Local Fazoli’s to host all-you-can-eat spaghetti contest

Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 @ 6:10 AM

            Fazoli’s CEO Carl Howard, who has led the Italian restaurant chain since 2008, is a native of Kettering and a 1983 graduate of Fairmont East High School. MARK FISHER/STAFF

Only fast slurpers need apply.

Fazoli’s will host a spaghetti-eating contest from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 22 at its Sugarcreek Twp. restaurant at 6110 Wilmington Pike in front of the Sugarcreek Plaza.

Contestants will compete to eat the largest amount of spaghetti and marinara sauce within eight minutes. The winner will receive a $250 Visa gift card, free spaghetti at Fazoli’s for one year and a Fazoli’s T-shirt.

At the conclusion of the contest, Fazoli’s will donate 1,000 pounds of dried pasta to Feed the Children, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger, a Fazoli’s spokeswoman said in a release.

RELATED: Fazoli’s chooses Dayton to launch new restaurant concept (March 2010)

Fazoli’s is hosting the pasta-eating contest as a way to kick off its Endless Pasta Fest, where diners can take advantage of unlimited refills on all pasta dishes for $6.99.

The restaurant chain recently announced that it has completely removed all artificial sweeteners, flavors, preservatives and colors from its food menu. Fazoli’s officials said the fast-casual Italian chain is the first national brand under 1,000 units and the third restaurant overall — behind Panera Bread and Chipotle — to offer a completely “clean” food menu.

“We know our guests love Fazoli’s spaghetti and signature marinara sauce, so we thought a pasta eating contest would be a fun way to celebrate our Endless Pasta Fest promotion while contributing 1,000 pounds of dried pasta to Feed the Children,” Donna Josephson, chief marketing officer of Fazoli’s, said in a release.

RELATED: Restaurant exec from Kettering wins national award (May 2014)

Fazoli’s CEO Carl Howard, a native of Kettering and a 1983 graduate of what was then Fairmont East High School, came back to Dayton three weeks ago to call attention to the clean-menu initiative and to call attention to a revamped menu.

“We eliminated more than 80 artificial ingredients from 61 different menu items,” Howard said March 27 at the Fazoli’s across from the Dayton Mall in Miami Twp. “Every step along the way, we’ve improved the food.”

RELATED: Fazoli’s CEO announces menu overhaul

The overhauled menu is now in place in all Fazoli’s in the Dayton area and in the Lexington, Ky. area, where the chain is headquartered. It will be in place by the end of June in all Fazoli’s company-owned restaurants.

Founded in 1988, the chain operates 213 units across 25 states, including seven restaurants in the Dayton-Springfield area.

RELATED: Fazoli’s Italian restaurant chain sold (July 2015)

The chain has been on the rebound under Howard’s leadership. Fazoli’s has generated 15 straight quarters of same-store sales growth, and same-store sales increased 4.9 percent in January, according to the trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News.

Howard is a bit of an anomaly in the high-turnover restaurant industry. He has led Fazoli’s for nine years, and even survived a corporate change of ownership: in July 2015, Fazoli’s was sold by Sun Capital Partners to Sentinel Capital Partners, which also owns TGI Fridays and which just last month sold its Checkers/Rally’s Drive-In Restaurants.

Grammy-winning singer Lucinda Williams to perform at Victoria Theatre

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Three-time Grammy Award-winner Lucinda Williams, who will release a re-recorded version of her 1992 album, Sweet Old World, this summer, performs at Victoria Theatre in Dayton on Tuesday, May 2. CONTRIBUTED

Three-time Grammy Award-winner Lucinda Williams, who is performing at Victoria Theatre on Tuesday, May 2, was home in Los Angeles when she took time for a brief telephone interview.

She discussed her current tour, working with her husband, Tom Overby, and the follow-up to her 12th studio album, “The Ghosts of Highway 20,” released in 2016.


Q: Your last two albums were released on your own label. How is that?

A: “It hasn’t really changed my approach because I’ve always had the freedom I needed in terms of what I’m recording, how the songs go and the production. When you have your own label, the biggest change is it’s a little more open to how many songs you can put there or if it’s going to be a double album or not. You don’t have to worry about how long a song is. When I was recording the ‘West’ album I actually had enough songs to do a double CD but Lost Highway didn’t want to do that. We don’t have to deal with that now because we make all the decisions.”

Q: Did you plan on the last two releases being double albums?

A: “No, that’s just how they shook out. This last one was a double album really just because one track, ‘Faith & Grace,’ was so long. We didn’t want to make it any shorter because we thought it was amazing the way it is. Everything we do is very organic. I kind of go through spurts of songwriting and I come up with some songs. Then I might not come up with anything for a while and then I’ll write a couple of more. We were also going back and pulling from older material that hadn’t been released. That created a bigger catalog of material, too.”

Q: What’s up next, your third consecutive double album?

A: “No, the latest thing is we just re-recorded the ‘Sweet Old World’ album. That’s the biggest news and it sounds like a brand new album. I was hesitant at first to revisit all those old songs but I’m really excited about it. The keys of the songs have changed because my voice is different now than it was in 1992 but we ended up with some amazingly beautiful new arrangements.”

Q: What does Tom bring to the projects?

A: “He worked for record labels, mainly marketing and A&R, so he comes ups with really good ideas. He manages me and he also brings in a lot of creative ideas like re-recording the ‘Sweet Old World’ album.”

>> RELATED: The big Broadway shows coming to Dayton we’re pretty excited about


Who: Lucinda Williams

Where: Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 2

Cost: $39.50-$49.50

More info: 937-228-3630 or www.ticketcenterstage.com

Artist info: www.lucindawilliams.com

20 ways to celebrate National Bike Month in Dayton

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

National Bike Month is a celebration of all things cycling and what better place to celebrate than the Miami Valley.

May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling and encourage people to give biking a try.

>> RELATED: The best bike trails in Dayton

With more than 340 miles of connected bike trails and the designation of being a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community, the Dayton area is a haven for cyclists.

“Cycling is huge year-round in Dayton,” said Lucy Sanchez, Five Rivers MetroParks outdoor recreation event coordinator. “But with the weather changing, May is a great time to kick off the cycling season.”

From educational programs and recreational rides to the National Bike to Work Pancake Breakfast – that brought close to 700 cyclists to RiverScape last year – there is a full slate of local cycling events in May.

>> RELATED: Best places to hike in Dayton

“Many people biked when they were a kid, but then they got their license and a car and left it behind,” Sanchez said. “For a lot of people, getting back on a bike is a way to reconnect with something that made them very happy. You can’t help but smile when you’re on a bike and it’s great to be able to get more people to enjoy it.”

>> RELATED: Dayton disc golf guide


May is National Bike Month. National Bike to Work Week is May 15-19 and National Bike to Work Day is May 19. Here are more events:


National Bike Challenge begins: Join at www.nationalbikechallenge.org for the challenge that runs from May 1-September 30.

Cycle Chat: Kick off National Bike Month with a social ride with the Columbus chapter founder of Black Girls do Bike, Bertie Ford. Enjoy an 11.5-mile round-trip scenic group ride on the Great Miami Bikeway at 6 p.m. Gather at Star City Brewing Company for socializing and a presentation by Ford at 7 p.m.

Smart Cycling Part 1: Taught by the League of American Bicyclists’ certified instructors, this course covers basic, intermediate and advanced cycling tips and techniques for adults. This two-day course at the Piqua YMCA — second day is May 3 — includes classroom instruction, on-bike training and a group ride. Cost is $25, information at www.miamicountyymca.net.


Miami Valley Cycling Summit: Enjoy speakers, workshops and an exhibitor area showcasing the economic power of bicycling at this free event at the Wright State University student union. Visit www.cyclingsummit.com for information.

Courteous Mass: See the city from your bike during this monthly event designed for all ages and ability levels. Riders meet at the Fifth Third Field Plaza at 6:30 p.m. Helmets and lights are strongly encouraged.


Cycling Summit Century Ride: Hosted by Greene County Parks and Trails with proceeds benefiting Bike Miami Valley’s advocacy mission. Choose to ride either 62 or 100 miles along the Little Miami Scenic Trail with awards for those who complete the ride. Learn more and register at https://reservations.gcparkstrails.com/programs/1188/.

Bike for the Health of It: Join the MetroParks Volunteer Patrol on a bike ride, on the Stillwater River Bikeway South. Meet at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark at 9 a.m. for the 16-mile ride. Registration requested, walk-ins welcome, visit www.metroparks.org.

MAY 13

43rd Annual Huffman Spring Classic: Enjoy a 30, 50, or 62.5-mile bike tour along the Great Miami River with the Dayton Cycling Club. Registration includes food. Information and registration at www.daytoncyclingclub.org/Huffman-Classic.

Bike for the Health of It: Join MetroParks’ staff on an 11-mile bike ride, rain or shine, on the Wolf Creek Bikeway. Meet in the parking lot behind Rob’s Restaurant, Brookville, at 9 a.m.

Kiwanis Bicycle Rodeo for Kids, Piqua: Participants will learn the ABC’s of safe cycling and participate in training exercises designed to teach basic cycling skills. Piqua High School Key Club members will lead the rodeo with assistance from League of American Bicyclist certified instructors from 9 a.m.-noon at Piqua Washington School.

MAY 15

GO W/THE FLOW– Bike Edition: Get your mind, body and soul ready for a week of bike riding with a free GO W/THE FLOW Vinyasa yoga class with live music at RiverScape MetroPark from 6-7 p.m. Bring your own mat. Information and registration at www.metroparks.org.

MAY 17

Trailside Repairs: This hands-on class, taught by Five Rivers MetroParks’ staff, will cover bike selection, commuting equipment, and trip preparation. Briefly discuss traffic laws, hazards encountered, safe-riding skills, and proper route planning. Registration required at www.metroparks.org. Fee: $5.

Annual Ride of Silence: Rides worldwide to remember those cyclists who have been injured or killed while riding. Several rides are planned in Ohio, including Troy and Cincinnati. For details, visit http://rideofsilence.org.

MAY 19

Five Rivers MetroParks’ Bike to Work Day Pancake Breakfast: Leave your car in the garage and support National Bike to Work Day. Ride in on your own or with a group to RiverScape MetroPark for a free pancake breakfast before work. Live music, cycling exhibitors and team challenge are also part of the fun.

National Bike to Work Day at Springfield City Plaza: Hosted by Bike Springfield, get free bike lights, food, smoothies, and enjoy music from 7-8:30 a.m. Visit https://www.facebook.com/CyclingClarkCounty for details.

MAY 20

Bike for the Health of It: Join MetroParks’ staff for a 16-mile bike ride on the Great Miami River Bikeway. Meet in the parking lot of Rip Rap Park, at the intersections of Little York, Rip Rap and Taylorsville roads at 9 a.m. All ages welcome.

Black Pug Bikes Supports Yellow Springs Brewery & Bike Miami Valley: Trailside repairs/inspections provided by Chris Worrell, owner of Black Pug Bikes, at Yellow Springs Brewery from noon-4 p.m. Get a tune-up, meet knowledgeable staff from Bike Miami Valley and pick up a free trail map and safety booklets. A portion of the proceeds benefit Bike Miami Valley’s mission to advocate, promote and create opportunities for all forms of bicycling.

MAY 21

Bike to the Dragons: Hop on your bike with the family and head downtown to watch America’s favorite pastime. The first 50 cyclists to register on the Dragon’s website and “Bike to the Game” will win complimentary lawn seats and a pack of prizes courtesy of Five Rivers MetroParks, Dayton Dragons and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Committee. Valet bike parking will be available for those who Bike to the Dragons starting at 1 p.m., game time is 2 p.m. Bicycles must be claimed no later than 30 minutes after the last pitch. Registration begins May 1 at www.daytondragons.com.

May 27

Bike for the Health of It: Join MetroParks’ staff for a 9-mile bike ride on the Great Miami River Trail south to Riverfront Park. Meet at West Carrollton Low Dam, North Alex Road to Hydraulic Road, at 9 a.m.

Wegerzyn Bike Rodeo for Kids: Join the MetroParks’ Rangers for a morning of bicycle safety from 9 a.m.-noon. Bring your two-wheeled bicycle — with or without training wheels. Receive a free properly fitted bike helmet, while supplies last. The bicycle course teaches young riders the rules of the road. Registration is requested, walk-ins welcome, www.metroparks.org.

More event info:

Five Rivers MetroParks: www.metroparks.org/bike-month/regional-events/

Bike Miami Valley: www.bikemiamivalley.org/event-calendar/

Which UpDayton 2017 project has your vote? 

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 @ 2:24 PM

Projects that benefit Dayton will square up against one another on Thursday, April 27 at Dayton Art Institute,  456 Belmonte Park N. in Dayton’s Grafton Hill neighborhood. 

>> Explore the Grafton Hill and Five Oaks neighborhoods 

The ninth annual UpDayton Summit is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $25 and student tickets are $10.

Participants can register via UpDayton’s website or at the door. Proceeds raised will benefit this year’s winning projects selected by event participants.

Each of three winning projects selected will receive $1,000 in seed money and a year of support from UpDayton staff, leaders and volunteers.

“People should come because it is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to get involved in with the community,” said AJ Ferguson, UpDayton’s director. “It is kind of an exciting way to be there at the beginning of the idea, to know what is going on and to mingle with everyone there.” 

The Summit will also feature displays about two of last year’s winning projects: Dayton Icon and the Longest Table.

>> PHOTOS: The Longest Table spans divide

>> Learn more about 2016 UpDayton’s winning ideas

Ferguson said UpDayton worked even closer with presenters for this year’s Summit than they did last year.  

Below are 12 projects vying to be selected this year. Information is on UpDayton’s website and listed with presenter’s names.

>> MORE: When Bryan Stewart was Daytonian of the Week

Jason Antonick
Rooftop RendezView

“Jason knows that downtown Dayton is booming with new development, but word has only just begun to reach the rest of our region. His project brings a one-of-a-kind event to life on the roof of the Transportation Center garage.”

Tom Everhart & Beth Miller
Wagtown Dog Track

“Beth and Tom believe dog-friendly communities are better communities for everyone. Their project seeks to create a dog-friendly walking route connecting Webster Station and the Oregon District.”

Jerod Frenzl
Community Garden Expo

“Jerod came to Dayton through the AmeriCorps program and has been too involved in the community to think about moving anywhere else. His project teaches residents of all ages how to grow their own produce and use it in everyday cooking.”


Christine Hamilton
Third Street Three

“Christine Hamilton is a City of Dayton police officer. She sees first-hand how community pride counteracts vandalism and strengthens neighborhoods. Her project brings together police, artists, neighbors and the courts to create three murals along the East Third Street corridor.”

Wes Hartshorn & Jeff Paul
Carnival on a Corner

“Wes & Jeff, performing artists themselves, want to fill the streets of downtown Dayton with fire jugglers, musicians and more. Their project seeks to inspire new audiences and support for these artists.”

Nick Hrkman

“Nick is generous with his time volunteering to support all kinds of organizations in the community. His project inspires volunteers to give more by rewarding them with works from local artists.”

Karlos Marshall & Moses Mbeseha
The Reading Park Project

“Karlos and Moses are the co-founders of The Conscious Connect, Inc., a nonprofit with the mission to eradicate urban “book deserts.” Their project seeks to turn underutilized spaces along the Salem Peace Corridor into welcoming places to read a book, have an event, or learn something new.”

Amanda Miller & Lauren White
Beyond Addiction

“To Lauren & Amanda the heroin epidemic isn’t just a headline—it’s personal. Their project challenges us to think differently about people challenged by addiction and our role in supporting them.”

Bryan Stewart
Project Rebound

“Bryan is a huge advocate for a more connected community. His project seeks to use basketball and other sports as a way to bridge divides and boost Dayton children.

Devon Stinson
Comfort Bags

“Devon is a former foster youth with a passion for giving back and telling her story. Her project seeks to partner with Agape for Youth to expand their Comfort Bags program.”

Robert Walker
It's All Downhill from Here

“Robert is a downtown entrepreneur and a champion for Dayton. His project brings the soap box derby, a Dayton invention, back to our city with some new twists.”

Marshall Weil
Day of Intentional Discomfort (DID)

“Marshall believes Dayton is a place where you can make anything happen. His project challenges us to go beyond our comfort zone to explore Dayton places we’ve never been with people we've never met."

7 reasons not to miss Dayton GeekFest

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

            The planets of Star Wars and Geek Jeopardy will be projected onto the 50-foot dome of the planetarium. CONTRIBUTED

This Friday, the third annual GeekFest takes over the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

Geekfest is always a special night, a celebration of fandom and all things nerdy. We talked to Jason Heaton, Assistant Director of Astronomy for Boonshoft and GeekFest organizer, about why you should attend this “growing comic con with a science bent.”

1. The Star Wars room

Bring your whole family to GeekFest and introduce them to the dork side of the force with Boonshoft’s Star Wars Room. Heaton says the Star Wars Room will feature “the Death Star on our Science on a Sphere, Star Wars characters from the local 501st chapter, custom lightsabers built by Cincinnati’s Outer Rim Sabers, and even a fully functional R2D2 built by Alexandra Forsythe from the R2 Builders Club in Fort Wayne.”

2. The Planetarium

At GeekFest, a lot of the action goes down under the dome. This year in the planetarium, you’ll find Beat-the-Geek, a new reverse trivia game.

“The audience can try and stump our expert geeks on topics such as Game of Thrones, music, or even Tarantino movies,” says Heaton. Also new this year will be Kobayashi Maru, an “unbeatable simulation of the Star Trek universe.”

Returning to GeekFest in 2017 is Planets of the Empire, “a fun and interactive show that tests the audience on their knowledge of the worlds of the Galactic Empire” of Star Wars.

3. The Games

No Limit Gaming will be bringing the highly anticipated Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which is being released that day. “Up to 4 players will be able to play on our 50 foot planetarium dome,” Heaton said. “We will be excited to be the first planetarium dome in the world that guests can play the game on.” Doug’s Arcade and Gaming Adventures will also be trucking in some arcade cabinets.

Analog games more your thing? D20 will be bringing tabletop games to enjoy in the game room. “Orc and Pie,” a five-minute D&D experience, will also be returning in 2017.

4. The Cosplay

GeekFest is one of the best annual events in Dayton to see some breathtaking cosplay. Cosplayers from far and wide come to Boonshoft to show off a year’s worth of work on their incredible costumes. This year, the costume contest will have a new format: a parade through the museum, with judging taking place throughout the evening.

5. The Vendors and Exhibitors

Boonshoft will be packed with tons of cool stuff to purchase. “Vendors that create everything from chain mail to custom dragon figurines,” says Heaton. Bell Book and Comic, Maverick’s, Squid Pro Quo and Book of Holding are some of the many local vendors who will be displaying their wares. McNasty’s food truck will be serving up dinner.

Kabochacon, Dayton Maker Fair, and other Miami Valley events will be represented at GeekFest, as well.

6. The Door Prizes

Just like every year, everyone who shows up at GeekFest will be eligible for a door prize. “This year’s door prizes include a $50 gift certificate from Bookery Fantasy, a custom-made crochet Baby Groot doll, a Death Star Waffle Maker, and several more.”

7. It’s for a good cause

GeekFest directly supports the Astronomy department of the Boonshoft museum — so you can help keep geekdom alive while helping out the museum.

Want to go?

WHAT: Boonshoft GeekFest

WHEN: 6-11 p.m. Friday, April 28

WHERE: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, 2600 Deweese Pkwy, Dayton

COST: Tickets are available for purchase at $10 per person. All ages are welcome. Tickets available here.

INFO: www.boonshoftmuseum.org or 937-275-7431