Alljoy Donuts changing hands, in good hands: So, first, the rumors are true. Bill and Donna Ellis have sold the cinder-block haven on Heyward Street known as Alljoy Donut Company. Since coming onto the scene in 2018, the Ellis duo and their team of baking magicians have captivated the taste buds of long-timers and visitors alike.

It is truly hard to believe it was just a three-plus year journey with Bill and Donna. That’s how amazing their donuts and their fritters and all the creations are. They are open just three days a week, but when your day starts at midnight each day, time adds up quick.

The couple met at a restaurant, and they’ve lived their lives in eateries. This was actually the fourth restaurant venture they’ve owned together, and it was never meant to be a long-term endeavor.

This is more a capper, the living of a lifelong dream for the couple and a perfect spot for Donna, a trained cake artiste, to showcase her passion.

Bill was so masterful at guerilla marketing out of the gates, delivering to police and firehouses and posting all his creations on social media. It’s largely why it feels like Alljoy Donuts is a 25-year institution, because of the hustle that engrained the couple to the community so quickly.

They are now headed for retirement in Florida, but not before passing the torch to an unlikely successor.

Troy and Kristie Derda were Midwestern empty nesters looking for a place for the next chapter of life. They’d visited Bluffton many times and decided this was the spot.

Troy is a VP for a computer company based in Chicago and can work from anywhere. Kristie’s family was in the restaurant business, she worked at The Four Seasons as a waitress through college, and most recently worked as a dental hygienist and an ACT high school test prep instructor.

So, how do they end up in a donut shop? A realtor showed them the Ellis house, and told them that the owners, Bill and Donna, owned Alljoy as well.

“It really intrigued us. We ended up buying the house and the more we looked at Alljoy, the more we just couldn’t pass up the chance. It just felt like a perfect next step for us, an amazing way to jump right into Bluffton life,” Kristie said in a recent phone interview as the couple worked on the “Grand Passing of the Torch.”

The Derdas have been working with the Ellises, training for the past months. Part of the sale included all of the 40-plus recipes and equipment in the shop.

It’s really about the base recipe of Ellis’ mystical glazed and chocolate donut madness. Everything else, from the Froot Loops and Fruity Pebbles donuts to the maple bacon donut to the Yoda donut to celebrate May the Fourth, that’s the creativity of Ellis on display.

It’s not just Bill and Donna though.

Baker Rob has been with Bill since the beginning, coming in at midnight to get the stand mixers and dough fired up. Baker Noah is a more recent addition over the past few months and is not far behind at 1 a.m. They’ll both be staying on, as will Cathy and Kelli as the front-of-house team.

“We’re going to add our flair to the scenery, but the product isn’t changing. The attention to the customer isn’t changing,” Kristie Derda said. “We’re not going to micromanage and mess up what’s working, we’re just looking to foster the next chapter.”

Could that include an expansion of the enterprise beyond Heyward Street? Let the couple get their hands sauced up in flour for a few months already, will ya? An Alljoy Donut on every street corner is the Bluffton sweet tooth’s dream, but all things in due time.

A pharmacy and soda fountain in Okatie: Some of you not old enough to know might think we’re talking about a drug store with a Coca-Cola Freestyle touchscreen machine. Oh, no. We’re talking about the old-school Woolworth’s-style effort that Ron, Judy, Jacob and Megan Dotson have started outside the Sun City gates at 16 William Pope Drive.

Beaufort Drug Company will have a full-service pharmacy, a gift shop full of unique offerings and a counter to sit at and enjoy ice cream sodas, milkshakes and egg creams. The spot opened up in early October and is already causing a buzz among the Sun City crowd.

I am thrilled to introduce my kids to a taste of how I grew up. What a cool addition to the already eclectic Bluffton business landscape. They’re open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check out their Facebook page to hear about their latest events, such as a Tuesday Ladies’ Night event.

Whisper Creek officially open: Bluffton’s only luxury day spa has opened in the old Golden Corral location on Fording Island Road. Whisper Creek Spa celebrated its ribbon cutting Oct. 28 after a few months of soft opening service. Cincinnati transplants Robert and Jennifer Wolfe have travelled the globe to draw inspiration to bring five-star luxury to the Lowcountry.

For more information, check them out at

We finally have a quickie oil change spot: You’ve seen it coming from below the ground up for months now in the Sam’s Club/Walmart plaza on Bluffton Road. Many correctly posited that it was going to be an oil change location.

Would it be a chain or a local dipping their oil stick into the local economy? We have our answer.

Express Oil and Tire Engineers will open their second Beaufort County location on Nov. 5. Yes, you will be able to get that coveted 15-minute oil change, but the shop will offer full-service car care as well – everything from state inspections to tire rotations, new tires, brake service and transmission work. Check out their full array of service and schedule an appointment at

Tim Wood is a veteran journalist based in Bluffton. Contact him at