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Local doughnut shop among top 50 in U.S., magazine says

Saveur — a national magazine that focuses on food, restaurants and recipes — has named Bill’s Donut Shop in Centerville one of the “50 Finest Donut Shops in America.”

Bill’s was the only doughnut shop in Ohio to be included in the magazine’s story entitled “The World’s Best Donuts: The 50 Finest Donut Shops in America,” in the foodie magazine’s March 2013 issue.

“This low-slung, swivel-stooled favorite makes a twisted and glazed pretzel donut that packs maximum cake satisfaction,” Saveur wrote about the Centerville shop.

Bill’s Donut Shop was founded in 1960 in downtown Dayton, and moved to Centerville in 1967. In the 1970s, there were several Bill’s locations in the Dayton area, including Vandalia, Kettering and Huber Heights. The shop moved to its current location at 268 N. Main St. (Ohio 48) in Centerville in 1979.

Lisa Tucker, co-owner of Bill’s and the daughter of the shop’s founders, said neither she nor her brother and co-owner Jim Elam were aware that they’d been selected until a customer alerted them. “We were pleasantly surprised,” Tucker said.

After reported the story Wednesday morning, the phone “started ringing off the hook,” Tucker said.

And the online story also triggered a war of words on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter between Bill’s supporters and fans of other doughnut shops, including enthusiasts of Springfield-based Schuler’s Bakery. Founded in 1937, Schuler’s has been around 23 years longer than Bill’s, and it also has generated a fiercely loyal customer base.

“I suspect that whoever nominated Bill’s didn’t know about Schuler’s, or they’d never experienced Schuler’s,” Schuler’s Bakery President Mike Peters said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “If a taste test had been conducted, we would have been ranked better than Bill’s.”

Both Peters and Tucker said their doughnut shops have remained true to the founders’ recipes created decades ago.

This isn’t the first time Saveur has shined a favorable spotlight on the Dayton area’s food and dining scene. In 2010, Anne Kearney, co-owner and chef of Rue Dumaine restaurant in Washington Twp., made the “Saveur 100” list in which the magazine invited readers to submit favorite food finds. In 2009, Jungle Jim’s International Market in Fairfield earned a spot in a Top 100 list that focused on home cooking. And in a summer 2008 issue, Saveur sang the praises of two Dayton icons, Mike-Sell’s Potato Chips and the Pine Club restaurant.

Interestingly, while Bill’s made this national “best doughnut shop” list, another local shop, Granny C’s Bakery in Huber Heights, bested Bill’s and every other Dayton-area doughnut shop in both the “Best Bakery” and “Best Doughnut” categories in the Active Dayton 2012 “Best of Dayton” competition.

And then there’s Schuler’s Bakery in Springfield, which also has its passionate fans.

So, who does make the best doughnuts? Bill’s? Granny C’s? Schuler’s? Or some other doughnut shop?

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