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After an unusual hiatus, Bill's Donut Shop is back in business

Bill's on a Sunday evening. A dining counter with stools is on the left, and a lit display case with waiting customers in front is on the right.
Chris Welter
/
WYSO
Bill's on a Sunday evening.

The landmark bakery was closed for a week due to a broken sewer line

Bill’s Donut Shop reopened on Sunday after a brief, unusual hiatus. The 24 hour, seven-day-a-week landmark bakery was closed because of a broken sewer line.

It was dreary and cold outside as hungry patrons waited in a makeshift line in the parking lot for the shop to re-open. A sweet bakery smell wafted through the air. Bill's reopened at 3:00 p.m., exactly one week after the shop closed.

Inside it was already hustling and bustling in the kitchen. The Cleveland Brown's game was on the radio, the fryer sizzled and staff dunked Persian rolls into a caramel glaze.

Bakers hustled trays from the kitchen out to the front of house to fill the display cases There were all sorts of goods: cookies, muffins, a colorful variety of pastries. And, of course, Bill’s famous sour cream donuts.

The main donut display case at Bill's
Chris Welter
The main donut display case at Bill's

Once the shop reopened, there was a steady stream of customers; some eating in and others taking out. The phone rang frequently with orders, especially for the shop's popular donut birthday cake. Staff picked up the phone by saying "Bill's, open 24/7."

Lisa Tucker co-owns the shop with her brother Jimmy. Her parents started Bill's in 1960. On an unusual day like Sunday, Tucker said she does a little bit of everything. Earlier that morning, she had been on baking duty.

Tucker said she saw a lot of regulars in the shop that afternoon. She said the unexpected closure was a disruption to the community they have built at the shop.

“We get a lot of people that work shift work, getting off work in the middle of the night and coming in or going in in the middle of the night. In the mornings we get the same bunch that come in and meet for coffee and then after school we get a lot of kids and parents," Tucker said. "We're really community oriented here.”

Tucker said Bill’s has struggled the past few years, like so many other businesses, with supply chain and staffing issues. But, for now, she said she’s happy Bill’s is up and running for Thanksgiving. The next time Bill's will close is for their annual ten-day holiday break, starting on Christmas Eve.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.