The real reason Mondays suck in Dayton

Unlike most of you working stiffs- I look forward to going to work every Monday.

What I don’t like is how a bunch of my favorite spots are closed today.

Can’t stop in to Twist Cupcakery to sugar up the troops.

Can’t go to Old Scratch Pizza, Linh’s Bistro, Texas Beef and Cattle, or grab dinner at Corner Kitchen or Roost Italian for eats.

However, when it comes to food, the probable cause is because you can get Buy One Get One pizza from Dayton’s Original Pizza Factory for pick-up on Mondays. Who can compete with that?

My picks? Classic Italian- a white pizza, or the Buffalo Chicken Bacon Ranch, but, he’s got lots of others.

Still doesn’t solve my Cupcake addiction, but, I hear there’s a new doughnut place on Brown Street that I should check out.

What else is closed on Monday that you really wish wasn’t? Has to be independent, locally owned.

 

 

 

My new favorite places to eat in Dayton

I’m still lamenting the loss of “Olive Dive” on the corner of Wayne and E. Third Street almost a year after they said adieu. Yes, the prices kept going up, but it was Dayton’s first and best farm-to-table restaurant.

But, no worries, two other Olive’s have popped up (the Green Olive at the Traffic Circle is now closed – Feb 2017) . Both on the same street- but only one that I’ve tried. Olive Mediterranean Grill is on North Dixie just north of Needmore, just before the drive in. It’s run by two brothers who work long hours and cook up some amazing middle Eastern food. It’s open late most nights, till 1:00 am,  now 11am to 11pm Mon-Sat and 3pm to 10pm on Sunday (updated Feb 2017) and you can easily get dinner under $15. They’re Muslims, so no alcohol, and occasionally, they’ll let people smoke a hooka in the dining room- which ticks me off no end, but the kufta is the bomb. For those of you who don’t know what kufta is- it’s a seasoned ground beef kabab. Their kibbe is also amazing- but, more times than not, they are out of it. The place isn’t somewhere you want to take a date for a romantic supper- it’s a former Milano’s- but if you just want good food, friendly service and not spend too much- head on over.

Olive Mediterranean Grill 6129 N Dixie Dr Dayton, OH (937) 264-1455
The Texas Beef and Cattle Company is open in Wright Dunbar. It’s run by my friend James Nunez, a Navy Veteran and proud Texan. I’ve been eating James’ slow-cooked meats for years and if you are looking for some brisket or pulled pork, you’ve come to the right place.
You’ll spend about the same amount as you would at Olive for dinner- but you’ll recognize everything on the menu. They are still working out the kinks since they just opened up, but I had a sample plate of brisket, sausage and pulled pork the other day and all three were amazing. They are open till 10pm.
Texas Beef and Cattle Company 1105 W 3rd St, Dayton, OH 45402 (937) 344-4376 no website, but you can find them on Facebook, where they have a ton of likes. Parking is easy, and they have a nice little fenced in patio on Williams street- and I’m assuming a liquor license is coming soon.
Going upscale, which isn’t something I’m doing a lot of right now- Chef Dana Downs, has finally put something in the old Lincoln Park Grille space worth going to. Park City Club (Feb 17- renaming to Roost American) is a cross between a private club menu and comfort food with panache. You’ll pay double what you’ll pay at either of the above places, but this is somewhere to take a date, especially before you have tickets to a show at the Fraze. Full disclosure, my firm, The Next Wave, did their website and some of their printing, but, I wouldn’t recommend a place I don’t like- it’s not the way I roll. The last few times I’ve been, I’ve seen at least 4 people I know at tables less than 20 feet from me, go figure. Reservations are recommended, or you may have a long wait.
Park City Club, 580 Lincoln Park Blvd, Ste. 105 Kettering, OH 45429 937.949.3048
My other go to places are still Linh’s Bistro, Ginger and Spice, Quincy’s, CJ Chan’s, Sushi Cafe, The Pine Club, Coco’s Bistro, Carmen’s Deli, Chicago Gyro’s and Dogs, Pizza Factory and South Park Tavern, Charlies Imports, Pasha Grill,  The Corner Kitchen and Taqueria Mixteca.

Grandstanding in Dayton, and Travel Bans

There’s never a missed opportunity for our half-a-million dollar Mayor, Nan Whaley, to grandstand. Be it accepting refugees that aren’t coming, or banning travel to North Carolina and Mississippi over stupid legislation against the LGBT community. If there’s a front page story to be made out of making a proclamation or an informal resolution- she’s on top of it.

But, let’s talk about a local travel ban that the city created and now can’t find the “$35,000” it will cost to fix- and the costs the city’s lack of foresight cost a small local independent business.

For decades, 865 N. Main Street was the place to get fried chicken in Downtown Dayton. Chicken Louie’s was an institution. When Lou fell into poor health, the restaurant closed. Because the city of Dayton can’t keep a building safe from scrappers, the building quickly became a very expensive prospect to reopen. Plus, the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on I-75 through Downtown, were also taking their toll on businesses near the construction.

In November of 2014, a business that had begun on W. Third Street, rose to the challenge to bring fried chicken back to N. Main. Plans, permits, inspections, and almost 18 months later, they soft-opened this week. No big grants from the city, no tax abatements, no tax credits- a legitimate, small business opened back up in the old Chicken Louie’s- welcome back to Quincy’s. (Full disclosure- I do the advertising for them- and, they didn’t ask me to write this article).

Only one slight problem, when the city bulldozed a whole bunch of apartment buildings and built a brand new Great Miami Boulevard- they cut off the second entrance to the parking lot. Yep- made a little stub of a driveway- but, no access from the boulevard, only from N. Main, right at the light- making left turns into the lot a mess.

The city, which bought a building on Wayne Avenue for $450,000 and then sold it to a developer from out of town, and gifted them Garden Station as a bonus- can’t find $35,000 to replace the apron and access that they “improved” off the map. Here’s an aerial view courtesy of Google Maps- the yellow area is where a driveway should be- but now has curbs, grass and trees planted.

Aerial view of Quincy's Parking lot

Can Dayton put a driveway back in please?

This is similar to what they did to the old Wympee on E. Third street- when Olive Dive went to turn on their gas main- it turns out that the city had cut the gas line when replacing sidewalks- and was going to try to stick the tenant with the bill.

How 25 feet of concrete or asphalt becomes a $35,000 expense is beyond me. Why the curbs and access hadn’t been worked out and replaced well before the opening is also beyond me. But, I guess real “Economic Development” and a commitment to local small, independent business doesn’t make either the headlines- or, Miss Nan would have taken care of fixing this mistake already.

When people talk about being “business friendly” – it’s about a government that takes care of things like this and thanks the small business for bringing a building back to life. If I were mayor- this kind of bullshit would never fly, and I’d have rented a Bobcat and cleared the path myself, before they opened if I couldn’t get the city to act. A load or two of gravel over what I cleared would be a better start than leaving it as is.

Considering the only thing Nan has proven herself good at is making holes like the one on Ludlow where the perfectly usable Schwind and Dayton Daily News building were- she should be able to get a bulldozer over to Quincy’s on Monday and get this problem taken care of, $35,000 or not.

It’s a tiny investment compared to the value that having this building back in use pays back to the city.

In the meantime- go get yourself some chicken and fish, and be super careful entering and exiting the parking lot.

Ginger and Spice- oh so nice

No this isn’t a post about a British girl band. It’s an overdue review/recommendation of the little Chinese restaurant, Ginger and Spice,  that opened on Brown Street back in January.

It’s squeezed in between Subway and Hot Head Burritos- in the little strip built by JZ Properties- when we already thought we had enough choices. It has had a bunch of places go in and close. Tropical smoothie, DQ/Orange Julius, etc. When I saw it was going to have an Asian place I was wondering how they were going to fit it all in. The answer: tightly.

Beijing Pork from Ginger and Spice in Dayton Ohio

Beijing Pork from Ginger and Spice

The food is wonderful. The Beijing Pork, the first time I had it- was one of the best Chinese dishes I’d ever had- unfortunately, it’s never been quite the same- but- still good. Their menu description:

Lightly breaded and fried pork loin, layered with delicious sauce crafted from pineapples and tangerine rinds.

Ginger and spice wontons from Ginger and Spice in Dayton

Ginger and Spice wontons

Another favorite is the Ginger & Spice Wontons – which have a bit of a kick – again their description:

Handmade wontons stuffed with ground pork, seasoned with our mild spicy house special sauce.

They say they source a lot of their ingredients locally- and try to stay with organic/gmo/hormone-free sources. It may be part of the reason they’ve had two one dollar price increases since they opened. At one point, I had an email with a list of their local providers, but I can’t find it now. Their website doesn’t list them.

Quincy’s Fish moving downtown

full disclosure- my firm The Next Wave does work for Quincy’s fish- they had zero editorial input on this.

Heard it here first folks- Quincy’s Fish is moving from W. Third to the old Lou’s Broaster hut location at 865 N. Main St. It’s a blow to the West Side- but a boon to the lower Riverdale area and Downtown. Should be open by Dec. 1, 2014.

This isn’t a ding on opening business on the West Side- it’s a ding on our crappy system of recording deeds, collecting taxes and protecting vacant buildings in Dayton. It’s also good reason to hire a title company even when signing a lease on a distressed building in Dayton, especially if your landlord is a known felon.

Photo from Google Maps of corner of W. Third And Alder where Quincy's transformed an abandoned building

Before Quincy’s

The building, which at one time was a bank and then a Pizza Hut – and lastly “Charlies Angels” had sat vacant for a few years. The claimed owner was Mark Donelson, of Donelson Investments. Former husband of Scherrie McLin, daughter of former political power broker CJ McLin and sister of former Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin- who is now in prison for mishandling pre-paid funeral money in the family funeral home.

Donelson had moved the title into numerous persons’ names during his incarceration and apparently had never actually set up the Nevada corporation, the Donelson Trust of Nevada, to which he had last transferred the title. The owner of Quincy’s found this out- after they had been taken to court over failure to pay rent. Rent payments had been going into escrow, over the lack of an air conditioner, until the matter was settled- which is when the question of rightful, legal ownership surfaced. All of the money in escrow, ended up reverting to the owner of Quincy’s since the judge couldn’t determine ownership of the building. [updated Mar 19, 2015 after receiving a phone call threat from Mr. Donelson]

Despite months of sweat equity and investment into transforming the eyesore back into a going concern, the lack of legal standing of the “owner” of the building made any chance of stability in that location seem elusive.

Enter the old “Lou’s Broaster Hut” or “Chicken Louies” at 865 N. Main Street. Another building that has been adversely affected by failures of our city to protect investors’ investments. First was the closing of the highway access to N. Main street and construction. Then the break-ins through the roof and the theft of metal. Another abandoned restaurant, another reclamation project.

The abysmal record of the Dayton Police in solving crimes by drug seeking junkies who rely on pennies on the dollar for recovered scrap from viable buildings is good reason to pay attention to the County Commission race- where former Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell is proposing an idea that’s been tested in Europe- giving the worst offending heroin addicts the drug in a controlled environment so as to keep them from causing millions of dollars of damage for scrap.

With the experience on Third Street behind them- the owners of Quincy’s think they can turn the old “White Tower” building around in 30 days and be open for business by Dec. 1, 2014.

In the meantime, the question of the ownership of the W. Third Street building will just be another case of failure of our system of recording deeds and titles. Our current “system”  came along with the relaxation of rules which allowed for the resale of mortgages without physical transfer of deeds- which was in part what led to the financial crisis and housing collapse of 2009. It’s time to stop this malarkey of  digital deed transfers and shell corporations that haven’t been fully vetted. It’s also time to impose penalties on those organizations- be it banks, or shell corps, who hold these buildings without taking care of them. In the end- they cost all of us.