The Trolley Stop has been part of Dayton’s local tradition since 1839.
By Ginny McCabe
Located in Dayton’s Oregon District, The Trolley Stop is a historic gem that dates back to the 1800s. In keeping with that long-standing tradition, the establishment continues to pride itself on offering many of the same amenities it was built upon—good beer, good food and good people.
Today, guests continue to enjoy fresh, homemade food from local vendors, friendly service in a casual atmosphere and live music, along with a quality selection of cocktails, beers and craft beers.
“This place was built in 1839 and it became a saloon in the 1880s, so it’s been in business 140 years,” says owner Robin Sassenberg, who runs The Trolley Stop with her husband, Chris. “When we bought it it had already been The Liquor Room, The Ace Bar and Restaurant, The Pickle Barrel and The Trolley Stop.”
Over the course of its history the location at 530 E. Fifth St. was also once used as a residence, a shoeshine shop and a barbershop, as well as a tavern. The Sassenbergs have served as the owners of The Trolley Stop for 23 years.
“As The Trolley Stop, when we bought it, it just featured good beer, good food and good people,” Sassenberg says.
Kitchen hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The bar is open until 2 a.m. Brunch is offered on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brunch features everything from a classic breakfast and biscuits and gravy to rustic chorizo hash and more. There’s also a bloody mary and mimosa bar with plenty of garnishes and ad-ons.
“We’re casual, we’re free spirited and we like to laugh and have a good time. I think my job here is to make sure it still stays old-fashioned because its identity is old,” Sassenberg says.
Honoring the rich history, The Trolley Stop’s bar has been featured in many movies, such as the recently released independent film, We’re Doing Fine and Blue Car. The bar has also been featured in a Web series titled “We’re Here Now.” Many students from Wright State University have filmed their projects at The Trolley Stop.
“The character of the building is very apparent and filmmakers use it,” Sassenberg says.
Robin, a former nurse, oversees the day-to-day operations, and Chris assists with tasks like running errands and planning. The Trolley Stop also employs 20-25 employees.
“From the chef to the servers and the cleaning guy they are all unique, interesting and well educated. We have teachers that work here, helicopter mechanics and cosmetologists. They are all funny and smart,” she says.
Just as the building’s heritage and rich history allow you to go back in time, the menu includes several more traditional items like The Trolley Turkey, a favorite that came with the place. The Trolley Turkey features deli turkey, provolone, tomato, onion, mayo and fresh cole slaw on an onion bun.
The menu has also expanded to include an array of contemporary offerings. A few of the popular menu items include grass-fed beef burgers, featuring beef from local farms and red beans & rice made with Louisiana-style red beans, rice and KJB Farms andouille sausage.
The Hippy Stacker with chicken breast, bacon, avocado slices, swiss cheese, herb mayo, lettuce and tomato on toasted whole wheat bread is always in demand.
“We’ve introduced the pulled pork sandwich, and our own black bean burgers. We also make our own seitan, which is a nonmeat protein. We like to have a wide variety of American-type food,” Sassenberg says.
They use sausage, eggs and chicken from KJB Farms. Other local farms also supply them with produce.
“We focus on buying local, we are fiercely independent, we use natural and organic ingredients when possible. We focus on nutrition and real ingredients. There’s no fryer or bar food here,” Sassenberg says.
Another great option we tried was the pear & craisin salad. The salad features poached pears, salad mix, dried cranberries, spiced pecans and Fuji apple vinaigrette.
We also sampled several new dishes upon Sassenberg’s recommendation, including the pork carnitas tacos, a vegan barbecue seitan-wich and ratatouille and polenta with chicken. All of the choices were delicious and prepared fresh with local, organic ingredients. There were other tasty choices—too many to name.
Additionally, The Trolley Stop features a kid’s menu, a nonalcoholic beverage selection and a variety of side items, including jasmine rice pilaf and potato soup.
The Trolley Stop has indoor seating in a dining room, bar seating and outdoor patio seating. We were seated on the patio when we visited. It was comfortable and relaxed with wrought-iron tables and chairs. Free Wi-Fi and nearby parking are also available.
For music lovers like myself, The Trolley Stop has live music on Fridays and Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. There is also an acoustic jam night on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m.
The bottom line is don’t miss the opportunity to check out The Trolley Stop. It won’t be long before you become a regular customer. Guests will enjoy a great dining experience while being surrounded by The Trolley Stop’s rich history.