Guy Fragmin brings West Virginia pepperoni rolls to his 416 Diner.
By Ginny McCabe
Located at 416 E. Fifth St. in Dayton’s Oregon District (in the building of the former 5th Street Wine & Deli space,) the 416 Diner has opened to rave reviews. The restaurant prides itself on offering “high-quality comfort food all day in the downtown Dayton area.” Starting with the restaurant’s signature 416 Diner Pepperoni Rolls to the countless breakfast, lunch and dinner items on the menu, it’s easy to see why.
“We’ve been getting amazing reviews. The people talk about things I expected them to talk about. They talk about the cleanliness of the facility, they talk about the comfort food that we have. They love, love, love the pepperoni rolls, and the Potato Twist seems to be a strong lead item, too,” says owner Guy Fragmin.
Fragmin, who formerly worked at a local marketing company, says he saw an opportunity to fulfill his dream. In talking with him, you can tell he has put a lot of thought, care, energy and enthusiasm in every detail—from the name, staff and décor to each item on the menu. He doesn’t mind working 10- to 12-hour days.
“I was in the advertising industry for the last 20 years. I worked for The Berry Company here in town that is now Vivial…I’ve always wanted to do this exact thing. I purchased the building in 2005 with the intentions of doing this and I rented out the space to the 5th Street Wine and Deli that was in here before,” Fragmin says.
‘‘When the 5th Street Wine & Deli decided they were moving on I just moved everything forward and took it upon myself to open my dream,’’ he says.
When asked how things are going so far, he says, “Really well. The patio and the serving window did amazing in the spring and the summer.”
During the winter months the restaurant offers indoor dining hours Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday, 9 a.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday 8 a.m.-1 a.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. It is closed on Tuesdays.
“I love our late-night crowd. They’re so fun. It’s a fantasy for me. It’s a dream come true,” Fragmin says.
Fragmin, a West Virginia native, is a hands-on owner, who says he’s willing to do every job in the restaurant.
“I’m a busboy, maître d’ and I cook if I need to. I love every aspect, and I’ve done everything,” he says.
He says his family knows it’s a lot of work, but they are proud of the fact that he brought pepperoni rolls to Ohio. “In West Virginia pepperoni rolls are a staple food. It’s everywhere. It’s in gas stations and grocery stores. In Ohio they weren’t anywhere. So, to bring that product here was amazing,” Fragmin says.
When asked what guests love about the 416 Diner pepperoni rolls, he says it’s the “simplicity of them. It’s pepperoni with Italian bread.”
“People in Ohio, specifically, love putting toppings on them. They put provolone cheese, marinara sauce, even chili, onions and peppers on them. It’s become a really fun staple,” Fragmin says.
The 416 Diner pepperoni rolls are available in quantities of one or two. One is $3.50, or two for $6. (There’s also a pepperoni omelet on the breakfast menu for $8.)
Another popular menu item, which I tried, is the Hunter Hoagie. It sells for $9.50 and is served with chips and a pickle spear. You can also substitute the Potato Twist for $1.59. I substituted the Potato Twist and both were delicious. Whether you order for lunch, dinner or a late-night meal I would highly recommend them.
The menu describes the Hunter Hoagie like this, “Grilled ribeye and marinated chicken are brought together then grilled to perfection, covered with both cheddar and provolone and served with leaf lettuce, fresh tomato, red onion and mayo.”
For breakfast, biscuits and gravy are a hit. They are made fresh every day. As far as establishing a menu Fragmin says he worked with his kitchen manager, Andrew Modras. They started with the idea of comfort food and built the menu from there.
“I wanted to carve out my own niche, my own product. One of those is pepperoni rolls, and so on, and so forth,” he says.
The 5th Street Wine & Deli operated its business from the location for 10 years. Fragmin says he has lived in the downtown Dayton area since 2005.
“My family has had bars and restaurants in West Virginia. So, growing up, I was always a part of those, and I loved the atmosphere, loved the people, and I just love serving great food,” Fragmin says.
The restaurant officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 7. With an open kitchen, the 1,400-square-foot restaurant seats about 36 guests in the dining room. The dining room has a combination of booth and counter seating. Each of the booths and counter stools have an electrical outlet, which allows customers to charge their phones. Additional seating is available on the outdoor patio.
It was absolutely designed with that diner feel. “I wanted to bring that up (a notch),” Fragmin says, “People have called it ‘modern-traditional,’ and ‘industrial.’”
The restaurant’s 13 full-time and part-time staff range from students at Sinclair Community College and Wright State to workers who have been in the food industry for years.
Fragmin says he loves his staff, the customers and the fact that people really enjoy being here.
“I believe because of the good reviews I get a lot of out-of-towners and people that are traveling through. I also have guests from the Oregon District as well as people from all over the city who have come in. I have a strong returning customer base, too. Being five months in, we have a lot of regulars that just love the food,” Fragmin says.