BEST OF DAYTON: Bill’s Donut Shop is legendary for its treats. But it does even more than you know

The “closed” sign hung uncharacteristically on the door of the Centerville mainstay that is normally open all day every day.

Bill’s Donut Shop owners Lisa Elam-Tucker and Jim Elam were forced into a weeklong closure in November because of a collapsed sewer line. But rather than bemoan the unexpected problem, Lisa quickly got on the phone, offering the Life Enrichment Center and the House of Bread hundreds of donuts that couldn’t be sold.

Donuts are their business, but people are their priority. That connection to community — and delicious favorites — led voters to name Bill’s first place in Best Donut Shop for the sixth straight Best of Dayton contest.

“I don’t want to throw anything away, there are so many people who could use it,” Lisa said.

Generosity is a trait that that Lisa and Jim learned from their parents, Bill and Faye Elam. The couple made the first wish of the Dayton chapter of A Special Wish Foundation a reality in 1983. Close to four decades later, that connection with A Special Wish continues and a small donation box has a permanent place on the donut shop counter.

That relationship with the community goes both ways.

“When we shut down because of COVID, we got so many calls and notes, wondering what people could do for us,” Lisa said. “When we reopened, they were lined up around the building and down the block, all the way to the bank.”

“Hard work pays off,” Lisa said. “We make all of our own icings and cream fillings. We cut and shape our own donuts, and there are no preservatives.”

That attention to taste and quality has earned the Centerville shop national recognition from USA Today, Saveur magazine, People, and They even got a shoutout on Ellen.

“It blows me away every time,” Jim said of the accolades. “I wish dad was around to see it.”

Lisa and Jim purchased the business in 1995 from their parents and the siblings have been running it ever since. Donuts, after all, are in their blood.

Credit: Jim Witmer

Credit: Jim Witmer

And times have brought changes to Bill’s

“It used to be people would sit and have coffee and stay awhile,” Lisa said. “People are in a hurry now, we need to slow down and catch our breath.”

And have a donut. All these years later, both Lisa and Jim still enjoy donuts.

“We pretty much eat them every day,” Lisa said.

Their favorites?

“I like the cinnamon roll,” Lisa said.

“I eat a glazed twist almost every morning,” Jim said.

Bill’s Donut Shop

First Place: Best Donuts

268 N. Main St., Centerville


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