Becoming buoyant: I tried the sensory-deprivation float at Gravity Spa

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Alex Perry
(Alex Perry)

Upon entering the Gravity Spa in Beavercreek, you immediately get the sense you’re in a place of relaxation -- and not just because of the comical sign in the window asking for quietness. 

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You’ll see aquatic-inspired artwork, hear soothing instrumental music, and smell a faint scent of essential oils. The employees are either barefoot or in socks, greeting their regulars with a hug and piping-hot cup of tea.

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The most surprising thing to me about Gravity Spa was their focus on military members. In the lobby, I noticed a veteran wearing a jacket signifying their retirement from duty. I then noticed signs encouraging veterans to join a private online group providing support to veteran floaters. There was a collection jar for funds supporting veterans’ financial ability to float, and I overheard military discounts offered upon checkout. Even spouses got a discount. It was intriguing and touching how involved the Gravity Spa seemed to be with its community. As the daughter of a combat veteran, I felt an immediate urge to text my mom and tell her about what I was seeing -- maybe they could help her, too. 

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For starters, the flotation tank is a large vat filled with 1,000 lbs. of Epsom salt and just under a foot of 93.5-degree water.

I spoke with the owner of Gravity Spa, Melony Wimer, to get a better understanding of how it worked.

After we chatted, Wimer showed me the shower supplies available to all pre- and post-float. Since they use germicidal UV lights, as well as natural cleansers, they insist each guest remove all traces of products from their skin and hair, as to not leave behind residue in the tank. 

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(Alex Perry)

Having just left work, I had a face of makeup and hair full of product, so I quickly cleansed myself with a pre-float solution (which Wimer informed me was simply Dr. Bronner’s baby soap). Once clean, I hopped in the tank and closed the door. In complete darkness, I floated there for over an hour in silence. Since a large amount of the brain is used to deal with the effects of gravity, the lack of processing allowed for an almost euphoric feeling -- much like you feel just before you fall asleep. I had read on their website about the ability to enter a deep meditative state, but I didn’t quite make it there myself. 

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(Alex Perry)

During the float, my brain teetered between complete relaxation and anxiousness. I’m a mother of two kids under three, who’s moving into a new home, planning a wedding, and constantly involved in technology and communication. As this may suggest, I rarely stop. I struggled to quiet my thoughts and “embrace the void.” It reminded me a lot of what Uma Mullapudi explained to me in our chat about meditation -- it can be very challenging to “shut off,” and it wasn’t until I experienced it myself that I realized how true this was. 

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(Alex Perry)

Physically, I could feel certain areas of my back and neck becoming less tense -- even cracking gently as I moved peacefully in the water. After I left and went about my day, I noted more stamina during my evening workout, a better night’s sleep, and no soreness in my arms this morning (it’s been a while since I’ve picked up free weights). Overall, this was an experience I would like try again, and would recommend it to anyone suffering from anxiety, stress or physical tension.

Want to go?

WHAT: Gravity Spa

WHERE: 1905 Woods Dr.

HOURS: Monday - Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

INFO: or 937-696-9595

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SNEAK PEEK: Photos from inside this highly anticipated Oregon District restaurant

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 12:51 PM

New restaurant and bar coming to Wayne Avenue

This troll is going to be easy on the eye. 

That’s one conclusion you can draw from some of the new photos that have emerged showing the interior of Troll Pub at the Wheelhouse coming to 220 Wayne Ave. in the Oregon District. 

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Amy Walbridge, the city of Dayton’s special projects administrator for Oregon District East, snapped some photos during her sneak peek inside the tavern. 

She said visitors are in for a treat at the pub, which is expected to celebrate its grand opening between March 15-17. 

Troll Pub in the Wheelhouse is expected to open in March.(Photo: Amy Walbridge,)

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Walbridge said the eatery, the second location for Troll Pub Under the Bridge in Louisville, will start training its employees soon. 

“It is better (than the original location),” said Walbridge,  who was raised in Louisville. “It is very open. You can see into the kitchen.” 

Great care was taken in the design choices, she said.

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Walbridge mentioned the Troll Pub’s reclaimed wood, unique light fixtures — some taken from a ship — and elements that pay tribute to the building’s past use for wheel and car manufacturing.

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 The restaurant meshes well with the dining scene in downtown Dayton, she said. 

“Everyone is trying to create a unique experience when we go in. I am a fan of all the independent restaurants we have,” she said. 

Troll Pub Wheelhouse is a 6,500-square-foot restaurant and bar that is expected to seat as many as 250.

Troll Pub in the Wheelhouse is expected to open in March.(Photo: Amy Walbridge,)

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The Dayton pub will offer an extensive selection of craft beers and bourbons and will offer a food described as pub grub made from scratch.
The Wheelhouse also includes apartment and retail space. 

The 150-year-old building has come a long way since we first took you inside of it back in May 2017. 


Troll Pub in the Wheelhouse is expected to open in March.(Photo: Amy Walbridge,)

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2nd Street Market’s newest vendor focuses on natural skincare

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Dr. Catherine Harrison pictured here with the ingredient list of her Sea Buckthorn Rejuvenating Eye Cream.
Alex Perry
Dr. Catherine Harrison pictured here with the ingredient list of her Sea Buckthorn Rejuvenating Eye Cream.(Alex Perry)

The 2nd Street Market in downtown Dayton has a new vendor.

Willowdale Botanicals, the newest permanent vendor, is located to the left of The Flowerman. Its space is full of handcrafted skincare, teas and aromatherapy. 
Neuroscientist and farmer Dr. Catherine Harrison combines science and nature in a gentle skincare line. 

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Why skincare?

“[One day] I wanted to buy a good eye cream, something that was ‘all good’ and none of the ‘bad,’ but I found nothing I wanted,” Harrison said. 

So she took matters into her own hands. She began distilling herbs grown on her family farm, established her own laboratory and got to work experimenting and producing what is now Celluvati.

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Nearly all of the ingredients in her products are grown on her farm, Willowdale, in Lewisburg, Ohio. Other portions of the formulas are created in her lab, or are sourced from ethical and fair trade manufacturers (such as her essential oils). There are no artificial ingredients, including preservatives, which are replaced with home-grown solutions such as fermented radish root and elderberry distill. 

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“When someone makes the decision to purchase a natural item, they’re supporting an acreage of land that serves as an oasis for many plant species, animals and insects,” Harrison said. “[We] need to support local farmers.”

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Want to go?

WHAT: Willowdale Botanicals at 2nd Street Market

WHERE: 600 E. Second St.

HOURS: Thurs-Fri 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sat 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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6 of the BEST places for Chinese food in Dayton

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Chinese Restaurants in Dayton

Craving Chinese food? Try one of these top spots in Dayton. 

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1.) Ozu852 

Voted #1 in the 2017 Best of Dayton poll, this spot is known for high-quality customer service and fresh, delicious dishes. Specializes in sushi.

Where: 852 Union Blvd., Clayton

Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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2.) CJ Chan 

Offering both Japanese and Chinese cuisine, this spot features a create-your-own-dish option to appease nearly any palate and flavor profile.  

Locations: 2747 W. Alex Bell Rd., Moraine and 536 Wilmington Ave., Dayton

Hours: Mon-Thurs 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri-Sat 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sun 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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Mai Fun from CJ Chan. Photo via Facebook

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3.) Ginger and Spice 

Handcrafted cuisine in a fast, casual setting. Also offers local craft beers.

Location: 1105 Brown Street, Dayton

Hours: Mon-Sat 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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4.) Shen’s Szechuan & Sushi 

Contemporary restaurant serving Chinese fare and sushi, plus unique cocktails and craft beer.

Location: 7580 Poe Ave., Dayton 

Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sat 12 to 10:30 p.m., Sun 12 to 9 p.m.

Grand Marnier Chicken. Photo via Facebook

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5.) China Cottage 

A warm, festive atmosphere with a live exhibition kitchen.

Locations: 6290 Far Hills Ave., Dayton; 3718 Wilmington Pike, Dayton; 1983 Shiloh Springs Rd., Trotwood; and 784 N. Main St., Springboro.

Hours: Sun-Thurs 

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6.) Asia Gourmet 

Friendly, casual restaurant specializing in Chinese and Thai cuisine.  

Location: 5518 Burkhardt Ave., Dayton

Hours: Tues-Thurs 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sun 12 to 9:30 p.m.

Did we miss your favorite? Email

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This Dayton-famous hoagie is a classic -- have you tried it?

Published: Friday, December 22, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

The Famous Hoagie at Hoagie's Pizza House.
Photo: Amelia Robinson
The Famous Hoagie at Hoagie's Pizza House.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

Sometimes you pass a Dayton gem all the time and never recognize its shine. 

For me, that was the case with Hoagie’s Pizza House, a family-owned business in the mostly green-and-yellow building located at 6128 N. Dixie Drive in Harrison Twp., Montgomery County. 

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To say I’ve been meaning to stop into the independent eatery is an understatement. I’ve heard of the place for years, which is no wonder. 

Ralph Hoagland opened Hoagie’s in 1969.

It sticks out on the corner of Gipsy Avenue and N. Dixie Drive near Dixie Twin Drive-In and the delicious Olive Mediterranean Grill. 

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Hoagland’s daughter, Theresa “Micki” Collins, now owns the store. She closed the Troy location about two years ago. 

Hoagie's Pizza House in Harrison Twp.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

I’ve seen the restaurant’s iconic sign featuring a moustached chef in tails carrying a pizza and reading “How About A Pizza?” more times than I can count. 

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The Leadbelly Boys, Dayton Daily News’ former food crew, tried to take down an 18-inch Hoagie’s square-cut pizza back in 2004 and nearly didn’t live to tell about it. 

Alas, even we mighty and steel-gutted Leadbelly Boys sometimes meet our match. Not often, mind you, but sometimes. In this case, we strode haughtily into the unassuming-looking Hoagie’s, thinking there was no pizza in town that could get the best of us. But we will admit when we’re beaten. And so we admit that the 18-inch whopper that the chuckling waitress brought to our table was more than we could handle. Thin crust but still a thick pizza, with a killer dose of cheese and a humdingin’ sauce. Carrying our leftovers with us, we left with our tails between our Leadbelly legs.

I walked into the restaurant not knowing what to expect, and was greeted by a friendly cashier who answered all my questions with ease. 

The beer and candy selections are displayed on the wall behind the counter. 

After placing my order -- the Famous Hoagie recommended by a friend -- I headed to the dining room and found two rooms of booths and tables. 

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Christmas decorations filled shelves below the main room’s TV. A Mickey and Minnie Mouse cutout was propped up against an old-school CD jukebox in the second dining room. 

Besides pizza and hoagies, the restaurant offers a variety of Italian-inspired sandwiches and pasta dishes. On its menu, Hoagie’s brags about its homemade dough.

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The freshness was apparent when my fully loaded hoagie came out. 

The toasted white sub-style bun held an ample amount of ham, salami, pepperoni, provolone and mayo and a mess of veggies: shredded lettuce, tomato, sliced onion,  chopped bell pepper, sliced banana peppers and surprising green onions. 

The Famous Hoagie at Hoagie's Pizza House.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

I ordered a large sub, about 12 inches, for $10.35. Cut in four, the delicious sandwich came out in a metal basket and could have fed two people easily. I took home leftovers.   

You can get a half-sized Famous Hoagie for $5.20. 

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Hoagie’s fans rave about its pizza and the Spider “Pizza Sandwich,” which has ham, salami, provolone, pizza sauce, banana peppers, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and green peppers on a submarine bun. 

I’m looking forward to trying it, and Hoagie’s take on Dayton-style square-cut pizza, on my next visit. 

Let’s see if those Leadbelly Boys had it right. 

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The Famous Hoagie at Hoagie's Pizza House.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

The interior of Hoagie's Pizza House in Harrison Twp. The restaurant was decorated for Christmas 2017.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

The interior of Hoagie's Pizza House in Harrison Twp.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

The front counter at Hoagie's Pizza House.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

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