DAYTON EATS: Culp’s Café reopens offering a taste of Dayton History

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Within just a few hours of posting on Facebook on March 22 that Carillon Historical Park would be reopening Culp’s Café happy fans were celebrating.

“So glad to see this. Can’t wait to come for Breakfast again. So delicious.”

“Great news! Highly missed!”

“Yeehaw!! I missed you. See you in April.”

The 65-acre park unveiled the $9 million Winsupply Center of Leadership in November 2019, which included a brand new Culp’s Cafe and a massive multi-level banquet hall.

The popular cafe, which shuttered when the pandemic hit, remained closed long after other restaurants had returned to greeting customers.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Fans of the cafe who enjoyed the classic lunch counter vibe and simple, well-executed food have wondered what the future held for the spot that gave diners a trip back in time to turn of the century soda fountain shops slinging phosphates alongside satisfying sandwiches.

Wonder no more.

Culp’s is in a soft opening phase Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. as it ramps up to a Grand Re-Opening Event that will take place on April 4.

It’s a perfect time to welcome Culp’s back to the dining scene as patio season heats up. Remember I said this: Culp’s has a patio not to be missed.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

According to Dayton History, the Culp’s story dates back to 1902, “when Charlotte Gilbert Culp, a young West Dayton widow, began preparing baked goods for her six children to sell door-to-door. Soon, the Culp family opened a stand at the South Main Street Market before Charlotte’s eldest son, Howard, expanded the business into the Arcade—selling poultry, eggs, cheese, and dill pickles at three lunch counters. In the 1930s, the Culps opened a full Arcade cafeteria; by the 1940s, they were serving as many as 5,000 customers a day.”

While Culp’s was sold in 1960, the spirit of the family-owned restaurant is back and open for business at Carillon Historical Park offering a medley of delicious breakfast platters, sandwiches, soups, salads, and classic soda fountain favorites. It’s not an expansive menu, but having dined there many times before it closed in 2020, has some delightful gems that combined with the setting and vibe elevate the entire experience to something that satisfies on many levels.

Some dishes not to miss ahead at Culp’s Cafe

Corned Beef Hash & Eggs ($14): I am of the opinion that you can’t go wrong with good corned beef. That combined with breakfast is a complete and total win. House-made corned beef, seasoned potatoes, green peppers, and onion are cooked up and served alongside two eggs, any style, with your choice of buttermilk drop biscuit or toast.

Egg White Frittata ($12): For those looking for something significantly lighter than corned beef, there’s a classic Italian-style frittata made with baby spinach, wild mushrooms, onion and tomato topped with fresh mozzarella.

Culp’s Café Platter ($12): Crispy breakfast potatoes are mixed with ham, cheddar cheese, red and green peppers, onion, and mushrooms. Topped with two eggs, any style, and finished with homemade sausage gravy. It’s a serious way to start a big day or help cure a previous day of bad decision making.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Chicken & Waffles ($12): Henny Penny’s fried chicken is served alongside Belgian waffles sprinkled with powdered sugar and warm syrup. Choice of house-made maple or Cajun spiced syrup. Go Cajun for the extra kick.

Potato Leek Soup ($4 for a cup, $7 for a bowl): As we continue to navigate the multiple winters and springs of Ohio, this is a perfect hearty soup to warm up with on a cold day. Topped with crispy onion straws it pairs the creamy, smooth flavorful soup with a little touch of crunch for good measure.

Culp’s Smash Burger ($14): A new addition to the menu, this sandwich features two smash patties with caramelized onions, burger sauce, American cheese, lettuce, and tomato on a toasted brioche bun. I’ll be seeking this out first when I get over there.

Chicken Salad Sandwich ($10): This sandwich features Rike’s Department Stores traditional pecan chicken salad recipe served with lettuce and tomato on toasted bread.

Instead of being served at tables, guests will order at the counter, grab a number and a server will deliver their meals. For a memorable experience dine in the restored 1903 Barney & Smith Interurban railcar that is the centerpiece of the room. It’s a perfect spot for that early breakfast meeting or lunch date where you want to add just one more touch of memorable magic to a setting that starts to deliver as soon as you set foot in it.

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How to go

What: Culp’s Café Grand Re-Opening

Where: 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. April 4

Admission: Free, enter through Kettering Family Education Center

Make a day of it: The nearby Carillon Brewing Company offers a glimple of 1850s Dayton, 50 years before Culp’s with authentically prepared food and drink. It’s open Wednesady through Sunday from 11 a.m.-7. p.m. Between Culp’s and the Brewing Company you can make a day of it on a Saturday. It’s the perfect way to welcome spring as more and more good weather dates start to appear.

More information: 937-293-2841 or

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