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Meet Dayton’s very own Santa Claus

Published: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Dayton’s very own John Kern is Santa Claus. Aside from doing countless private parties for sick children unable to visit Santa at the mall and other gatherings of more than 45 children at a time, Kern has been the star of the Dayton Holiday Festival for the past 12 years.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Dayton’s very own John Kern is Santa Claus. Aside from doing countless private parties for sick children unable to visit Santa at the mall and other gatherings of more than 45 children at a time, Kern has been the star of the Dayton Holiday Festival for the past 12 years.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

It seems there’s never a shortage of people from Dayton who are out there doing great things. However, there’s one very special person in particular who is Dayton born and raised, especially important this time of year, and yet most people probably have no idea he’s living right here among us. 

>> Meet Mark DaGrossa, another Dayton Santa Claus

That’s right: the North Pole’s resident number one is actually a huge University of Dayton Flyer fan who graduated in 1970 from Chaminade Julienne High School, and he drove a Greater Dayton RTA bus for 16 years.

Dayton’s very own John Kern is Santa Claus. Aside from doing countless private parties for sick children unable to visit Santa at the mall and other gatherings of more than 45 children at a time, Kern has been the star of the Dayton Holiday Festival for the past 12 years.  

>> The Gift of Spirits: A dozen boozy bottles for the days before and after Christmas

When was the first time that you thought you might want to be Santa?

When I was going to Our Lady of the Rosary, in my late 20’s, early 30’s. I was involved over there in the parish. They had a Christmas bazaar and they asked me to be a Santa Claus over there and they had their own suit and everything. I got to do it more every year or so and then I said, “Hmm. This may be a good thing to start.” So I went and got a couple suits and here I am!

>> DAYTON GIFTS: 5 foodie gifts you can get before Christmas

Dayton’s very own John Kern is Santa Claus. Aside from doing countless private parties for sick children unable to visit Santa at the mall and other gatherings of more than 45 children at a time, Kern has been the star of the Dayton Holiday Festival for the past 12 years.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Where do you get your very own Santa suit? 

I bought the two that I have in Huber Heights -- the place is out of business now. Then I was going to Act One costumes to buy some beards, and I went to Foy’s in Fairborn and bought some supplies over there.

What has kept you putting on the big red suit year after year? 

Oh, it was just a joy of bringing smiles to the kids’ faces and the parents really liked it. They were able to take their own pictures. Especially if they’re premature -- the parents don’t want to take them to where there’s a lot of germs around and a lot of kids with colds. So you know, they’ll give me a call and have me come do a visit for them … those kids still receive the joy of Santa Claus, and didn’t have to go to a mall.

>> DAYTON GIFTS: Best ticket gifts for the holidays

As Santa, you have to be holly and jolly all the time. Is there anything you do to get yourself in the spirit before an event? 

Yeah I just go ahead and get in a good mood -- I have a set of bells that I ring and give my ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ and that usually gets people in the mood.

Do you think you’ve perfected your “ho, ho, ho”?

Oh yeah, I think I’ve got it down pretty good. A lot of people will say, “let’s see your ho, ho, ho!”

Have you had any children recognize you in public when you’re not in your suit?

Well I drive an RTA bus here in town, and I’ve had people say, “Boy, you’d make a good Santa Claus,” and I say, “Well in fact, that’s what I do.” Last year my picture was on the side of the bus for a promotion they did. 

>> DAYTON GIFTS: Give the gift of chocolate this holiday season

What’s the most unsuspected thing a child has asked you for Christmas? 

They ask for a lot of different things. I’ve had some of them ask for world peace. I say, “Yeah that would be great for everybody. Santa would surely like that, to see everybody get along and everything.”

I also stress the importance to them of also, Christmas is the day when Jesus was born and that’s the real meaning of Christmas. The real meaning of Christmas is us giving to people -- it’s good to give better than to receive, because giving comes from the heart and shows love. 

>> Kettering native and reality TV star Rob Dyrdek’s baby wins Christmas with this photo

Is there any one interaction with a child that really sticks out to you?

A lot of them have the Elf on the Shelves and I say, “Remember they let me know what’s going on!”

So I’ll tell them they best be on their best behavior all the time...not only this time of year, but all year round.

How does it feel to have a child look up to you and see the awe in their eyes of being face to face with Santa? 

It really is a good feeling because you just say, “My golly, they really do believe.” It’s just a great feeling that’s all. 

>> PHOTOS: Breakfast with Santa at Scene75

Why is Dayton special to you?

It’s just a good town. I’ve been a UD Flyer fan ever since I can remember. My sister used to work at the old UD fieldhouse working concessions, so that goes back many years. I’ve been a Flyer fan since almost 5 years old -- since 1957. I currently hold season tickets at the University of Dayton Arena. I’ve held them since 1971. Every year. 

Know someone who should be featured as our Daytonian of the Week? Let us know! To nominate, drop us a line at with their name, contact info and how they make Dayton great.

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Allison Janney: “Dayton spawns great people” 

Published: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Friday, March 02, 2018 @ 11:03 AM

If Allison Janney wins the Oscar for her role in “I, Tonya” she will be the first Daytonian to win this one of the top acting prizes. Video by Amelia Robinson

Decades after leaving Dayton for New York, the thought of Ashley’s Pastry Shop’s sand tart and pizza from The Flying Pizza conjure up happy memories for one of Hollywood’s most respected leading ladies.  

“I used to go there all the time right before I went to the Dayton Ballet (in downtown Dayton),” seven-time Emmy winner Allison Janney told us in a phone interview. “I would get on the bus from Miami Valley School and get my Sicilian slice and then go to ballet class.”  

>> Oakwood-raised actress up for her first Oscar

Actress Allison Janney poses atop her new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame during a ceremony on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)(Staff Writer)

The Oakwood-raised movie and television star joined a long list of Dayton innovators when she was inducted into the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame on Sept. 28, 2018, at Sinclair Community College in downtown Dayton.  

>> Meet the 2017 Dayton Walk of Fame inductees

Her class includes Oscar Boonshoft and Marjorie Boonshoft; Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis Sr.; Cathy Guisewite; David L. Hobson and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh.  

CBS star Allison Janney was inducted into the Dayton Region's Walk of Fame. Video by Amelia Robinson

The star of CBS’ “Mom” told us she is excited to join the distinguished list of entertainers and other luminaries already on the walk.  

Stones honoring inductees are on West Third Street in the Wright Dunbar Historic Business District between Broadway and Shannon and along Williams Street.  

“I am proud to be from Dayton,” she said. “I am really happy that I will be forever part of Dayton on the Walk of Fame and at the Miami Valley School, where I started my whole education and I learned about theater.”

Janney was featured as our Daytonian of the Week on Sept. 27, 2018.

>> Get to know these Daytonians making a difference

In this March 29, 2017 photo, Allison Janney poses for a portrait in New York. Janney, who won Emmy Awards for her work in “The West Wing” and “Mom,” is starring in a Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)(Brian Ach/Brian Ach/Invision/AP)


Janney, still a supporter of Miami Valley School in Washington Twp., recalled her first job as a bus girl at the former Holland House restaurant. 

She later sold handbags and hosiery at now-closed Rike’s department store in downtown Dayton. 

Her first role on stage was Noah Claypole in “Oliver Twist” at Miami Valley School, where she started honing her singing voice.

>> Star sightings in Dayton

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Allison Janney attends the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)(Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

She left the school after her ninth-grade year to attend boarding school at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut.  

A star of the black “dramedy” “I, Tonya” about figure skater Tonya Harding, Janney suffered a serious leg injury at a high school party in Oakwood after high school graduation.

Party-goers were planning a balloon game…  

“Someone stepped on the back of my dress and it ripped, and I was afraid I was going to expose myself in front of the whole party so I ran inside and hit the plate glass,” the once aspiring figure skater remembered. 

 Janney was forced to take a year off between high school and college as a result of her injury. 

 She said there was a positive though. 

 “It was a horrible accident, but I got to be at home for another year,” she said. “When you are going to college, you don’t think about the fact that you are never going to be home again. I got to appreciate being at home and being taken care of by my mom and dad.” 

The graduate of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, said she doesn’t get home to Dayton often, but loves it when she does. 

 “My mom and dad are still there,” she said during a phone call. “My mom is in charge of my social calendar.” 

She called Macy Janney, an actress herself, the best mother on the planet and a force of nature “in the Dayton community, and especially the arts.” 

 “She has a lot of great friends in Dayton, and I have a lot of friends in Dayton,” she said.

As for Dayton food?

“Just in terms of eating, I like to go to The Pine Club, and I love to go to The Moraine (Country) Club with my mom and dad, and I love to go to Ashley’s pastries and get my sand tarts.” 

Oakwood-raised actress Allison Janney strikes a pre-Oscar pose with her favorite cookies -- the now world-famous Sand Tarts from Ashley's Pastry. Janney sent this photo to the Oakwood bakery. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY THERESA HAMMONS, ASHLEY'S PASTRY SHOP

Ashley’s Pastry Shop in Oakwood offers a wide variety of traditional and specialty pastries, pies and other treats.

>> The Dayton cookies that are SOOOOOOOO good Allison Janney has them shipped to her on set

Ashley's Pastry Shop in Oakwood offers a wide variety of traditional and specialty pastries, pies and other treats.


Janney often treats her crew on “Mom” to her favorite Ashley’s cookies. 

“For a while, they thought that I had baked them. I say ‘no, they are from my favorite bakery in Dayton, Ohio,’ ” she said. “They are absolutely delicious. They are like a delicious snickerdoodle with a meringue on top. They are soft and moist and chewy and so good. My mother used to have them in the house when I was growing up. They remind me of my childhood.”

>> Meet the woman behind one of Dayton’s most beloved bakeries

Ashley's Pastry Shop makes sand tarts, a favorite of actress Allison Janney.(Amelia Robinson)


Janney, one of three children born to Macy and Jervis Janney, said she was privileged to grow up with a strong mother and was inspired watching people like Faye Wattleton, the former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. 

 Wattleton started working for reproductive rights in Dayton and eventually became the president of Planned Parenthood. 

 “I watched some pretty great women,” she said. 

 She urges Dayton-area residents to let politicians hear their voices. 

 These days, Janney is using her celebrity partly to draw attention to the opioid addiction epidemic. 

 She said she is honored to be on a show whose characters are battling addiction. 

 She has spoken publicly about her brother Henry “Hal” Janney. He died of suicide in 2011 after struggling with addiction for much of his life. 

Janney and Anna Faris, her “Mom” co-star, partnered with former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy for an addiction campaign.  

She and “Mom” co-creator Chuck Lorre were part of a roundtable with the surgeon general last year.

>> Actors you should know who have Dayton ties


The Emmy-winner and Tony and Golden Globe award nominated actress said she loves meeting fellow Buckeyes. 

“We are salt of the Earth. We are the people who are grounded and know what’s important about life and know that treating people with respect and kindness (is important),” she said. “I’ve always felt that the people I’ve met from Dayton are great people.” 

 Janney said she was blown away to work with fellow Daytonians Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe on “The West Wing.” Janney played Dayton native C.J. Cregg.  

The fact that I would go and work on my first big television show with two other people from Dayton, Ohio is just crazy, she said. “It is lightning in the bottle,” she said. “Dayton spawns great people.”  

Janney said she knows where she will put her Dayton Walk of Fame plaque — right next to her Emmys and Screen Actors Guild awards and other honors. 



Her long list of films includes roles in “The Help,” “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” “Hairspray,” “American Beauty,” “The Girl on the Train,” “The Hours,” “Finding Nemo,” “Big Night” and “Juno.” 

 Roles didn’t always come easily to Janney, who is 6 feet tall. 

 “I think I just had to be persistent because of my height,” she said. “I didn’t really start working until I was 38. I had to wait and for a long time. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I wasn’t really getting paid a lot of money to act, and my family was really generous and helped me stay afloat. I am so grateful now that I can return the favor.” 

>> Oakwood-raised Oscar nominee featured in Forbes, New York Times and more

Allison Janney reflects on changing attitudes in the industry

 Janney said she hopes that her hometown can continue to revitalize itself. 

 “I am hoping it can grow back up to a vital city with great arts and education and sports,” she said. “I just love seeing that new riverfront area down there. It is gorgeous. It would be great to see (Dayton) be a destination for people to want to come and live.”

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Meet the unofficial ‘Mayor of Fifth Street’

Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 @ 5:00 PM

Daytonian of the Week Andy Rowe in front of a Siegfried and Roy statue in Las Vegas?
Photo: Courtesy of Andy Rowe
Daytonian of the Week Andy Rowe in front of a Siegfried and Roy statue in Las Vegas?(Photo: Courtesy of Andy Rowe)

His name may have never appeared on a ballot certified by the Montgomery County Board of Election, but  Andy Rowe, the bearded assistant manager of Blind Bob’s in the Oregon District, could certainly make a case for claiming the title “Mayor of Fifth Street.” 

Below we catch up with Andy, a key organizer of a bingo night at Bob’s in support of employees impacted by the recent fire at Salar Restaurant and Lounge, and who was crowned Daytonian of the Week from January 31 to February 7 . 

>> How this Oregon District business raised $2K for its neighbors damaged by fire

The father of three said he organized the Salar fund-raiser because it was the Oregon District thing to do. 

“When Blind Bob's opened 10 years ago,  I was surprised that instead of being adversarial and territorial, all the neighboring restaurants and bars were amazingly supportive, and I wanted to pay that forward,” he told us. 

>> 10 reasons we love the Oregon District, and why you should, too

Daytonian of the Week Andy Rowe with two of his daughter and son, Scarlett, and Gabriel, 4. His stepdaughter, Zora, is 15 years old.(Photo: Courtesy of Andy Rowe)

Q) What do you do and how did you get involved in it? 


A) I have been the assistant general manager at Blind Bob's since we opened in August of 2008. My close friend Nate approached me about managing a bar his family was looking at opening, and I was enthralled with the opportunity to build something focused on providing things I love (good food, good beer and local music). I was also elected to the non-profit Oregon District Business Association board in July 2016 and have served as its secretary since January 2017. 


Q) What is your hidden talent? 


 A) Sleeping in. I've also been quietly teaching myself programming. Initially this was so I could make video games, but it actually led me toward my fascination with Bitcoin, which I've been obsessed with since 2013. 


Q) What do you love about life in Dayton? 


Andy Rowe and a friend Velentino Halton at Blind Bob's in the Oregon District.(Photo: Courtesy of Andy Rowe)

 A) Dayton is just small enough that most people are polite enough to still say hello to a stranger (when I'm in big cities it seems like nobody acknowledges people they don't know, even avoiding eye contact), yet Dayton is just big enough that there's always something new to discover, explore and do. 


Q) What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton? 


Daytonian of the Week Andy Rowe with his fiance, Eden Birnaum.(Photo: Courtesy of Andy Rowe)

A) In 2013 I took the love of my life, Eden, on our first date for tacos at Taqueria Mixteca, then we checked out the planetarium at Boonshoft, and finally we had coffee at Ghostlight. Actually she drove so I guess she took me? Either way she was putty in my hands after that day. 

 >> ON THE MENU: A burrito to end all burritos at Taqueria Mixteca

>> Dayton museum director stepping down 

Q) What makes the Oregon District a unique place? 


 A) Its history is pretty amazing. A lot of the buildings are quite old with more than a couple having been built in the late 19th century. Fifth Street was primarily a rail hub adjacent to the canal, and you can still see clues in areas around Fifth Street of the tracks that ran under where there's now roadway. I don't think it's coincidence that a few local business names allude to trains and trolleys either (Oregon ExpressTrolley Stop). Presumably the railroad connected to tracks that would bring you out to the state of Oregon. The story of the neighborhood pulling together decades later to restore and preserve the district is inspiring. I was raised in East Dayton and got to see a bit of the tail end of the neighborhood's resurgence. I have fond memories from my youth visiting my uncle Butch, who tended bar at the American Saloon which operated where Lucky's Taproom is now. Butch lived above the saloon and had a huge pot-bellied pig. Also noteworthy when it comes to the pronunciation of Oregon is here many usually pronounce it ore-uh-GONE, while folks in the state of Oregon I'm told cringe unless you pronounce it more like AURA-gun. 

>> What are the oldest bars in downtown Dayton?

Q) What should people know about Daytonians? 


Daytonian of the Week Andy Rowe with his fiance, Eden Birnaum.(Photo: Courtesy of Andy Rowe)

A) Daytonians really are inventive. People know we invented airplanes (even if Kittyhawk has yet to get memo), but few realize how prolific Dayton is when it comes to the density of patents and the creation of new intellectual property. Search engines, pop- top cans, cash registers, digital scales, ice cube trays, chrome plating, artificial hearts and kidneys, microfiche, black lights, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Describing the music that comes from Dayton as inventive too would be pretty accurate. 


Q) What inspires you about Dayton? 

Daytonian of the Week Andy Rowe.(Photo: Courtesy of Andy Rowe)


A) People from Dayton are determined. Dayton's teachers, artists and business owners are all stubborn and in the best way. It's evident in the people who never give up in the face of the continuous challenges the city seems to be constantly presented with, and that stubbornness is a sign of our strength. 

 >> Daytonians you are going to want to know 

Q) What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years? 


A) I am optimistic Dayton will grow, continuing to invent and reinvent itself. It is my hope that city leaders will take a proactive approach to embracing the future. Increasing access to information by making a real commitment to bringing broadband access to the entire city would say to the world that Dayton really is a tech town. Embracing and exploring technology like Bitcoin Cash would put the city at the front of what's being made possible via open-source, programmable money. Lastly, and perhaps most important, a renewed and serious commitment to the education of Dayton's youth is needed. Teaching every student about our local history and being honest about the effects that the 1913 flood and desegregation had on Dayton and the surrounding communities is an important tool needed to help people understand and truly begin to undo the city's legacy of racial tension, which we all should agree belongs exclusively in our past. 

>>  Currency of the future? Some argue it’s bitcoin

Daytonian of the Week Andy Rowe.(Photo: Courtesy of Andy Rowe)

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Daytonian of the Week: Meet that fireball Rachel Jensen

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 10:26 AM

Daytonian of the Week Rachel Jansen with Jerid Martel and his partner Matt Ross. The couple owns  MJ's on Jefferson,
Daytonian of the Week Rachel Jansen with Jerid Martel and his partner Matt Ross. The couple owns MJ's on Jefferson,(Submitted)

Blink and you might just miss this Fireball-selling fire cracker.

Rachel Jensen seemingly spreads unicat dust, goodwill  and alcoholic cheer wherever she goes.  

 >> Live music events in and around Dayton in 2018

We caught her just long enough to crown her the latest Daytonian of the Week. 

Why are you a crazy cat lady? 

Because cat noses are the cutest, cat paws are the softest and cat cuddles are the bestEST. 

Daytonian of the Week Rachel Jansen. She fought in Dayton Fight Night.(Photo: submitted)

What are you passionate about in Dayton? 

Charity. I am a huge fan of The Dayton Art Institute’s Art Ball and Bourbon and Bubbles, as well as Dayton History’s Dayton Fight Night. Dayton has a very charitable heart. If someone is sick or a business has an unforeseen disaster, the rest of the community does everything in their power to bring them back up. 

 >> Origami art reaches a whole new level in this Dayton exhibit

Daytonian of the Week Rachel Jansen. She is pictured with her son.(Submitted)

Where do you go for a great time? 

Lately, Gem City Catfe. They make an amazing Cinnamon Honey Latte and house 12 adorable adoptable kitties. Also, cat people are friendly people. So if you go alone you'll make new furry friends and meet new people friends. 

 >> Here’s how you can visit the cats at Gem City Catfé

What would you change about Dayton? 

Year-round patio weather, please. Several Dayton restaurants and bars have the best patios in the Midwest. And I would love for someone to bring the First Four Festival back.  

What should people know about Dayton? 

Dayton is a big warm, fuzzy and friendly mix of everything. 

The Flyer and Raider support is legit. 

The LGBT Community shines. 

 >> 8 reasons to take PRIDE in Dayton’s LGBT community

There’s a great selection of arcades with bars. You can release your inner child again with a cocktail in hand. My favorites are Hole in the WallDK Effect and Canal Street Arcade and Deli.

>> 5 sandwiches you have to try at Canal Street Arcade and Deli

>> 6 amazing women behind some of Dayton’s best food

This town has a strong presence of female chefs. These women aren’t afraid to create some of the most inventive dishes in the tri state. 

What’s your favorite Dayton hidden gem? 

Air City Wine and Liquor. This is where Century BarLily's BistroCanal Street Deli and Arcade and Basil's on Market purchase their liquor from. They have an extraordinary selection of scotch, bourbon, whiskey & unique spirits (like Fernet Branca Menta -- a Lily's favorite). You will not be able to go there and get a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, but you will be able to find the knowledge and guidance you need from owners Adam Boyd and Chris Anders. These guys are top-notch when it comes to customer service and conversation about a good bottle of whiskey. After a few visits you will consider them your friends. 

Daytonian of the Week Rachel Jansen. She is pictured with Brad Darrell.(Photo: submitted)

Why did you decide to settle in Dayton? 

Dayton has a small-town friendly feel but big city ideas and culture. There's always plenty to do without breaking the bank. The people you meet here are kind and genuine. This is a very sincere community full of huggers and friends.  

>> 12 top hiking trails in Dayton and nearby

How did you get involved in your line of work? 

I got the bug in my early 20s at Uno's in Downtown Dayton. I went from being a Theatre Major to a restaurant manager quickly. I loved the chaos and excitement of the business. I moved onto managing at Brio Tuscan Grille and then to a bar manager position at Vue Ultra Lounge. 
While bartending at Vue I became passionate about creating cocktails and learning about various spirits. I loved bartending there, but having a young son made me want to strive for more consistent hours and weekends free to be a mom. I then decided to apply for the job I have now and I love it.

>>  Upscale local nightclub shuts down after more than 13 years

Daytonian of the Week Rachel Jansen.  She is pictured at a Dublin Pub’s St. Patrick’s Day bash. (Photo: submitted)


Daytonian of the Week Rachel Jansen. She is pictured with El Meson co-owner Bill Castro.(Photo: submitted)

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Meet the woman behind one of Dayton’s most beloved bakeries

Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Dayton’s top 3 pick for Best of Dayton 2017 ‘Best Bakery’ category.

In 1982, Theresa Hammons was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with her first daughter, Ashley, when she and her husband Greg opened Ashley’s Pastry Shop in Oakwood.

Nestled in a building that has housed one bakery or another for more than 90 years, Ashley’s has been a household name in Dayton for generations when it comes to doughnuts, cakes, cookies and other fresh pastries. 

(Sarah Franks)

>> These cookies from Ashley’s Pastry Shop are so good that Allison Janney gets them delivered to the set

The key to the couple’s success is no secret at all. Sure, one Ashley’s butter cookie will give you an extra bounce in your step that will last the rest of the day. But most people in the community would agree that Theresa’s genuine kindness, which greets each person with who comes through the bakery’s door, is what has made the shop a local staple.

The building which houses Ashley's Pastry Shop has been home to bakeries for more than 90 years. From left to right, the shop has remained relatively unchanged throughout the years.(Sarah Franks)

Theresa met her husband, Greg, while they were both students at the University of Cincinnati, but moved to Detroit after graduation where Greg worked in the restaurant business. When the building on Park Ave. in Oakwood became vacant, the couple saw an opportunity to move back closer to family and jumped at it.

With Theresa’s marketing skills and Greg’s food production expertise, Theresa said they have been the perfect team ever since they opened shop. 

Ashley’s Pastry Shop won the Best of Dayton 2017 “Best Bakery” category, and Theresa Hammons is our Daytonian of the Week. 

>>Best of Dayton 2017 Winners:Food & Dining

🍩 What has been your biggest joy from running Ashley’s Pastry Shop?

“From the little kids who are on their way to school in the morning stopping by to get a doughnut, or that stop by after school because they got a great grade on their project. We get to see the beginning of generations right here, right before our eyes. There’s people that come in every single day — we can set our watch to it. 

>> Daytonian of the Week: Chris Harmon, Town Hall Theatre

It’s really neat because we have people that come back to our bakery when they’re in town for class reunions or visiting family and they walk in and one of the first things they always say is, ‘Oh, it smells just like I remember.’ Because we are truly a bakery that still does all our baking on premise. So, when you open our doors, you smell the bakery, you smell the aromas in the oven and you see the activity in the back of the shop. It’s just a great testament to that things change in life— and my gosh everything changes so very much— but it’s so wonderful that there are things that remain the same.”

Ashley's Pastry Shop sells hundreds of dozens of Butterscotch Rolls every Thanksgiving and ships them all over the country to people who want an authentic taste of Dayton on their holiday plate.

🍩 You studied marketing in college. After 36 years, have you been able to learn the ins and outs of the actual baking side of the business?  

“I can really do just about everything. The thing about running a small business, especially one that is service-driven, there’s not really any definition of ‘this is my job description’ and ‘this is all I’m gonna do.’ I think that’s what enables me to love what I do as much as I do, because each day is so different. I may be mixing, pulling things in and out of the oven, then running deliveries and then cleaning the pans. 

Especially when you’re working in a small business as close as we are with our employees. They know me and my husband are going to be right there beside them working with them. It enables a great sense of employee relationship with us.”

🍩 Are you ever overwhelmed with being surrounded by so much sugar every day? 

“It’s like you get almost a sugar high in a way. It’s almost like over stimulation. I find that if I come in the morning, if I don’t start to nibble, then I’m ‘okay’ throughout the day. But if I come in and I have a little cookie, or bread, or danish— I just find myself not being able to stop the rest of the day. 

>> Daytonian of the Week: Charlynda Scales, founder of ‘Mutt’s Sauce’

🍩 What product are you and your husband most proud of creating? 

“I probably would have to say the Sand Tart cookie, just because it’s been like a connection that’s enabled us, you know, it’s been a staple of this bakery forever so it just reminds people of their past from so many years ago. Keep in mind, the Orville home is right at the top of this street here. So there’s a couple of things that we make that they would come and get (at one of the bakeries preceeding Ashley’s). Being in this bakery and imagining, ‘Oh gosh, Orville and Wilbur (shopped here).’ 

Also, the Cronut is a trademarked name, so we call ours glazed croissants. Very similar, but we were making them long before the gentleman in New York. We just didn’t trademark it.”

🍩 How does a bakery know when they’ve got a great doughnut? 

“Freshness is of course the best thing ... One of the things we’ve started to do when we were in business 36 years ago, is what we don’t sell in a given day, we donate to Catholic Social Services. Because we want our product, when someone’s buying it, to be the freshest it can be.”

>> 8 local doughnuts to indulge in

(Ashley's Pastry Shop Facebook)

🍩 Why Did you and your husband want to make giving back to the community such an important part of Ashley’s?

“We’re very fortunate that we have the ability to give back to the community that has been so tremendous to us and has supported us for the last 36 years. That was just a big committment that my husband and I made. When you make that delivery down to St. Vincent’s, or you connect with House of Bread...and you see the ounce of difference we can give in terms of a loaf of bread, or a dozen cookies, or a few coffee cakes— the difference it really makes in the lives of people that really aren’t that far from us. You don’t really have to go that far to realize the need is so prevalent right here in Dayton, Ohio. ... My husband and I have to have a passion about the organization and then we’re on board full force.” 

🍩 Dayton: why do you love it so much?

“What’s making Dayton great is when we all rally around each other and support one another. ... There is so much and I think so much of the time, we’re surrounded by great cities like Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Columbus — I think sometimes we forget to look at how great our backyard is.” Want to go? WHAT: Ashley’s Pastry ShopWHERE: 21 Park Ave., OakwoodINFO:


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