Lining up for Donut Joe’s

“Are you Donut Joe?” I asked, as I entered the unique corner doughnut shop just a block behind Pelham City Hall where Lee Street and Shelby 52 intersect.

The man behind the counter said, “Yes m’am. Really I’m Richard Byrd, but I’m the owner of Donut Joe’s if that’s who you’re looking for.”

I caught Byrd, alias Donut Joe, during a rare moment between customers last Saturday.

Since Donut Joe’s is conveniently located between the homes of many of my students and the high school, I’ve been hearing a great deal about the shop’s delectable doughnuts this entire school year. Since Donut Joe’s opened on June 26of last year, his donut shop has rapidly become a new favorite in the Pelham area. Some of my literary magazine students asked Byrd if he would help out with Write Night and he came through with several boxes of doughnuts for our event. As PHS senior Michael Dixon said, “The doughnuts were a big hit, and they were the first item gone at Write Night.”

Coming by to thank Byrd, I found myself talking with the idea man behind Donut Joe’s, (between customers, of course), and I also found customers eager to talk about their favorite doughnuts. Courtney Lambert journeyed all the way from West Blockton to get another sample of Donut Joe’s treats with her family. She’d been in once before and couldn’t wait to make another trip for doughnuts. She said, “These are the best doughnuts I’ve ever had.”

Lambert’s little sister Emma said, “I like the ones with the sprinkles.”

Byrd, who is both an artist and an entrepreneur, is proud of his business on many levels. Byrd created the character of Donut Joe and he does all of his own artwork and ad design. “We cook everything here everyday,” he said. “Everything in this shop is fresh.”

Byrd said, “We’ve got lots of local customers, but we also have people come to us from all over. There’s a doctor from Homewood that comes in regularly and a lady from Irondale. That’s what we want to do — draw people into Pelham from all around.”

Byrd is married to a fifth-grade teacher. The couple seem to be a collaborative combination proving that artistry, creativity and education are a powerful combination for any community — especially if you throw in some hot coffee and fresh doughnuts.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at CNolen@Shelbyed.k12.al.us