Forget the vinyl-upholstered booths, screaming children, and scrambled eggs hardening on a sad buffet—that era of hotel dining is blessedly over.
These days, it’s all about celebrating community with farm-fresh, local dishes and inventive cocktails that capture the spirit of their surroundings for enjoyment by visitors from near and far. At least, that was Devin Duncan’s vision when he came on board as director of food and beverage for Dewberry 1850, a modern-rustic affair located inside the Dayton Marriott.
“Our mission isn’t just to change what it means to dine in a hotel. We want to change what it means to love a community and give back as much as possible.”
Following a $23 million renovation, the restaurant’s name and farmhouse branding nod to the land on which it sits; Dewberry Farms was purchased in 1850 to build what is now the University of Dayton. “We’re right on the corner of campus, so we see visitors from all over the world,” says Duncan. “Our job is to give them a taste of all the amazing food and drink Dayton has to offer.”
To better serve in that role, Duncan travels as much as he can, paying close attention to how hotel restaurants and bars in particular represent their surrounding communities. “So far, I haven’t seen many that are doing things quite like we are,” he says. “We’re taking the best of local flavors that you can’t find anywhere else and blending them in a unique, fun setting.”
In one example of a truly unique offering, Rooted Grounds Coffee Company in West Chester, Ohio invited Dewberry 1850 to create its own signature roast for coffees and espressos that pair perfectly with decadent challah bread, flaky croissants, and gooey pastries from Phileo Artisan bakery. Lunch and dinner menus rotate based on availability of meats and produce that 20-plus-year kitchen veteran and executive chef Tim Tim Skiber sources through Local Food Connection. New-American creations like the Chicken and Waffle Taco, Stuffed Grilled Cheese, and Blueberry-BBQ Beef Brisket are the stars of a menu rounded out by a bevy of interesting craft cocktails, plus the 10 or more local beers on tap at any given time.
Speaking of beer, Dewberry 1850 partners with a different local brewery every other month to host six-course “beer dinners” complementing creations from Warped Wing Brewery, The Dayton Beer Company, Yellow Springs Brewery, and others. Sometimes the dinners take place at the hotel; other times guests venture to the nearby breweries. The series boasts a growing following made up of Dayton residents and visitors alike.
Along with its partner organizations in the Miami Valley Restaurant Association, Dewberry 1850 regularly participate in food-and-drink-themed festivals and events in support of local charities and other community efforts. For example, a recent Dayton Strong Beer Bash raised money for victims of the tornadoes that ripped through Dayton on Memorial Day. “Our mission isn’t just to change what it means to dine in a hotel,” says Duncan. “We want to change what it means to love a community and give back as much as possible.”
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