5 inspiring stories about how some of Dayton’s beloved businesses got their starts

Dayton has always been known as a city of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Here’s a look at how five long-time, homegrown businesses got their start:

Dorothy Lane Market

One of Dayton’s most recognized businesses got its start on the corner of Far Hills Avenue and Dorothy Lane.

Frank Sakada and Calvin Mayne opened a produce stand at the intersection in 1948, and the location lent itself to the name of the store: Dorothy Lane Market.

Photographs of the original wood frame store show flats of flowers and crates of pineapples among the produce for sale out front and watermelons piled high to the side. “Fine Foods” were touted on the sign above the door.

Today the gourmet market is owned and operated by Mayne’s descendants and has three locations, the original spot in Oakwood, Washington Twp. and Springboro.

Cassano’s Pizza King

Vic Cassano Sr., the son of Italian immigrants, and his mother-in-law, Caroline “Mom” Donisi, started Dayton’s first pizza shop from the back of a Kettering grocery store.

Originally called “Vic & Mom’s,” Cassano’s Pizza King opened in a 20-by-15-foot room at West Schantz Avenue and Patterson Boulevard in 1953. “Mom” Donisi and Cassano’s wife, Anne, stayed up late rolling dough, slicing pepperoni and making tomato sauce.

Today the restaurant chain is run by the third generation of the family (READ MORE on Cassano's history).

Bimm Fireproof Warehouse

If you owned a grand piano, glamorous furs, or valuable paintings in the early 1900s, you would only entrust their care to Bimm Fireproof Warehouse.

The business was the brainchild of two Dayton brothers, Joseph and Henry Bimm, the sons of Ezra Bimm, a prominent Dayton businessman.

The brothers built their state-of-the art building, constructed out of reinforced concrete and embedded with eight tons of steel within 16-inch-thick concrete walls and floors, near the Miami and Erie Canal, the railroad line and Dayton’s downtown.

Families shipping their belongings to fast-growing Dayton by train or canal boat would find the Bimm Fireproof Warehouse on arrival and store their household goods while searching for a home to settle in.

Today the business is called Lincoln Storage and Moving and continues to keep Dayton's valuables safe (READ MORE on the Bimm Fireproof Warehouse).

Marion’s Piazza

Marion Glass, a scrappy local kid who as a youngster sold peanuts and soda at baseball games, opened the first Marion’s Piazza, a staple of Dayton dining, on Aug. 19, 1965.

Glass initially got into the pizza business as the owner of three Cassano’s pizza franchises. But he had his own ideas. “I felt that it was time to have a dining room pizza house,” he said.

The community had never seen a restaurant like the one at 460 Patterson Rd. in Dayton, where a large deluxe pizza cost $2.50. The restaurant had seating for 200, four pizza ovens and the largest walk-in cooler in town, according to a 1965 article in the Dayton Herald.

Dayton fell in love with thin crust and square-cut pizza. Today the business has nine locations in the Dayton area. Founder Marion Glass died at age 92 in 2006. Today his son Roger Glass runs the business (READ MORE on Marion's Piazza history).

Esther Price

Dayton’s favorite chocolate got its start in a high school home economics class.

Seventh grade student Esther Price learned how to make fudge in that class and returned home with a zeal for candy making.

Price continued to make chocolate at home and shared it with co-workers at Rikes, a downtown Dayton department store. They loved the sweets so much they encouraged Price to start her own business in 1926.

In 1952, Price opened her first store on Wayne Avenue using local dairy cream and butter to make her creations.

In 1976, Price sold her company to four Cincinnati businessmen. Today Jim Day, one of the businessmen, and his family continue to operate the company with six retail stores (READ MORE on Esther Price history).

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