Operating a doughnut shop — especially one that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week — can be an all-consuming career.
Bill and Faye Elam, and founders and former owners of Bill’s Donut Shop 268 N. Main St. in Centerville, were keenly aware of that, so they insisted their children try out jobs and careers outside of the doughnut shop before they even thought of taking over the family business.
The brother-and-sister owners of Bill’s Donut Shop, Lisa Tucker and Jim Elam, worked several jobs, but when their parents finally made the offer in 1995 to take over the shop, they both said yes.
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Bill’s is busier than ever, boosted by multiple national shout-outs. But the siblings still find time to help when help is needed, including most recently the victims of Hurricane Michael, by collecting donated items.
>> Bill’s Donut Shop among top 50 in U.S., magazine says (February 2013)
Lisa Tucker and Jim Elam were our Daytonians of the Week the week of Oct. 17-24. We caught up with Lisa as she was thanking customers who came into Bill’s to drop off supplies for the donation drive. Here’s what she told us:
Tell me the story behind your brother and you taking over the shop from your parents in 1995.
Both Jimmy and I worked in other fields before we took over the shop. I worked as a court reporter, and I also worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Our mom and dad wanted us to try other things, because running this shop is a 24-hour-a-day job. When they were satisfied, and we were sure, we made our decision. We grew up in this business, and a lot of our customers are like family. This is what we like to do.
What’s a typical work day for you now?
One of us is here every day. I usually come in at 6:30 every morning. We coordinate our vacations and other events. I usually go home at a decent time, although right now, since we are in the middle of accepting donated items for Hurricane Michael victims, I’ve been putting in 12- and 14-hour days.
>> Bill's Donuts among best donut shops in nation (April 2015)
What’s been your most recent professional challenge, and how did you push through the challenge?
Trying to find employees! Everyone is struggling to find employees right now. We are open 24 hours, so we have three shifts. We offer insurance and a retirement program for full-time employees. We’ve offered to split full-time positions into part-time if that’s what an applicant wants. We’ll do whatever it takes to fill those spots. I hired two people just yesterday.
What are your favorite places to eat and/or drink in the Dayton area, besides, of course, Bill’s?
The Chop House and Paragon Supper Club. I usually order the filet at both places!
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I love to play cards! I like playing poker ... just a nice friendly game, nothing high-stakes. My brother likes to play cards too. We play poker over at his house.
What inspires you about Dayton?
Definitely the people. Centerville is such a family-oriented, giving community. We’ve had multiple generations of the same families as our customers. We’re now feeding the grandchildren of some of our customers. It’s just so neat to see the different generations coming through here. It makes it all worthwhile!
>> BEST OF DAYTON 2017: Food and dining winners