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Century Bar could be movin’ on up — literally

Dayton’s oldest bar planning expansion, but it’s not a done deal yet. 

The co-owner of one of downtown Dayton’s most celebrated establishments says the i's have not been dotted and the t's have not been crossed on a plan that would see the business move and more than double its size. 

Joe Head of the Century Bar, 10 S. Jefferson St., said that media reports about the business’ expansion into a space next door are premature.

 

“No papers have been signed,” Head said of the idea that would see the bar move into the former Dayton Power and Light Building at 18 to 20 S. Jefferson St. “We are close, but we’ve been close before.”

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If a deal is reached, the first floor of the building would be the new home of the Century Bar, downtown Dayton’s oldest bar. 

“The move would double our occupancy in the Century (part of the building) alone,” Head said.  

The new space would have 150 seats. The current space is about 1,700 square feet and has about 75 seats. 

The bar is often filled to capacity. 

Head estimated the three-story Dayton Power and Light building is at least 9,000 square feet. 

>> Dayton bakery open less than 5 months named ‘Best Pie Shop in Ohio’ 

The building is in a 0.701 acre space, according to the Montgomery County Auditors website. 

Head said the second floor of the bar’s new building would hold a separate cocktail and wine lounge, if plans move forward. 

The third floor would eventually house event space.  

Head said a deal for the space could be reached as early as this week with Fire Blocks District developer Windsor Companies. 

DOWNTOWN’S OLDEST BAR 

The Century Bar is in talks to move a door down to 18 S. Jefferson in downtown Dayton. (Amelia Robinson)

The Century Bar has developed a reputation among the best bourbon bars in the nation. 

In August, it was named one of America’s 100 Best Bourbon bars by The Bourbon Review for a sixth consecutive year. 

>> RELATED: Century Bar scores yet ANOTHER national shout-out for its bourbon-bar excellence

The Century dates back to 1942 under that name and in that location.

The location’s history as a bar dates back even before then. 

Steffen’s, a male-only “coffee shop,” opened three years after the Great Dayton Flood of 1913. 

>> What are the oldest bars in downtown Dayton?

KETTE’S PLAN CRUMBLES 

Kette & Sons Rye Whiskey Distillery was established at the site in the 1890s and lasted until the flood. 

The Century Bar’s plans to open Kette's Kandies Spirited Treats, a Prohibition-era speakeasy-themed cocktail bar, never came to fruition as the Fire Blocks project fluttered under The Ellway Group, its former developer. 

The Century Bar is in talks to move a door down to 18 S. Jefferson in downtown Dayton. (Amelia Robinson)

>> RELATED: Port Authority votes to boost Fire Blocks: ‘This project is moving forward’

Windsor took over what had been a stalled development last summer, reportedly hoping to reinvigorate commercial and residential work on both sides of Third Street between St. Clair and Jefferson streets.

>> BACKGROUND: New Fire Blocks developer starts work on $35M project

The projected new site is between the Century’s current building and the headquarters of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Miami Valley, 22 S. Jefferson St.

THE NEXT CENTURY?

Head said developers have expressed interest in using the Century’s current space as part of a restaurant. 

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If the deal is reached, Head said the Century could quickly move into the new space. 

“We are not going to change anything. It is going to be the same decor, the same colors,” Head said. “We just want to make the Century more functional.” 

A special bourbon bar would be added for “bourbon nerds.”

“We are moving 16 feet away,” Head said. “If you are ever going to move, this is the best way to do it.”

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