going by Yelp reviews, Moya’s had a 3-star rating which included reviews such as: “This appears to be a family run busines and unfortunately not one these individuals were ever taught politeness.”

    I love that there’s a great selection of restaurants in DTSA, and I work there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to go to a quinceniera shop or how many other Mexican bakeries there already are in the city. It’s immigration, but in the opposite direction.

  2. Good News for Jason:

    GD is depressed. Lying in bed, he can’t get up. Otherwise he would send his whole family (well he calls them his family) to steal all the free bread they need to feed the Manila cabal. Guy is freakin’ WHACKED!

    Doesn’t matter. Send food to those who need it!

  3. You wish. You so wish. Nobody is failing. Sorry, you’re not right and your wishes of the DT crumbling ain’t gonna happen. The owner is not stupid. Don’t be so jealous and hateful all your life. Go get yourself a free donut and try loving humans and wanting them to succeed. What the heck happened to you as a child? So many years of you being mean.

      1. It’s wont happen and you know it. Loving every minute of it! Btw-wursthaus will be open 2/15! Your blog stops nothing. Maybe you should turn your hate around and be useful in this world. Even you can be forgiven.

        1. Good grief. Chill out. Of you want these businesses to succeed you should advise them to lower their prices and reach out to our local community.

          1. I am chilled out. Relaxing at Dough Exchange. No hate. Supporting the downtown. Sorry. Worry about chilling yourself.

  4. DTSA has some good places, but it’s not exactly the food destination people pretend, it’s mediocre at best and overpriced and bland at worst. It just does not measure up, it’s like they are trying to hard to be cool.

      1. After lying to the city council to get a liquor permit, these guys had to close for lunch, refinance their Floral park home to make rent. I call that NOT cool, but foolish.

        Food is so-so. Service SUCKS. It is again an overpriced ho-hum experience.

        It is really not that cool, unless you think taking pictures of your food and sending to your friends is “cool”.

  5. The “Dough Exchange” HAAAAAA HAAAA. what’s the interest rate at the Dough Exchange? 300% U.S. Dollars? Or do we need to convert to Yen or Yuan?

  6. hahaha. I find your hatred of DTSA intriguing. Too bad typing on a computer ain’t gunna stop anything down there.

      1. Which is why the Quinn’s have several successful businesses and you have this blog and this blog. Ha.

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