The Pine Club meal, including its signature onion rings. 2008 staff file photo by Lisa Powell
Photo: Lisa Powell
Photo: Lisa Powell

Pine Club history: 5 quirky facts about Dayton’s iconic steakhouse

The Pine Club has been a tradition for generations of Daytonians. 

Great steaks, waitresses with character, and an old-school atmosphere have contributed to its longevity. 

Here are 5 things to know about Dayton’s iconic steakhouse: 

>>BREAKING NEWS: Pine Club sold

1. Name change

Jim Sullivan bought a place called Lonnie’s Bar on Brown Street in 1947. He installed pine paneling on the walls and renamed it the Pine Club. 

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A view of the Pine Club in 1958. DAYTON DAILY NEWS / WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

2. Hurry up and wait

Waiting for a table is an established tradition at the Pine Club. Lloyd Meinzer, who bought the restaurant in 1953, once told the Dayton Daily News: 

“I wouldn’t add a chair if you fixed it up and gave it to me. A customer who goes into a dining room that is half full is thinking negatively. If there’s a long waiting list, he’s saying, ‘Gee, the food must be good here.’” 

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3. Steadfast rules

The Pine Club never takes reservations. Ever. And they don’t take credit cards. 

>>Dayton woman ate at Pine Club with her Aunt Barbara and Uncle George

4. No sweets

The Pine Club doesn’t serve dessert. “Honey, we got enough trouble with the steaks and the potatoes,” a waitress joked with Dayton Daily News food writer Ann Heller in 1978. 

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Pine Club owner Lloyd Meinzer in 1978. DAYTON DAILY NEWS / WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

5. Secret to sitting down

Vice President George Bush cracked the code for getting a table without a wait during a campaign visit in 1988. “The Secret Service came in about a half hour to 45 minutes before the vice president,” said then assistant manager Dan Nooe. “They put in his name. The Secret Service waited for him.”

>> BEST OF DAYTON WINNERS: Best classic restaurant | Best fine dining 

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