Do you have any favorite food places that went out of business, and you still miss them to this day ? Yeah, we do too. This week, lifelong Daytonian, the Big Ragu, takes a trip down memory lane and talk about some restaurants we still mourn to this day. Eateries that used to shine in the Dayton area, which are now gone but not forgotten. Please join us in this of recollection of past Food Adventures. Feel free to add some places of your own, by commenting below.
Here is our list of restaurants that we wish had never closed. Our “Lost Food Gems of Dayton”
JED’S STEAK AND RIBS – Remember their salad bar? Sure it had croutons that tasted like crayons, but their steak burger and ‘make your own sundae bar’ were great childhood memories and huge innovations at the time. There were many Jed’s around the Dayton area, one was located on 725 in Centerville and is now a Goodwill store. We cannot find any photos or trace of this place online, can you?
SHUCKIN’ SHACK – One of our all-time favorite places was on North Main St. in Dayton. They would bring steamed clams out in golf ball baskets. At the raw bar you could sit and eat raw oysters and clams, and throw your shells into a trough. Who could forget their massive peel and eat shrimp, or fried smelts? This was the only place in Dayton that made you fell like you were in a wharf type restaurant in Florida.
THE PEERLESS MILL– The Miamisburg Restaurant with the old fashioned, old school menu. Inside it was like a mixture of Thanksgiving and Christmas everyday. We recall the incredible decor and churning wheel waterfall. This restaurant was warm and inviting, with a trickling water wheel in the lobby. The food was fantastic, and the service was always exceptional. It was a great place for family celebrations.
KEENG WHA – This Chinese restaurant used to be on the corner of Woodman and Dorothy Lane. They served Ragu’s favorite Chinese dish of all time: “Princess Prawns.” A popular place in the 80’s until the chef left, and it was all downhill until it closed in the mid 90’s.
BILL KNAPPS – The kids meal was filled with animal names like the “tiger” or the “elephant.” The best au gratin potatoes ever were served here in a tiny crock pot with browned cheese on top. Ragu loved the clam strips dinner and their signature chocolate cake. On Tuesdays is was a full meal deal where every entree came with salad, soup and dessert. INSANE ! There was a Bill Knapps on 48 near Loop Rd. in Centerville, one by the Dayton Mall, and another near what is now The Greene.
GIRVE’S BROWN DERBY– As kids, we felt like kings in this place. They had the largest salad bar in town and you could even order a kiddie cocktail. Ragu loved the kids menu fish dinner. Adults seemed to love the “Gus’ Steak” which came out with a wooden stake saying medium, or rare with on onion ring on top. There was a bar inside and even lobster tail dinners flowed freely. We felt the Brown Derby “jumped the shark” when it moved from Bigger Rd to the 725 location by the Dayton Mall. Big mistake, we really miss this food gem.
WOODY’S GROCERY – We might say the bakery and seafood department was the best part of this West Carrollton icon. Also, we loved the deli with shaved Corned Beef and Swiss on hard rolls with poppy seeds on top. We remember a cashier named Don Baker who had hair like Elvis that never changed for years. Noone could forget the plaid dresses and bonnets worn by some of the female workers.
ELDER BEERMAN RESTAURANT – Who doesn’t love a place where you could get breakfast with Santa and the Easter bunny? Located upstairs in the Centerville store on State Route 48, our memories are also of the Friday night buffet. This was a place where the waitresses were “real” waitresses and they had the same staff for decades.
BURGER CHEF- To this day, we crave the Big Chef sandwich and their “works” bar where you could load up your burger with toppings! Remember that their regular hamburgers were stuffed into clear wrapping pouches and the steam marks would be on the plastic wrap? Bring back Burger Chef !!
CHICKEN LOUIE’S – A 24 hour chicken wing place? What a great idea ! This was a fixture on North Main Street in Dayton for over 40 years. Ragu would risk life and limb by ordering through the bullet proof glass at dusk. The related “Lou’s Broaster Hut on 3rd st had a special place in our heart.
RAX ROAST BEEF – We loved the salad bar, which hilariously offered nacho cheese next to the pudding. The menu had a star, the “BBC” (the beef bacon and cheddar) which proves the theory that bacon makes everything better. But Rax lovers know that the cheese sauce made those sandwiches. We frequented the 725 store that is now a Tim Horton’s
ROCKY ROCOCO’S PIZZA– Chunks of roma tomatoes on their pizzas, made for a unique tasting pizza that was full of flavor.
JOE BISSETT’S GRUB STEAK– The killer menu item was the Princess Steak and a salad with blue cheese crumbles on top. We also rocked the “kiddie cocktail” on North Main St, Dayton. You may recall our article on the closing of The Grub steak HERE.
COZYMEL’S – Great place for happy hours with margaritas swirling in machines above the bars. You got lots of food at a great price here. This sorely missed place was located on 725 near McEwen Rd. in Centerville and became a Smokey Bones which is also now closed.
FARRELL’S – Across from Tri-County Mall in Northern Cincinnati, this place had a ‘sundae on a stretcher.’ The staff would sing happy birthday to customers on kazoos.
LUM’S – An obscure town favorite. They had hot dogs cooked in beer. Lum’s was located where Marion’s Pizza is now, in Town and Country shopping center.
PEASANT STOCK – Who could forget the ‘Peasant salad.’ Ragu loved the atmosphere at the restaurant in the Town and Country Shopping Center. Chef David Glynn served some great food out of this establishment.
THIRSTY DOG – A great microbrewery restaurant on the corner of Alex Bell Rd and 48 in Centerville that served homemade chips in dog bowls. Ragu loved the Raspberry Light Beer, and the burgers and fish dinners were fantastic too.
HUNAN GOURMET – A long gone gem that was on 48 near Whipp Rd. We loved this place, especially their dry braised shrimp and sizzling rice soup. Some of their entrees were second to none. The building was razed about 8 years ago to build a coffee shop.
NOBLE ROMAN’S – We miss the real Noble Roman’s, not the stuff they are serving at the ‘new Noble Romans’ restaurants. The old restaurants were completely different. We miss the hand tossed pizza in the window, monster pizza, sicililan pizza and the hand rolled breadsticks with nacho cheese.
MARK PI’s CHINA GATE – The fried rice was addicting at this restaurant that was located upstairs in Town and Country shopping center. A great atmosphere for special get togethers, the decor on the glass is still there today, even though they closed in the 80’s.
ARTHUR TREACHER’S FISH & CHIPS – It was fried fish, so Ragu could live here. The Jersey Mikes on 48 in Centerville is where one of the Arthur Treacher’s used to be. We hear that some of these still exist in other states. Dear Fast Food Gods, Bring them back to Dayton ASAP, and don’t forget the vinegar.
SAMBO’S – They featured pancakes served with boysenberry syrup. This place was located at 48 near Loop Rd in Centerville until it closed in the early 80’s. It was known for their cheap prices and controversial menu caricatures. It was a weird, kid version of Denny’s on LSD. But you couldn’t deny, they had great breakfast food.
FOUR’S COMPANY – After the Arthur Treacher’s closed on 48 near Whipp Rd in Centerville, this short lived place served up giant beer battered onion rings. They were so full of beer you almost got buzzed by eating a few.
TOTENKO – This place on the corner of 725 and 741 near the Dayton Mall was like a 70′s verison of PF Changs. We learned to use chopsticks here while wearing “toughskin” pants. A great restaurant until it closed because a food critic found roaches on her plate (TRUE STORY). That critic was Ann Heller, writing one of her first reviews for the Dayton Daily News/Journal Herald. This place turned into a Chi Chi’s which has since gone out of business too.
D’AMICO and MANZAS – An Italian eatery that was a mom and pop establishment. Incredible spaghetti dishes highlighted a top notch pasta menu. This spot is now Savona Restaurant.
DOMINIC’S – The iconic location on South Main Street in Dayton whose manicotti was incredible. The real attraction here was the house salad dressing with so much garlic flavor that you breathed fire for 2 days afterward. Ask any Daytonian who was around in the 70’s/80’s, they knew the only place to go where strong garlic breath was excused.
GROUND ROUND– Throw your peanut shells on the floor. Ragu loved their all you can eat Friday night fish fry. Remember the scale at the Wilmington Pike site where the cost of a kid’s dinner was a penny for each pound they weighed?
BAJA FRESH – Do you still crave their fish tacos like we do? The now defunct Dorothy Lane and Kettering Blvd location claimed to not have refrigerators, because they served everything fresh. We were sad to see this short-lived restaurant go.
PHIL AND JERRY’S FOOD-A-RAMA – Legendary Centerville grocery that had annual anniversary parties where a hot dog and a coke were around 20 cents. In business for over 30 years, they had a great seafood section.
JOE’S IS A FISH HOUSE – This seafood spot on Loop Rd and State Rt 48 offered a one of a kind Sunday brunch that would knock your socks off. It featured smelts and steamed mussels. The restaurant was only open a couple of years, but it made an impact on us in the early 80’s.
WESTWARD HO – South Main Street cafeteria style restaurant that had drink glasses as big as your head. The food was good, the patrons were old, yet this was still a hoppin’ place. We used to visit the magic store across the street called the “Magic Hat,” after eating.
PO’ FOLKS – Fried food all over the menu, made this one of Ragu’s faves. The fried clams and fried okra were so good. The one we frequented was on the corner of Wilmington Pike and Dorothy Lane.
FAZIO’S GOLDMAN ONTARIO’s DISCOUNT FOOD STORES – This was the best place to shop with bellbottom pants in the 70’s for groceries. Good deals and wide collars were the norm at this place!
D’LITES- The first place ever to offer healthy fast food! We weren’t sure how healthy it was, but Ragu loved their burgers and smoothies at the location of 48 and Whipp Rd. Another short lived place, that we feel had great food.
CHMIELS GROCERY STORE – Now a Big Lots store in Centerville, this place had some incredible pastries. Their bakery was almost as good as Woody’s.
KETTERING VILLAGE INN – A mom and pop Italian eatery known for no frills and good food. This spot is now an “OinkadoodleMoo” restaurant on the corner of Stroop Rd and 48 . KVI had great pizza and pasta dishes. This one is really missed.
ANTONIO’s – An Italian restaurant once owned by the DiPasquale Family. When Villanova’s Basketball team would come to town in the 1980’s, legendary coach Rollie Massimino would always eat here. They had incredible ravioli dishes. Their marinara sauce was out of this world. Sweeney’s Seafood House is now located where Antonio’s operated.
KING COLE RESTAURANT – One of the most elegant dining places in Dayton at the bottom of the Kettering Tower. Known for gourmet steaks and seafood, this was a hot spot in the 70’s and 80’s.
What places do you still think about? Casa Lupita? Charley’s Crab? Tequila Willie’s? Let us know any and all of them by commenting below! Check out the photo album below for even more restaurants that are “Closed but Not Forgotten.”
What restaurants do you miss? WHO DID WE LEAVE OUT? Please comment below !
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