Chip Kennedy is crazy. But, so were the Wright Brothers. He thinks he can create a downtown mecca of food from all parts of the world, in a space that’s even smaller than the Oakwood Dororthy Lane Market, and do it with style.
Tomorrow, Oct. 1st, from 2 to 8, he’s teaming up with another crazy person, Chef Anne Kearney, formerly of Rue Dumaine, who will do a pop-up cash only dinner to rock your socks- while you wander around what will be “District Provisions” – a place where foodies will think they’ve died and gone to heaven and interior designers will say “damn, I wish I has his style.”
Kennedy has a vision of a place, more like Cleveland’s West Side Market than a traditional grocery, with different shops from different parts of the world- in what could only be called a curated walk through the continents. The last thing Dayton had that resembled this was the arcade, when you could still go in and buy fresh seafood, fruits, baked goods- before the City tried their hand at turning it into a mall with a fancy glass roof. The location is the old Dietz Block building, also known as the Norman Miller Furniture building at 531 Wayne Ave, behind Wheat Penney and catty-corner to Eastway. Currently, the only business operating out of there is Crafted and Cured, which has beers on tap and meats and cheeses for a charcuterie (a new hipster experience).
Next up will be the Mediterranean section, with a wood fired copper kettle of an oven, an oyster bar, a butcher shop, deli, bakery retail outlet and then produce and candy. After that, an Asian and Hispanic areas. How the mechanics of these mini-foodlands will work is still a mystery to be solved, but, the aesthetics of the place will have you falling in love.
While the grocery co-op on the near West side is still in fundraising mode, Chip has been busting his butt and using his own money to build his dream, without help from all the “economic development geniuses” we’ve got on the payroll in Dayton. They aren’t spending half-a-million to build him a parking lot, they aren’t giving him huge tax abatement or job creation credit. And that’s too bad, because the kind of business he’s creating is the kind that makes Dayton a more interesting place to “live, work, play” and keeps one of Dayton’s beautiful old buildings- in use and alive.
While District Provisions won’t be for everyone, it will be a reason to come and spend money downtown, and experience something unavailable in the ‘burbs. It also has the ability to be a place where new urbanites can meet and mingle – while engaged in shopping for necessities, something that has become harder and harder to do anywhere downtown- other than the 2nd Street Market which is only open for a smidgen of time a few days a week.
For new residents of the Wheelhouse, or the Delco Lofts, Water Street or the Charlie Simms projects, this will help remind them that their investment is safe. Access to buying food without feeling like you are in a depressed area will stop them from getting depressed (yes, Wayne Avenue Kroger is nicer, but it still has the lighting of a dollar store, and the only parking lot that could host the soapbox derby).
While I look forward to District Provisions, and even more so to the pop-up dinner tomorrow, I want to say that I don’t fall into the total trap of “there aren’t any supermarkets in Dayton” – because there are – they’re just not the suburban style ones. In my neighborhood, we have the awesome Halal International Grocery, there is Dot’s by the Kettering border that has awesome meat, you’ve got a few Hispanic markets on Troy St and E. Third, and then there are a few independent grocery stores on Gettysburg, James H. McGee, Save-a-lot’s on Wilmington, and Linden etc.
For those going to the Pop-up-
a few items from the cash only menu:
- Pernod opoached Blue Point Oysters, leeks, spinach, tarragon, AWS bacon, creme $12
- Belgian endive, Honeycrisp apple, bleu cheese, walnut salad, Banyuls vinaigrette $9
- Fire-roasted Scottish salmon, butternut squash, leek ragout, Jamestown pea shoots, parsley garlic pistou $24
- Sherry braised pork, YAYA grits, fire-roasted shiitakes $22
- Steak Frites, grilled hanger steak, pommes frites, truffle beurre, aioli $23
- Bickelcreek Farm rhubarb & raspberry crumble cake $7
Chef Anne is using as many locally grown ingredients as possible. Again- cash only.