Pictured (from left) are Jody Harrison. Michael Harrison and Chantres Harrison


There’s something special about Daylight Donuts.

The signature glazed donuts, made fresh every morning, are (by far) the best around, and the vintage decor of the little shop provides a nostalgic stroll through the past four decades.

But what’s truly magical about the business that Michael and Janice Harrison and their son Jody have built is their connection with their customers and the Statesville community.

The Harrisons opened Daylight Donuts in 2002. Michael had recently retired after 32 years with JC Penney, and Jody was looking for a new challenge after working as a meat-cutter for Food Lion for more than a decade. Janice, who passed away in January 2021, split time between the shop and her in-home daycare business for years.

It’s hard to imagine anyone has made more donuts than Michael Harrison over the past 22 years. That number is undoubtedly in the millions.

Michael Harrison has been making donuts for more than two decades after retiring from JC Penney Co.

Five days a week Michael is in the shop way before the sun comes up making the day’s donuts — up to 200 dozen some days. There’s a lot of science involved; slight variances in air temperature and humidity can impact the recipe.

After the dough is mixed, you let it rise for a total of 50 minutes before running it through the Moline, which forms it into donuts. “If I didn’t have this thing, I’d be up the creek,” Michael said while feeding the dough into the little machine.

The pre-cooked donuts then rise in the proofer for another 30 minutes before they are dropped into the hot oil, where they are cooked until they are the perfect golden brown. After cooling a bit, they are thoroughly drenched in homemade glaze. (You do not want to know how much sugar is involved.)

What’s surprising is how few donuts Michael has eaten over the past 22 years. When he’s done working on Saturday, he packs up three donuts and takes them home to eat on his days off. “I think they’re better the next day,” he said.

Michael’s late wife Janice gets all the credit — or blame — for the assortment of collectibles in the shop. “My wife was a collector, a hoarder,” Michael explained. “She kept everything.”

He’s not kidding. Dozens of items, many of which were donated by customers, adorn the walls of the shop, the countertops and a few display cases. Among these jewels is a little sign near the donut case that reads “Lord, If I can’t be thin, make my friends fat.”

There are cardboard cutouts of John Wayne and Michael Jordan, a photo of Presidents Ford, Carter, Nixon and Reagan (with Janice’s brother Clarence, who was a flight engineer on Air Force One), a framed collectible that includes a “real” lock of Elvis Presly’s hair, and a Bill Clinton bobblehead. There’s also plenty of Carolina Panthers and NASCAR memorabilia.

To say that the Harrisons know their long-time customers is like saying they know how to make donuts.

For years loyal customers have been stopping in at the same time on the same day of the week and getting the same order. Daylight Donuts’ offerings go way beyond glazed donuts; they also have cake donuts with a variety of icing and an assortment of homemade pastries. And there’s always hot coffee.

“Jody can see a car pull in and he’ll say, ‘I need this, this and this,’ ” Michael said.

While working the front counter, Jody has gotten to know many of the regulars. He lends an ear to those dealing with medical problems and a shoulder to those who have lost a loved one or are in the midst of a divorce.

“I’m like a bartender,” he said. “I hear a lot of stuff.”

The Harrisons’ community service extends well beyond the free donuts Jody includes with most orders. They give deep discounts for school fundraisers and regularly provide dozens of donuts to the Gordon Hospice House, Fifth Street Ministries, the Special Olympics and other nonprofits.

It’s been a family affair from the beginning. Jody’s sister, Michelle, pitched in when she lived in Statesville. His wife Chantres recently started helping out, and their daughter Arwen knows her way around the dining area.

While Michael laments the time he has not spent at his beach house since he “retired,” he does not sound like a man who would change much.

“We were all together,” he said.

Daylight Donuts is located at 1849 E Broad Street in Statesville. Hours are Tuesday-Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday from 5:30 a.m. to 12 noon.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in the February edition of “IFN Monthly.”

6 thoughts on “Daylight Donuts: Much more than a donut shop

Comments are closed.