Dining in Dayton from days gone by
By Jim Bucher
Photo: Memorabilia from the old Tropics on North Main Street
My point is, we all know something about some things. My expertise and knowledge happens to be about our area because I grew up and lived here all my life. Plus, Dayton history is a rich story that continues to amaze me.
Yes, you can teach old dogs new tricks.
So, I sorta became an expert on eating out. One reason is because my Mom was a horrible cook. Dad would say, “Your Mother wants to cook, let’s go out to eat.” No argument here.
One of the best places ever was the Goody Goody on Salem Avenue near Good Samaritan Hospital. Man, their burgers were outta this world and the special Goody Goody sauce was just awesome.
Another great place that’s just a memory and was pretty close to the GG was Anticoli’s Italian Restaurant. The spaghetti, lasagna and salad – with the house dressing – were to die for. The whole family was involved in its operation. Leo, brother Tony and sister Gloria led the family effort, with Leo in charge of the kitchen and Gloria and Tony handling the guests in the front of the house. One year, Gloria – who just recently passed away – cooked up a big pan of lasagna that she froze solid and it flew with us to California to visit my brother, who missed that special taste of home. You know, after two plane changes and some 8 hours, it was still hard as a rock.
Great memories, indeed.
Now, a short trip to North Main Street in what is now Benjamin’s Burger Master, did you ever notice how the building is shaped like a barn? Well, there’s a good reason. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s it was The Red Barn, a chain of restaurants headquartered in Springfield, Ohio. At one time, the company had 300 restaurants in 19 states and featured “The Big Barney” and “Barnbuster” hamburgers. Deeeeelicious.
Also on North Main, one of my Dad’s all-time favorite places to eat, was Georgie Rudin’s The Tropics. Every Friday night the Bucher’s spent time there with Dad ordering a vodka martini, Mom a Pink Lady and yours truly a Roy Rogers. I still wish I had the recipe for their French dressing.
At one time, this grocery-turned-nightclub/restaurant brought in big bands and every big name celebrity singer of the day – what The Tropics didn’t book, Suttmiller’s, a few blocks south, would. When you set foot in The Tropics, you would walk through a long, enclosed tunnel and once in the establishment, you felt as if you were, indeed, in the tropics. Palm trees, bamboo everywhere and Polynesian knick-knacks on the walls. Actually, when Georgie closed the restaurant, I nabbed some Tropics’ items, which I still have to this day, including the final menu, which featured a 10-ounce filet mignon for $7.95, a heavy cut prime rib of beef for the same price and a shrimp cocktail for $2.95.
Another great place, now just a memory, includes the Key Hole on Salem Avenue, home of the best doggone roasted chicken ever. Anyone out there remember Woody’s in West Carrollton, with the restaurant over the road? Everyone talks about Rike’s 5th floor dining room, The Coin Room, but my vote is for the Mezzanine with their great cheeseburgers and cafeteria-style dining. How about the Brown Derby on North Main Street, where now sits an empty lot. I remember the big fish tanks, the big booths and wonderful food. And a few doors down, who could forget The Upper Krust and their huge overstuffed sandwiches, pickle included?
Kettering Village Inn was also a hot spot on Far Hills, which Oink-A-Doodle-Moo now calls home. It had a great atmosphere and pizza, too. How about the King Cole downtown, when it was located on Second Street across from the Schuster? Dominic’s, with that killer house salad dressing that would last for days, and Duke’s Golden Ox, famous for steaks and chops, both on North Main Street across from the Montgomery County Fairgrounds and now but distant memories.
And finally, for me, because this list could go on and on, Old River, NCR’s Recreation Park. My grandfather operated the facility for 25 years and I worked there for a few summers. The Grove Picnic area with their full-service cafeteria had some of the best food ever, bar none. And the grill at the mini-golf course? Well, when that baby was fired up and those burgers were sizzlin’, nothing, I repeat, nothing was better.
Life was a little more simple back then, too. Sure was cheaper.
Hey, what did I miss? Let me hear from you. Tell me about your favorite childhood eatery or restaurant from days gone by. Just email me here at the paper. We’ll share it, maybe over a cheeseburger with some Goody Goody sauce if I can find the recipe.
The views and opinions expressed in On the Beat are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes only.
For more than 25 years, “Buch” has been a local television icon. Known and loved by thousands in the Miami Valley, his followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and a role model. When it comes to promoting your business, Buch has the ability to grab your customer’s attention. Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.