Muffin Man ‘having the time of my life’ at Blueberry Cafe

Tony Darden’s talent kept muffins on the menu

BELLBROOK — He may not live on Drury Lane, but for the past three years the Muffin Man has delivered gourmet muffins to guests at Blueberry Cafe.

The Muffin Man, whose real name is Tony Darden, has cooked professionally for 36 years and it all began at a young age in his family’s kitchen.

“My mom’s such a great cook,” Darden said. “She and I’d often get together and do the family functions and the family reunions.”

Darden began his cooking career at Mom’s Bar-B-Q in Dayton, a restaurant his family operated. Since then, he has made the 30-minute drive from Dayton to Bellbrook.

The cafe was going to take muffins off the menu, because they were not selling well and the person who made the muffins left, the 52-year-old chef said. The experienced cook asked management if he could make the muffins and sell them, and the Muffin Man was born.

“Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, it’s time for the Muffin Man,” Darden says each time he delivers muffins to waiting customers. He even had a local community member volunteer to make him a custom Muffin Man hat to wear during his routine.

“People come here just to see him and see what muffins he’s cooked,” said General Manager Brian Johnson. “It comes off as real fun.”

It’s not just the muffins that make the small-town celebrity smile. The children are his favorite part about coming to work.

“To walk up and make a big to-do to them, and all of them get a free muffin from me,” Darden said. “To see those faces.”

On a regular weekend he expects to sell about 100 of his specialty muffins to happy customers.

Darden, who also works at Wellington Grille in Beavercreek, said his three favorite muffins are: The red velvet muffin topped with a Philadelphia cream cheese, cheesecake topping; the German chocolate, which is a German chocolate muffin covered with shaved coconut and topped with a cherry; and the pineapple upside down muffin.

The Muffin Man insists he takes muffin baking to “a whole ’nother level” and goes for the “wow” factor every time he turns on the oven.

“This is not a job at all,” said Darden. “I’m having the time of my life.”

About the Author