Daybreak Donuts and Sunrise Bagel Co. are Surf City’s daily wakeup call.
On Topsail Island Anne Bilderback, owner of Daybreak Donuts and Sunrise Bagel Co., has you covered for your first bite and cup of the day. Her side-by-side businesses have made themselves at home in Surf City and in the hearts and bellies of the community.
Bilderback, a retired nurse, fell in love with this style of hot, homemade donuts years ago in her home state of Maryland. She and her husband, Tom, opened a donut franchise when they moved to Topsail Island in 2015 and rebranded it as Daybreak Donuts about a year ago.
“And then after ordering their donuts, my customers would always ask if we had bagel sandwiches,” she says. “So, when the space next to mine came available, I decided to do bagels!”
The only problem was that Bilderback didn’t know how to do bagels. She had somebody teach her and then opened Sunrise Bagel Co.
The Bilderbacks’ sons, Ethan and Ben, originally helped opened the donut shop, and Bilderback’s niece, Jennifer Brown, now runs Sunrise Bagels, so it is truly a family affair.
“They started this dream with us and they got us off the ground and we just continue to grow,” Bilderback says.
The growing popularity of the two sister eateries may be because of Bilderback’s commitment to always serving the freshest food at both locations.
At Daybreak Donuts, that means dropping donuts in the fryer as they are ordered, so they’re always handed to customers hot. Before they’re boxed, the donuts are dipped in a wide variety of glazes, including banana, key lime, caramel, maple, peanut butter, mint and more. Then they are sprinkled with tons of toppings or combinations under the categories of The Originals or Surf City Selects.
Their signature donut is the simple Sandy Shore with honey glaze and cinnamon sugar, but some people like to go all out for combinations like Mint Chocolate Chip (mint glaze and mini chocolate chips) and Bacon Bomb (maple glaze, bacon and cinnamon sugar), to name a few. And they have monthly specials.
At Sunrise Bagel Co., they fresh-bake more than a dozen bagel flavors served with an assortment of cream cheeses and handcraft breakfast sandwich creations, such as the Shoreline (bacon, egg, pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, cream cheese and a layer of tots), the Snoogie (lox, capers, cream cheese, tomato and onion) and more.
Bilderback is preparing for the busy season to ramp up again in the spring. She always hires a staff of 40 to 45 people to be fully prepared by summertime to properly cater to the crowds.
“They’re mostly young people and they are what power us,” she says. “It’s so great because not only do the young people learn responsibility but we’ve cultivated great friendships from this. Many of them come back every year. Some of my employees started at 15 years old and they’re now juniors in college and they still come back and work here, which is so awesome.”
Bilderback’s career segue may not seem obvious right away, shifting from helping patients as a trauma nurse to feeding people, but it seems a natural fit to her.
“It’s so rewarding for me because we’re such a big part of the community,” she says. “We get to reach out and touch people in a bigger way, a different way, than I ever did in nursing. We’re offering young people opportunities to grow and to be a part of a family business.”
Bilderback supports local nonprofits any chance she gets, such as Ocean Fest, Toys for Tots, Adoption First Animal Rescue, Paddle 4 Troops, Surf to Sound (benefiting the local sea turtle hospital), Surf City police and fire departments, Little Pink Houses of Hope, Topsail High School and Dixon High School Athletics and Share the Table’s Dolphin Dip.
“The support is happening in the community at different levels with different people, and I feel gratitude that I get to be here on this island and be a part of this,” she says. “I just want to be deeply embedded in the community and want people to know that they come in and we support whatever they do.”
Want to go?
Daybreak Donuts and Sunrise Bagel Co.
303 S. Topsail Drive, Surf City
Daybreak Donuts hours: daily, 7 am to 3 pm
Sunrise Bagel Co. hours: daily, 7 am to 2 pm
Photography by Bill Ritenour