Dayton Upfront: Jay’s Seafood

 Dayton Upfront: Jay’s Seafood

Jay’s Seafood is more than a restaurant—it’s a part of the region’s past

By Madison McCray

When diners walk into Jay’s Seafood in the Historic Oregon District, they’re taking a step back in time. 

According to Jay’s Seafood restaurant heiress and current owner, Amy Haverstick, the construction of the building hasn’t changed because it keeps the establishment unique and historical. Jay’s is the first official business in Dayton’s historic Oregon District, according to Haverstick, and sits at 225 E. Sixth St. 

The building itself originally was the Dayton Corn and Grist Mill, but it currently houses antiques and historical items from across the Dayton region. 

The bar’s smooth, Mahogany wood offers patrons an architectural glimpse into the past. It dates back to James Ritty’s Pony House, which opened in 1882. The Pony House was such a big deal that, according to the restaurant’s website, even Buffalo Bill once rode his horse to the saloon for a drink.

Ritty—who, along with his brother, is credited as the inventor of an early mechanical cash register—opened the saloon in what previously had been a French and English school for young ladies. When the saloon was torn down (the site is currently home to the Crowne Plaza Hotel), the bar was carefully taken apart and preserved before moving to Jay’s. Made of 5,400 pounds of Honduran Mahogany and leather, it’s a sight to take in. 

Another piece of history in Jay’s dining room are the white banisters, which were acquired from the Old Xenia Hotel after the city’s historic tornadoes. 

According to Haverstick, even the lamps are antiques. 

“Lighting is about [setting] the mood,” Haverstick explains. She says this is the reason Jay’s hasn’t evolved its interior into a bright, contemporary atmosphere. Haverstick says her father, Jay, envisioned a comfortable and relaxing dining experience and she plans on keeping it that way. 

By keeping her father’s vision of a historic restaurant alive, Haverstick has begun a second wave of family history and heritage she hopes to pass down to her daughter.

She is optimistic about her family’s future as she says, “I hope to continue to create those good memories in the Dayton area.”