Hot, fresh and here

If you’ve driven down U.S. 31 near City Hall in the early morning hours, you’ve probably smelled the sweet aroma of doughnuts in the air.

That smell is coming from Donut Joe’s, and the place has quickly become a morning routine for many Pelham residents and commuters who pass by the small store on the corner of Shelby County 52 and Lee Street.

Although the place looks like and has the feel of a business that has been open for years, in reality it is in its infancy, only being open nine weeks.

“It has been unbelievable,” said owner Richard Byrd. “It has blown my expectations away.”

Byrd said he had always wanted to open a business like Donut Joe’s and when the location opened up and the opportunity presented itself, he said he had to jump on it.

But in a down economy, he did so with a some reservation.

“Just like any business, it has its risks and it was huge risk for me to do this,” Byrd said. “But everybody likes doughnuts.”

The risk has paid off for Byrd, and customers are taking to the varieties being offered at Donut Joe’s.

The business offers a variety of coffees, including iced, while also offering muffins, twists and fritters.

Byrd said he also plans to offer hot drinks, like hot cocoa and apple cider, during the winter months.

But the staple of the place is the doughnuts.

Joe’s offers cake and yeast varieties, while also putting a twist on the age-old favorites.

Joe’s uses original glaze, maple glaze, chocolate and caramel, among others, while mixing things up with the toppings.

On any given day, Joe’s has doughnuts topped with items such as colored sprinkles, crushed Oreos, pecans and even cereals like Fruity Pebbles.

“There are so many varieties of doughnuts,” Byrd said. “It’s impossible to do the same doughnuts everyday.”

The business also offers cream-filled doughnuts with fillings like blackberry, raspberry and chocolate.

Byrd said he has gotten some of his ideas from watching the Food Network, of which he said he is a big fan.

“And I thought, ‘Why can’t we do that in Pelham?’” Byrd said.

Other doughnuts recipes have come to Byrd naturally, while some have been suggested by customers.

“It’s fun and people talk about it,” Byrd said.

Donut Joe’s is currently open Tuesday-Saturday from 6 a.m.-noon.

While the hours seem to be limited, Byrd said the business begins preparing for the day around 1 a.m.

As the business grows, though, Byrd said he anticipates increasing the hours and days the business operates.

“I’d rather be open 6-12 and offer an excellent product than somebody come in and not get a fresh doughnuts,” Byrd said.