Stealing away to do dining reviews for the Dayton Daily News can be challenging. With two professional women’s schedules, child care issues and laundry, we’re lucky to find time, together after work, to complete our culinary calling.
Finding time on a dark and terribly cold Tuesday night, we decided to review one of the new local breweries, Warped Wing Brewing Company on Wyandot Street in downtown Dayton. Your Divas were looking forward to imbibing on brews and enjoying a bit of banter.
As we pulled up to the place, we noticed a dark color inside. No lights.
Sandy: “Ehm, Connie, they’re closed!”
Sandy: “It’s dark.”
This mindless back and forth went on for way too long, approximately 15 seconds. Distressed, your Divas decided on Plan B, dashing down Wilmington Pike, undaunted, to drink at another local beer-maker, Eudora Brewing.
Traveling down this major thoroughfare, checking the passing addresses against the paper numbers like the old days, while tracking the scent of hops and malts, we determined the location and whipped into the parking lot.
Connie: “It’s closed!”
Remember, it was a Tuesday night. Your Divas are quickly learning that Breweries Tasting Rooms are not bars, not open at all hours and complete with bartenders ready to hear your sob stories.
Sandy: “OK, I got one more. If that’s closed, I’m going home.” I had laundry.
We retraced some of our steps, and headed towards The Dayton Beer Company on Dorothy Lane.
Sandy: “If they’re closed, I’ll (expletive)!”
Connie: “If they’re closed, I’ll also (expletive)!”
As the late-model SUV slipped into the first parking spot, right in front, it didn’t take long to notice a familiar look. Dark. Plenty of open parking.
Connie: “Maybe we shoulda called first!???”
Sandy: “Now that would have made sense. That is advice my mother always gave, which I always ignore.”
Practically starving, mostly dehydrated, and reminding ourselves that finding time on our mutual calendars is difficult, we posed one other option.
Let’s just eat somewhere.
Now sometimes, Connie shows up for a Dining Diva date dressed like a bona fide grownup. She would fit in anywhere we choose. Tonight, however, she’s dressed like a groupie for Pablo Cruise: long-sleeve long johns under a rock ‘n roll tank top, rock ‘n roll necklace and cascading-all-over-the-place Meg Ryan hair.
The Pine Club was out.
Sandy: “Have you ever been to Kramers Tavern?”
Connie: “No. What’s that?”
Sandy: “Oh, my. You have lived here over 20 years, and you haven’t been to Kramers?” (I didn’t really say “oh my.” Nobody really says that in real life. But it looks good in print.)
Connie: “Stop judging and let’s go!”
Taking the back roads, we steered the salt-covered SUV into a warm and inviting Kramers parking lot, at 1018 Irving Ave., just up from the University of Dayton Campus.
Before the gas-guzzler could be turned off, Connie bolted from the front seat and pranced knee deep in the pristine, crunchy snow pack to shoot a photo of the Kramer’s sign. Unsurprisingly, her unusual trek drew attention from the men inside Kramers who were trading war stories and wondering why a Pablo Cruise groupie would be in the snow taking a picture of the Kramers’ sign.
The place: Kramers Tavern, a local gathering place for over 75 years on Irving Avenue near the University of Dayton.
It has a quaint 1970s basement feel. Orange naugahyde bench booths originally from a Hardee’s restaurant that closed decades ago are surrounded by paneling. The neon sign-filled main bar is better lit than most bars you visit. It gives it a fresh feel, in its vintage coolness. Framed University of Dayton sports glory, photos of Kramer’s fans and years of neighborhood fun take up every inch of wall space.
Sandy practiced her numbers and counted 25 bar seats and about 36 booth style places to plop down for their popular pizza. Another 30 or so chairs & tables make Kramers a place where finding a spot to sit easy.
First things first. Beverages. Nobody in Dayton has more quarts and 40-ounce bottles of beer than Kramers, but your Dining Divas chose to enjoy their libations out of petite 12-ounce bottles. Being in a nostalgic mood in an ultra-cool spot, Sandy bellied-up and ordered her daddy’s favorite Stroh’s. Connie sipped on a Guinness while checking out the wooden telephone booths in the back of the dining room as if she were in an art gallery.
Menu: Look to the top of the wall, above the bar, and choose your pizza size and ingredients.
Pizzas come in 7 inch ($7.00), 12 inch ($11.95), and 16 inch($15.95) sizes. Dine in or carry out. Typical topping choices include pepperoni, sausage, onions, black olives, green peppers, banana peppers and mushrooms.
What we expected: Kramers’ pizza is memorable and amazing. Thick, chewy, perfectly baked to the point where the cheese is starting to brown and get a little crisp in spots. Very fulfilling. Pizza sauce is always one of the most important ingredients, and Kramers’ is perfectly balanced. It doesn’t overpower the flavor. We ordered a deluxe pizza that came out hot. With quite a bit of fanfare, our bartender/waiter cautioned us to “wait five minutes” before taking a bite, as it’s so hot. Once again, Sandy doesn’t listen and burned the roof of her mouth.
After Sandy’s encounter, Connie had better sense than to bite into her first piece without blowing on it for a while, then waving it in the air for good measure.
What we didn’t expect: To be set smack-dab in the middle of the University of Dayton Varsity D Club’s monthly board meeting. These former athletes conducted some serious beer-and-pizza business next to us, and we were invited to join the conversation with Artie Camacho; Mike Kundert UD Class of ’74; Steve Siewe UD Class of ’74; Ron Florhe UD Class of ’81; Dan Andrick UD Class of ’69; Gary McCans UD Class of ’68; Kevin Jones OSU Class of ‘86.
Being unsure if the warmth of Kramers comes from the furnace or all the hot air expelled from these jocks, one thing is sure — despite a concrete floor, Kramers’ was toasty on a frigid winter’s night.
The place: Kramers Tavern, 1018 Irving Ave., Dayton, OH, 45419 (937) 294-9141. Note: It’s CASH ONLY, but there’s an ATM only a few feet from the bar.
Hours: Monday, 4 p.m. - 1 a.m.; Tuesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. - 1 a.m.; Sunday, noon - 1 a.m.
The places we tried but were closed:
27 Wyandot, Dayton, 45402
Wed - Thu: 5 - 10 p.m.
Fri: 4 p.m. - midnight
Sat: 2 p.m. - midnight
Sun: 1 - 6 p.m.
4716 Wilmington Pike, Kettering, 45440
Thurs: 5:30-11 p.m.
Fri: 3-11 p.m.
Sat: Noon-11 p.m.
Sun: 1-6 p.m.
THE DAYTON BEER COMPANY, 912 E. Dorothy Lane, Kettering 45419; www.TheDaytonBeerCompany.com
Wed-Fri: 4-10 p.m.
Sat: 2-10 p.m.
Taking note of these breweries’ hours, we promise we’ll be back, when they’re open!
Post Script: Connie Post of the Dayton Daily News and Sandy Collins of News Talk Radio WHIO (95.7 FM/AM 1290) are two of our Dining Divas. When they’re not reviewing Dayton’s best fare, they’re doing laundry. Email your comments to The DDN’s Dining Divas at email@example.com. What is your favorite place for pizza?