Pine Club’s ‘#2 Steakhouse in America’ award has had lasting impact

More than 5 months later, business is booming, and sales of featured menu item are up five-fold

The Food Network's declaration more than five months ago that The Pine Club is the no. 2 steakhouse in America has had a dramatic impact on the restaurant's business that extends to this day.

“I expected the bump would last three weeks or so” after the segment aired, said Pine Club owner David Hulme.

Instead, business has continued to surge. Between July 1 and late December, the restaurant is running about 35 percent ahead of last year in both customer counts and dollar sales, Hulme said. And sales of the Pine Club’s bone-in ribeye steak — the menu item singled out in the Food Network’s episode — are up five-fold in the second half of the year, Hulme said.

The story proved to be wildly popular on Facebook. When the Dayton Daily News and WHIO Facebook pages broke the news first, those posts and follow-up stories attracted a combined 10,000-plus “likes” and were shared more than 4,000 times.

The steakhouse, which opened in 1947 at 1926 Brown Street near the University of Dayton, has attracted an unusually large number of first-time visitors since the Food Network story aired the first week of July, “and many of them have returned several times and ended up opening house accounts,” Hulme said. The restaurant does not accept credit cards, and also does not take reservations.

Hulme said he called the Food Network several weeks after the show aired to try to find out how his restaurant made the best-steakhouse list. “They wouldn’t tell me a thing,” he said.

The Pine Club has scored other media recognition in recent years. In December 2013, the restaurant was included in a list of “10 of the World’s Greatest Old Dining Institutions” by a writer for T Magazine, the New York Times style magazine, joining restaurants in Paris, London, and New York City. Six months earlier, Michael Stern, co-author of “Roadfood,” identified the Pine Club as his favorite steakhouse in the country in a USA Today story.

“I view this as validation not just for the Pine Club, but for the Dayton community,” Hulme said.

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