Why this Dayton bar decided not to close its doors

Michael Shubert, owner of the Red Carpet Tavern in Dayton. PHOTO BY JIM INGRAM/STAFF
Michael Shubert, owner of the Red Carpet Tavern in Dayton. PHOTO BY JIM INGRAM/STAFF

The Dayton area has seen its fair share of bars change hands or go under altogether in recent years. That's why it's noteworthy that The Red Carpet Tavern at 3301 Wayne Ave. in Belmont has stayed open under the same ownership the last nine years.

But that winning streak nearly came to an end recently.

“I was considering selling. Somebody made an offer and I thought about it,” says owner and lifelong Belmont resident Michael Shubert. “I decided to stay mainly because of the people here.”

The spend-money-to-make-money adage in business held true for Shubert when he bought the business in 2007. Starting out at the beginning of the recession was hard enough, but Shubert was also dealing with waiting months for a liquor license while only serving beer and wine.

Inside was a completely different look and atmosphere, with Shubert spending plenty to make it a more inviting and comfortable place to socialize with a beverage or two.

“We gutted it,” he remembers. “We took out the booths. I didn’t like them because you couldn’t see the person next to you.”

The old bar itself was ripped out and replaced with a comforting remembrance from Dayton’s dining past. Portions of the bar from the long-departed Dominic’s restaurant (formerly on South Main Street), were fitted into place in a U-shaped setup.

The Red Carpet’s menu also relives some Dayton dining history.

“We have a garden salad with house dressing similar to Duke’s (also formerly of South Main Street) and Dominic’s,” Shubert says.

And he’s not lying. Anyone who loved those dressings owes it to themselves to give the dressing at The Red Carpet a shot.

Shubert also claims the best fish sandwich in town, featuring seafood options Thursdays through Saturdays, while also being boastful about his chili, while the burgers are served fresh and never frozen.

It was nearly five years before the business, affectionately known by some regs as “the Carpet”, began to thrive with Shubert making improvements all the while.

“I think the (new) patio helped. We can have about 20 or 25 people out there at a time,” he says.

Sure enough, a new crowd started coming. And Shubert loves that crowd, knowing most of them by name. On the walls, next to pictures of his daughter and father, are obituary clippings of customers who’ve passed away.

“It’s a ‘Cheers’ bar. We get people who live in the neighborhood and come down and say they’ve been here for years and never been in before. But once they come in, they’ll come back,” Shubert says.

And that’s a big part of the reason Shubert himself decided not to leave.

“The Red Carpet is a tavern where great customers make this bar. In my mind, I think I’ll stick around for a good while longer.”