Dayton Dining Classic: The Root Beer Stande is still going strong

Published: Thursday, March 23, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 @ 11:10 AM

We take a closer look at this piece of Dayton dining Americana.

Snow melting, birds chirping and flower buds sprouting are all considered signs of spring. But most Daytonians know the truly unmistakable sign of the season is when there’s life at The Root Beer Stande at 1727 Woodman Drive. 

>> 5 things you HAVE to eat at the Root Beer Stande

The car-hop style restaurant has been a staple of the Dayton and Kettering area since it first opened for business in 1961. 

In 2008 previous owner Alex Fabrick sold the business to then 25-year-old Emily Collins. She had a little experience working in the food industry, and zero managerial experience. 

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“I was straight out of college. I had my bachelors in fine arts. I came back to Dayton and there weren’t a lot of jobs for a potter,” Collins said. “I taught part-time. I worked in and liked the food business, and I always wanted to own my own business.” 

“I told my mom, ‘I’m going to buy that.’ She said ‘You’re crazy,’” she remembered. 

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So, with business plan in hand, Collins convinced a bank to back her vision. That’s when the real work began -- working to regain the customers who no longer saw The Root Beer Stande as a place to grab a good old-fashioned American meal. Collins says she was also battling a location that had deteriorated from years of neglect. So she began fixing things as she could, piece by piece. 

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Located on Woodman Drive, The Root Beer Stande first opened in 1961.(Jim Ingram)

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Nine years later, Collins says business has more than doubled, thanks to a number of developments. Those include updating the menu, while retaining old favorites like the hot dogs, footlongs, hamburgers, milkshakes and floats. For example, you can still get a hot dog, or you can dress it up Chicago, New York or southern style. Want ghost pepper or blue cheese on your cheeseburger? They can do that.

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Collins, a graduate of Stivers School for the Arts, has also brought the cash-only business into the 21st century by enabling customers to order and pay using a smartphone app, as well as having an aggressive social media presence. 

“We’ve not changed a lot. We’ve added a lot. So the people that have been coming here forever seem to be very happy with us still. We’ve also attracted the younger crowd,” Collins said. 

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Customers appreciate that The Root Beer Stande has maintained its 1960s American charm all these years later.

“We love the old-fashioned hot dogs and hamburgers, and of course, the root beer floats,” said Gary Leasure. He and his wife, Rose, have been loyal customers since the 1980s.

And longtime customers, who often point out the business is older than Collins herself, love to share their memories with her.

“I get a lot of that. Everybody’s got a story -- they’ve eaten here as a kid. They’re bringing their grandkids.” 

>> RELATED: 11 sandwiches you must eat in Dayton

Two big icy mugs of root beer floats are perfect to wash down a cheeseburger or hot dog.(Jim Ingram)

>> Best of Dayton 2017: Food & Dining winners


Collins, who has been keeping the seasonal business open from February through mid-November in recent years, says the biggest asset of The Root Beer Stande is that it is basically the same as it was 56 years ago.

“We serve them in the cold mug and the trays hang on the window. It’s carhop-only service. We’ve kept all the nostalgic, old-school (things).”

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5 of Dayton’s most sinfully delicious onion rings

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 2:00 PM
Updated: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 7:28 AM

Tony Stevens owner of Tony's Onion Rings and Fried Veggies fries up some onion rings at the Fourth of July festives at RiverScape.
Teesha McClam
Tony Stevens owner of Tony's Onion Rings and Fried Veggies fries up some onion rings at the Fourth of July festives at RiverScape.(Teesha McClam)

If you thought today was just a regular Friday, you’d better think again! It’s National Onion Ring Day. The momentous day we anticipate every year.

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 OK, it might just be another forgetful food holiday that comes and goes without much excitement. But let’s be honest, these golden, crispy, melt-in-your-mouth rings of joy sometimes don’t get the credit they deserve. 

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Jeremiah Suttles((cq)), 4, son of John Suttles((cq)) and Thea Suttles((cq)), eats some onion rings Friday at Trenton's new Yardbird's Southern Barbecue. Staff photo by Cameron Knight(CAMERON KNIGHT/JOURNALNEWS)

A juicy burger’s best friend and a vehicle for delicious chipotle or ranch sauce — onion rings are pretty important, and Dayton has some of the best. 

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Flip Side will be one of the restaurants that will occupy the new Liberty Center development when it opens later this year in Liberty Twp. The restaurant has a location at Easton Town Center in Columbus, pictured. This is the Crispy Flipside Onion Rings that are buttermilk battered with chile rubbed remoulade. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF(Nick Graham)

 So to help you celebrate this year, we asked around to see where Daytonians are going to get their onion ring fix. Here are some popular faves:

Tank’s Bar and Grill 


These onion rings sizzle in a flavorful batter that leaves them perfectly fried. And word on the street is, they’re BIG.  

Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen 


These fresh-cut, hand-battered rings are served with homemade ranch and Cajun dipping sauce. Yum!

Red Robin 


These juicy, thick-cut onion rings are piled high and waiting to be dunked in savory southwest chipotle sauce. Try NOT finishing the whole stack before your food comes.



Oh, the batter! Dunked in beer batter then fried to a golden crisp, these thick-cut onion rings are served with a side of southwestern ranch dressing. 

The Pine Club


This Food Network recognized steakhouse has deep-fried onion rings that you won’t be forgetting after your first bite. A generous portion of these skinny rings packs a lot of flavor into each bite. 

Tell us about your favorite onion rings. Send us an email with your top picks at

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The best patios in and around Dayton

Published: Thursday, April 12, 2018 @ 1:08 PM
Updated: Friday, April 13, 2018 @ 9:43 AM

Here are Dayton's top 3 patios as selected by 2017 Best of Dayton voters. Video by Amelia Robinson

Ahh, it’s that time of year again. We can’t wait to hear our hostess ask, “Would you like a seat inside or on the patio?”

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If you’re like us, you’re ready to say “patio please!”  

We’ve rounded up the best patios to visit in and around Dayton. 

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Little York Tavern & Pizza

The patio at Little York Tavern in Vandalia was vote Best of Dayton 2018.(Photo: Little York Tavern)

Why? Our readers voted Little York’s patio the best in Dayton in 2017, and for good reason. The spacious outdoor area features charming archways for you to sit beneath as you scarf down pub fare and brews.

Where: 4120 Little York Rd., Dayton

Hours: Mon-Sat 11 to 2:30 a.m., Sun 12 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

Info: WebsiteCall 937-890-6700

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Bargos Grill & Tap 

The patio at | Bargos Grill & Tap in Centerville(Bargos Grill & Tap)

Why? Another top choice from readers, Bargo’s has a wide selection of beers on tap (including local) as well as tasty kitchen offerings. The patio features an outside connection to the bar so you can stay outside in the sunshine -- oh and don’t miss their “Crazy Hour” for a great drink discount.

Where: Two locations in Centerville and Fairfield

Hours: Mon-Sat 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., Sun 12- to :30 a.m.

Info: Website | Call 937-999-1347 (Centerville)

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Basil’s on Market

The waterfront patio at Basil's On Market is a great place to soak up some sun and watch the people go by.(Connie Post)

Why? Few things are better than beautiful, delicious drinks and food overlooking the Great Miami River.

Where: 312 N. Patterson Blvd., Dayton 

Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sun 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Info: Website | Call 937-818-4390

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The Dayton Beer Company


Why? A variety of games, locally-crafted brews and the buzz of the city make this spot a patio favorite. 

Where: 41 Madison St., Dayton 

Hours: Tues-Thurs 4 to 10 p.m., Fri 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 12 a.m., Sun 12 to 6 p.m.

Info: Website | Call 937-228-2337

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Dublin Pub

The patio at Dublin Pub is a great place to kick back for a casual dinner or pint. (CONNIE POST/Staff)

Why? This is one of the chillest patios in the city. Sit under an umbrella and order a pint. 

Where: 300 Wayne Ave., Dayton

Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., Sun 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Info: Website | 937-224-7822

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Wheat Penny Restaurant

Wheat Penny Oven and Bar, 515 Wayne Ave., now offers a full summer patio. Photo source: Facebook

Why? Nothing goes better with vino and pizza than outdoors. Wheat Penny’s patio is great for groups, too.

Where: 515 Wayne Ave., Dayton

Hours: Mon-Sat 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Info: Website | Call 937-496-5268

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Ye Olde Trail Tavern


Why? You get a front row seat to people watch in the heart of downtown Yellow Springs, plus there’s great food and drink. Do a little shopping, then find a seat on the patio of Ohio’s second oldest restaurant.

Where: 228 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs

Hours: Mon-Sun 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Info: Website | Call 937-767-7448

>> RELATED: 8 classic Dayton-area restaurants that we miss

The Caroline 


Why? The Caroline has great food, and you get to enjoy it with a view of Troy’s charming Public Square.

Where: 5 S. Market St., Troy

Hours: Mon-Thurs 4 to 9 p.m., Fri-Sat 4 to 9:30 p.m.

Info:Website | 937-552-7676

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Coco’s Bistro

Coco’s Bistro (CONTRIBUTED)

Why? Those in search of a little romance need not look further than Coco’s cool, inviting patio.

Where: 250 Warren St., Dayton

Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sat 5 to 11 p.m.

Info: Website | Call 937-228-2626

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Fifth Street Brewpub

Fifth Street Brewpub is celebrating five years with music, special tappings, special bottlings and more on Saturday, June 24. CONTRIBUTED(Staff Writer)

Why? It’s a beer garden with homegrown brew -- what’s not to love?

Where: 1600 E. 5th St., Dayton

Hours: Mon-Thurs 4 to 11 p.m., Fri 11 to 12 a.m., Sat 10 a.m. to 12 a.m , Sun 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Info: Website | Call 937-443-0919

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The Oregon Express

Cinco de Mayo fun in the Oregon District at Dublin Pub and Oregon Express (Teesha McClam)

Why? The patio may no the fancy, but you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the Oregon District and that can been very, very interesting indeed.

Where: 336 E. 5th St., Dayton

Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sat 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Info: Website | Call 937-223-9205

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TJ Chumps

A view of the Rose Music Center in Huber Heights from the recently opened TJ Chumps. Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen

Why? With spacious dining spaces, TVs at nearly every angle and a huge variety of food and drink offerings, TJ Chumps patios at its four Dayton-area locations make it easy to enjoy the covered cozy patio tables.

Where: Multiple location sin Englewood, Huber Heights, Miamisburg and Fairborn.

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

Info: Website 

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Lily’s Bistro

Why? Lily’s has three patios with personality, including two that face Fifth Street. The restaurant’s beautifully landscaped back patio is a no-so-secret oasis that can accommodate up to 500 people.

Where: 329 E. 5th St., Dayton

Hours: Tues-Fri 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tues-Thurs 5 to 9 p.m., Fri-Sat 5 to 11 p.m., Sat-Sun 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sun 5 to 9 p.m.

Info: Website | Call 937-723-7637

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Brio Tuscan Grille

(Jennifer Podis)

Why? The restaurant’s sophisticated patio is the perfect place to watch entertainment happening in The Greene with munchies on your fork and wine in your glass.

Where: 4459 Cedar Park Dr., Beavercreek

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

Info: Website | Call 937-429-7792

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Peach’s Bar & Grill 

Worth the drive to Yellow Springs, Peach's Grill is a great place to catch a show and grab some grub.(Jim Ingram/Jim Ingram)

Why? Peach’s is a great spot to put back on those pounds you took off on the nearby Greene County bike path. Good food, people watching and beer help, too. While you’re in the Village, check out the patio at Yellow Springs Brewery.

Where: 104 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs

Hours: Mon-Sun 11 to 2:30 a.m.

Info: Website | Call 937-767-4850

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Jimmie’s Ladder 11

Jimmie's Ladder 11 in Dayton, near the UD campus.(Maria Norman for

Why? Potted plants help set the mood on this beautifully decorated and relaxed patio near UD. There is plenty of room for the entire gang.

Where: 936 Brown St., Dayton

Hours: Mon-Sun 11 to 2:30 a.m.

Info: Website | Call 937-424-1784

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El Meson

The indoor patio at El Meson.(Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen)

Why? Thanks to food and cocktails that transport you to Central America, South America and the Caribbean, festive decorations, heaters and weather panels, it always feels like the tropics on El Meson’s main patio -- even in the winter. You are not in the Buckeye State when you are one of the eatery’s patios.

Where: 903 E. Dixie Dr., Dayton

Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4:30 to 9 p.m., Fri 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4:30 to 10 p.m., Sat 4:30 to 10 p.m.

Info: Website | Call 937-859-8229

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The Trolley Stop

Trolley Stop, known for their incredible food and having one of Dayton's best bar patios, is a great place to see everything from rock and hip hop to zydeco.(Contributed)

Why? The Trolley Stop patio is a number of things, depending on the day and time you visit. It is a hidden garden in the middle of the city where you can read a book over lunch, a chill place to catch up with friends or a place to be seen my anyone who wants to look.


Hours: Mon-Sun 11 to 2 a.m.

Info:Website | Call 937-461-1101

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Did your favorite spot make the list? Drop me a line at

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Skyline Chili kicking it up a notch with return of sausage coney for limited time

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 10:42 AM

Staff Writer
PROVIDED(Staff Writer)

Almost exactly one year after Skyline Chili “quietly” tested an Andouille Sausage Coney at a Kettering Skyline restaurant, they’ve brought back the spicy dog. 

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“Andouille Sausage Coneys are BACK. We’ve taken our signature Coneys and kicked ‘em up a notch. Try them before they’re gone!” read a Skyline Chili Instagram post Wednesday afternoon. 

The specialty coneys are made with savory spices that give the links a “bold Southern accent.” 

>>Remember when Skyline Chili went GREEN for St. patrick’s Day? 

This limited time offer is available at participating locations in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida now through July 8th. If you can’t wait to get your hands on this signature Cincinnati Coney with a kick, we recommend calling your local Skyline Chili to make sure it is a participating location.

This sign was spotted in the Skyline Chili at 2724 Wilmington Pike this week. RONALD ROLLINS/STAFF(Staff Writer)


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Local food truck rises from the dead

Published: Wednesday, April 04, 2018 @ 11:36 AM
Updated: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 10:03 AM

Zombie Dogz is operating its popular food truck for select major events this year after announcing last fall the truck would be retired.

What was once the Dayton area’s most popular food truck has risen from the dead, at least for the time being.

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Zombie Dogz — which operates a bricks-and-mortar restaurant on Brown Street adjacent to the University of Dayton — got its start as a food truck, developing a large and loyal Zombie following around town before announcing last fall they were retiring the truck due to mechanical issues. 

>>PHOTOS: These are some of the best hot dogs you can get at Zombie Dogz

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But it turns out the food truck is Not Dead Yet.

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“So, we've got this thing we keep flip-floppin’ with, and it's our food truck,” Zombie Dogz owners David and Lee VanArtsdalen said late last month on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

>> RELATED: Zombie Dogz fans lose their brains after bombshell announcement

“We LOVE our food truck and were completely upset that we had to shut her down last season. ...This season will be specifically event to event ONLY ... we will be taking her out a few times a month. She ain't pretty!!! She's been through a lot, but she's our mess and we just can't seem to part ways with her!!!! The memories and our start all came from that trailer and it's hard letting her go.”

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We reached out to David VanArtsdalen to learn more, and here’s what he told us :

“We will only be using the truck for bigger festivals and some food truck rallies. We will not be doing the day-to-day stuff with it this year. The truck that we tow the trailer with has been having issues and we don’t want to commit to a bunch of stuff in case we’re not able to fulfill the obligation.”

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“I think people are pretty excited that it will be coming out every once in a while — especially when we do events up north or down south. That way people who can’t make it to the restaurant can still get a chance to stop by the truck. And there’s definitely people who prefer the truck over the restaurant. So that works well for them, too.” 

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Zombie Dogz, which has nearly 40,000 “Likes” on the restaurant’s Facebook page, started the transition from food truck to bricks-and-mortar restaurant in 2016, opening its restaurant in November 2016. A year later, the VanArtsdalens announced they would retire their food truck, which they said was “on its last legs” in need of expensive repairs.

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The Zombie Dogz food truck was winner of the “Best Food Truck in Ohio” designation in Ohio Magazine’s 2016 Best of Ohio Readers’ Ballot. Zombie Dogz also finished second in Mobile Cuisine’s 2016 Hot Dog Vendor of the Year poll — a national poll.

>> RELATED: Zombie Dogz restaurant draws big crowd on opening day

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