John Henry’s gives up food for drink

Can’t say I didn’t see it coming. Even after repeatedly offering to help them with marketing and website help, John Henry’s is giving up food service after a year.

This site had become a gathering point for people to complain about poor service- which I always tried to communicate to the owners. The old adage about a happy customer telling 3 people and a pissed off one tells 300 was the kiss of death for ol’ John Henry.

From the Dayton Daily:

Oregon District restaurant suspends food service
John Henry’s, which opened last July at 520 E. Fifth St. in the Oregon District, has suspended its restaurant food service and is operating as a bar, co-owner Chris Sassenberg said today, July 14.

“Whether we start again is up in the air at this point. The business and the property are for sale,” Sassenberg said.

The co-owner said “too much overhead and not enough volume” led to the suspension of food service and the decision to put the business and property up for sale.

I thought the bar menu was a great value compared to the main menu- with some amazing home made potato chips, but, that’s not enough to keep a place going.

Gene tipped me off on the place closing- and Drexel Dave had an idea for something a little different to go in the place. With Pacchia about to reopen for lunches- we’ve got a little going on in the Oregon District – but, this place should still be a lot more hopping than it’s been. At some point, City Hall has to work a little harder to make it easier to fill every space with places to eat, shop and hang out- no matter what the building and zoning codes say- or what the neighbors have as an unwritten set of laws about liquor permits.

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LisaDonal PhillipsMelissaRobinDavid Esrati Recent comment authors
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Ah, that explains it. We were over in the Oregon last week wanting to go eat, and decided to try the place, but they had a sign on the door saying the kitchen was closed. This was around 6:30/7:00 PM, which we thought was a bit early for the kitchen to close.

Instead we went to Pacchia. We had a very bad experience at Pacchia years ago, and never returned, but since they remodelled and had a new memu we tried it and it was pretty good, including the service which was above par for Dayton.

David Esrati
David Esrati

Pacchia has new owners as of about 4 months ago- however, the chef, Joe Fish- has carried over. He’s been in town about a year and a half – and has mad kitchen skills.
I haven’t been lately, but, I’m guessing Pacchia is in the process of reinventing itself and will re-earn its once stellar reputation.


John Henry’s is limping along until someone can buy it.
We let go of all the staff and worked all the hours ourselves. We gave up high prices, we gave up fine dining, we improved the food and service….though we didn’t get any more negative comments, nothing really worked.
Forgive me, Dave, even in the beginning we didn’t have the time or money for assistance.
We made some dumb mistakes. We tried. Those who have commented might want to take the opportunity to open up a restaurant and show everyone how it should be done! John Henry’s is for sale – in really decent shape, turnkey operation….


There is no edit or repair possibility is there?
What I meant was…those who have criticized seem harsh and unforgiving. I would love to see what they produce.
I very much appreciate the positive comments and support from you, drexel dave, steve, and others.

David Esrati
David Esrati

I know the restaurant business is tough. And I appreciated what you were trying to do.
From experience- especially when taking over a “failed location” which is what people perceive when you change the name etc- there has to be an extreme makeover- and, a great marketing effort.
I’m going to be surprised if the “Sidebar” which is opening in the building next to the Federal Building where so many have failed before- will do any better.
Thanks for trying.
I’ll still miss the chips.

The Dame
The Dame

The idea is decent: Open a happening lounge/bar/restaurant where young, hip professionals can relax and unwind after a long day at the office. Unfortunately, unless there’s a festival, downtown still remains a non-destination stop. Forget about living down there … for all the “lack-of-money-despite-my-“creative class designation” I’ve cited before. Until that problem is addressed, it’s going to be hard for the restaurant industry to thrive.

Is that the place (Sidebar) where they’re promising sushi? Ok, I’m intrigued.

David Esrati
David Esrati

sidebar= sushi (if they find a sushi chef)


I figure Sidebar is going to get the lawyers crowd, due to the courts nearby (maybe there are law offices on 2nd too, in the skyscrapers?).

David Esrati
David Esrati

The “skyscraper” is called the National City building – and this is where the sidebar is going to be. Last occupied by “Lotus, a gathering place”- and the building is chock full of lawyers.


designed by Harry Weese. Also the designer of the Formica Building in Cincy, Middeltown City Hall, the DC Metro stations, and a bunch of things in Chicago and Columbus Indiana.

Probabl¥ the best minimalist modern building downtown.

Donal Phillips
Donal Phillips

Why not instead open another never-open-for-business art gallery. This so epitomizes the SnoreAgain District.


I’m sorry the kitchen has closed. My husband and I have been several times this summer, the hanger steak was a preference, each of us only had trouble one time with getting it cooked the way it was ordered, but I think that is a good record! As an aside, the Mojitos are probably the best I’ve ever had in this area. We loved to relax there on a late Saturday afternoon. As long as the bar is open I’ll be back for a Mojito.