A tradition since 1960, the shop founded by Bill and Faye Elam originated in downtown Dayton. Through the years, Bills Donut Shop has moved numerous times. In the 1970’s, there were multiple locations in the Dayton area including the cities of: Vandalia, Wilmington, Kettering, and Huber Heights. Over time, the Elam's decided to focus their resources and talents in one store location.
In 1967, the shop was located at the intersection of Franklin and Main, close to where Panera Bread is today and the parking was one of the biggest problems in those days. Bill Elam admits that the added parking available in the current location was a big motivator in moving. In the earlier years, Bills was not open 24 hours a day. The advent of the third shift arose from the need of late night workers who would travel to work for NCR. “Back in those days, NCR was going strong and everybody south of town worked there. They all took Route 48 home-to Centerville, Lebanon or Springboro.” Faye says. Many Centerville residents worked for the company and for a while Bill would provide coffee and donuts to the workers at the back door using the honor system. Within a month, third shift was launched.
There are numerous local media celebrities like Mike Hartsock and Don Donaher that have enjoyed the atmosphere that defines the shop.
You might be surprised to know that Phil Donahue (above), who used to live in the area visited quite often before he became a talk show host in the 1970’s.
Also Congressman Mike Turner and singer Chet Atkins are among the past patrons.
Lisa and Jim have made sure that the friendly atmosphere and hospitality that has defined the shop since its beginning remains a mainstay today. When asked why the shop has been such a success, Lisa said, “We know many of our customers by name, we’re very family oriented.”
In the past few years, Lisa and Jim have added newer items like danishes, buckeyes, cupcakes, cookies, as well as cappuccino. In the past few months, the donut shop has added the use of credit cards to make purchases and a new gift card that can be bought for any denomination. In Centerville, Bills would have to be considered one of the oldest businesses, and hopefully it will be here for many more years.