Meet your Daytonian of the Week: The man behind-the-scenes of some of Dayton’s most popular restaurants

Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

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Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Meet Brian Johnson. He’s the guy who runs the strategic marketing operations for many of Dayton’s most popular restaurants.

Johnson spoke with us about life in Dayton, his inspiration, his work and a few tips for restaurant-goers.

Without further ado, your Daytonian of the Week.

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Combined ShapeCaption
Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Hi. My name is Brian and I’m somewhat of an introvert. More of a behind-the-scenes type guy, ya know? Though, I want to say “Thank You,” because if you’re a fan of anything related to Dayton’s food, art, music, or event scene, you’ve probably attended one of my client’s events, and that’s what it’s really all about. Supporting the community, building Dayton and showing the haters there’s more to do than they can possibly handle. This city is built on the backbone of the hardworking (and playing) entrepreneurs, creatives, inventors and citizens that Dayton’s history has spoken to for over 200 years.

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Tell us a little about you. Where did you grow up, attend high school, etc.?

I’m a homegrown, introverted, food and beverage lover that has been fortunate enough to connect with some of the most creative-minded clients and hardworking staffs around. Growing up in Beavercreek,I took a long sabbatical after high school to learn about art and design and experience life, food and anything I could.

You’re incredibly active in Dayton’s food scene. What got you so involved, and what drives your passion for the culinary business in the Gem City?

“Thriving” was so hard and didn’t really pay the bills, so as many in that position will find themselves, I picked up work in restaurants, working really hard to just keep it all afloat. This led to an unexpected love of food and beverage that has stuck with me for well over a decade. With this amount of time in restaurants, the seemingly simple line that divides average food and beverage from great culinary experiences reveals itself to be the true Sisyphus style mountain that it is.

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Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

What do you do, and what inspires your work?

Without constant reinvention, proactive creative sense, self critique and a truly oppressive amount of hard work that would break almost anyone, an independent restaurant will fall to the background, become dull and often fail to the sea of corporate restaurants with bloated marketing budgets and cheap pre-portioned frozen food.

That being said, most small restaurant owners can barely find enough hours in the day to manage staffing needs, food consistency and menu creations, restaurant repairs, taxes and payroll, legal issues, or any of the many other situations that chronically pop up, let alone devote time to their marketing efforts.

That’s where I come in. Rather than falling into the passive trap of only using traditional advertising outlets to hopefully grab someones eye, my team works to create more experience-based marketing efforts that fits our client’s brands and personalities.

From food truck rallies, to block parties, intimate tasting menus, or wine and liquor tastings, it’s all about making a connection with the customer in which they have an experience they’ll remember.

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Combined ShapeCaption
Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Tell us about some of your favorite things to do in Dayton:

The East Third Street Taco Trail: 

My good friend David Obenour turned me onto this one and while not technically a dedicated trail, it should be. You start by gathering a group of friends and drinking tequila at your house. Then you walk or uber over to the much loved Taqueria Mixteca (may I recommend trying the house made Taquitos?), then it’s about a total 30 - 45 minute walk time to your next three stop, Mobile Garcia Food Truck, Las Constanitas and Johnny’s Tortas. Then you head back home and finish your bottle of tequila and Mexican beers.

The River Sessions: 

We invented this one for our client, Adventures on the Great Miami, so while it may seem like self promotion it is truly soooo magical that it’s worth mentioning. Basically, we put two to three musicians on a giant 18-foot floating stand up paddle board and float 3.5 miles down the scenic Great Miami River with the audience floating along in kayaks, canoes, and rafts. A one-of-a-kind experience that a live music lover should not miss.

Create your own experiences! 

No seriously, do it. Some experiences are more fleeting in memory than others, but if you have something you're passionate about, I would highly recommend giving it a try as either your profession or hobby and inviting others along. It’s a VERY scary step to take and no, I am not going to promise you that it will work out. But you will find in Dayton, OH the community loves to see new and cool things happen. If what you’re doing is genuine, honest and put together with strong effort, you will realize what I similarly realized years ago: Dayton will support you.

It’s an experience you will not forget.

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Combined ShapeCaption
Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
Brian Johnson is this week's Daytonian of the Week. Johnson is the brains behind the strategic marketing for many of Dayton's most popular restaurants. He shares his work, inspiration and even a few restaurant going tips. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

What advice do you have for restaurant-goers in Dayton? 
We could all stand to be a little kinder and respectful of restaurant workers. It's a career choice that is thought of as "secondary" or a "pass through" job — one that some people see as a servant position than an actual career — when in reality it can be incredibly rewarding to learn about and serve great food and beverages.

Plus, you like to eat right?!

Pro tip: In a not-so-magical way, the overall restaurant experience is much better if you’re nice to staff and have a good attitude about going out to eat. Besides, the average human eats 77,197 meals in his/her life. This is just one and definitely not worth being grumpy about. Be sure to try this theory out sometime if you don’t already.

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And when it comes to online reviews, be wary about what you do with your online “stars.” Many times you may not be aware of all of the circumstances that surround a negative experience and EVERY TIME the management and owners greatly appreciate being approached directly about a problem rather than waking up to an unexpected 1 star that could have been avoided and/or addressed before you even left the building. “If you enjoyed yourself, tell everybody; if you didn’t, please tell us” is good advice to heed, and to allow for the management to try to fix the issue so you can leave happy, too.

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