Memories of The Barnsider will linger as it closes its doors for the final time this Saturday, after 41 years in business.
It’s perhaps the first place I ate that had cloth napkins and definitely the only restaurant elegant enough for a coat check that I went to while growing up, but The Barnsider was worth such sacrifices. I was willing to put on a clean pair of clothes and act refined for a meal at The Barnsider, including a bite of my dad’s prime rib. Many Dayton residents have fond memories of The Barnsider from its 41 years in business, and much like the flavor of its spicy cocktail sauce, the memories of the restaurant will also linger as it closes its doors for the final time on Saturday, May 14.
The Barnsider was opened in 1975 by Mary Seto Miller, from Hong Kong, and her business partner (and brother) Eddie Lee. From the very beginning, The Barnsider specialized in steaks, chops, and seafood. Their prime rib was highly regarded as among the best in the Miami Valley, though a bad choice could not be made with anything on the menu. For starters, the French Onion Soup was a must, topped with crunchy croutons and a thick layer of cheese. I don’t even like onions, but could devour a bowl of the French Onion Soup.
The daughter of Miller, Kelley Seto Andary, grew up in The Barnsider as she worked there every night and has fond memories of all the loyal patrons. “We had the best customers in the world. I’ve seen multi-million dollar deals made over martinis and bone in Prime Rib. I’ve seen first dates and marriage proposals over escargot and bottles of wine. I’ve seen prom dates turned into rehearsal dinners turned into baby showers. How amazing is that?” Andary posted on her Facebook page.
My family celebrated several occasions through the years at The Barnsider, and every year the walk up that steep hill in the parking lot seemed to get a little longer. It was my favorite exercise spot. I could almost roll down it on my way out due to being stuffed so full. The meals were always satisfying, especially with the addition of the shrimp cocktail, French Onion Soup, and a salad topped with homemade dressings, there was hardly room left for the main course, but the succulent flavors could not be denied.
A special effort was made to give The Barsnider a comfortable atmosphere with dim lighting and soft colors that encouraged diners to relax and enjoy their stay. The legacy of fine dining establishments that Miller and her family started with The Barnsider continues with their reigns over Harrison’s in Tipp City, The Wellington Grille in Beavercreek, and The Blue Berry Café in Bellbrook.
Andary is very gracious for the support given to The Barnsider through the years and all the customers who made it such a big part of her personal history. “My family and I would like to thank you for being a part of our lives. The Barnsider was more than just a restaurant to many. We are looking forward to the time freedom this will give my mom and uncle and we are so thankful for the memories that we will forever have,” she said.
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.