Bar & Bistro at Top of the Market a welcome addition to Dayton’s dining scene

The Bar and Bistro at Top of the Market is housed in a 106-year-old converted freight depot that was originally part of Webster Station. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
The Bar and Bistro at Top of the Market is housed in a 106-year-old converted freight depot that was originally part of Webster Station. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Last year a somewhat quiet dining and event rental spot downtown started to make major changes both to the menu items and ambience it was offering up.

Top of the Market, which is housed in a 106-year-old converted freight depot that was originally part of Webster Station, has quickly become a go-to dining location thanks to the vision and work of Director John Capobianco, who was brought in by owner Sandy Mendelson in 2021 to help raise the bar on what could be done with the space and the food.

The building, located at the corner of Webster and Third streets in downtown Dayton, has housed many businesses through the decades including as a warehouse space for individual flea market vendors on the main floor with an event space on the second floor, which is how Top of the Market got its name.

“I met the infamous Sanford Mendelson (Sandy) in April of 2021 to discuss a business proposal for the building and if he had any interest in selling the building. He did not, nor did he want to enter into a partnership for a new venture. For those who knew Sandy, he was direct, straight forward, a no-nonsense local businessman and icon. He made no apologies of how he did business and after many meetings, lunches and shared stories, we grew fond of each other. There was mutual respect and understanding established. During our lunches, he often asked, ‘What would you do with this space?,’ to which I responded ‘If I told you, it would be consulting and you’d have to pay me that.’ This went back and forth, as Sandy was trying to make a deal. We finally agreed and on June 1, 2021, I came on as a consultant to help revive and re-energize what was lost during COVID,” said Capobianco.

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John Capobianco. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

John Capobianco. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
John Capobianco. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

After many talks the two men decided to renovate the big empty space in the center of the main floor. There was a captured market with weddings on weekends, that was not being tapped into. Guests would arrive early and sit and wait for the ceremony or reception to begin. There was no music, no beverage service and it was clearly a missed revenue opportunity. Both Capobianco and Mendelson agreed they needed to build a bar.

“I used the scenario, If I was going to a wedding at a hotel, restaurant, event space and arrived early, ‘what do you do? You go the bar!’ Thus, The Bar & Bistro came to be,” said Capobianco.

Mendelson passed away unexpectedly on July 3, 2021 at age 77, but not before he worked with Capobianco on the plans to realize his vision to create a downtown upscale bistro and beverage establishment with great customer service that is affordable.

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The new Bar & Bistro restaurant’s seasonal menu launched in May 2022 and the concept has been gaining steam and attention with local diners. The Bistro is now open Wednesday through Saturday from 4-10 p.m. for dinner and drinks and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Brunch and SunDAY-TON TEA, which is a Sunday happy hour with a DJ and live entertainment, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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The Bar & Bistro at Top of the Market seeks to be a neighborhood staple, says Director John Capobianco. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

The Bar & Bistro at Top of the Market seeks to be a neighborhood staple, says Director John Capobianco. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
The Bar & Bistro at Top of the Market seeks to be a neighborhood staple, says Director John Capobianco. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

It is located next door to the Gourmet Deli that has been in operation for 17 years and is a staple for local businesses in and near Webster Station. The deli offers seating for over 100 and a full menu of hot and cold meals, from freshly prepared sandwiches and salads, to hot pastrami and burgers from the grill. If you are looking for a deli this is a great lunch spot to hit.

As for dinner, Capobianco worked to create a dining room and bar in the vacant room next door to the deli in what was once a pass through for the event spaces and overflow seating for the delicatessen. He shares that the exposed brick and wooden beams offer a glimpse into Dayton’s industrious history while maintaining a rustic atmosphere that will set events and dinners out apart thanks to the “industrial chic” aesthetic.

“Working with a budget, the design evolved, after windows were installed to bring in natural light, a fresh coat of paint, some wainscotting, drapes, lounge seating and artwork, we finally built two half walls, in order to have a definitive space, within an open space. We currently have 60 seats in the dining room and eight seats at the bar. Our biggest dining draw is that we offer two large round tables for groups of eight to twelve, which many restaurants do not have,” said Capobianco.

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The most popular entrée with diners so far are the crab cakes ($18) featuring two cakes made in house with fresh crab, eggs, panko bread crumbs, onions and mayonnaise, placed on fresh greens and drizzled with a spicy lemon aioli sauce. They are a good value and do a good job of highlighting the main ingredient on display. Other entrees include an 8 oz. filet ($25), steak frites ($22), a fantastic salmon ($24), chicken confit ($18) and a summer pasta ($17) tossed with a roasted tomato white wine sauce with carrots, squash, asparagus, garlic and fresh herbs.

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Bao Buns at the Bar and Bistro. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Bao Buns at the Bar and Bistro. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
Bao Buns at the Bar and Bistro. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

The steamed Bao Buns ($16) filled with braised pork belly stacked with cucumbers, cilantro and served with a housemade sweet chili sauce are a welcome zingy starter to begin the evening with. The avocado toast ($12) on the recently launched brunch menu is a treat with tomato, arugula, hard boiled egg, balsamic drizzle and everything seasoning.

The kitchen can accommodate gluten-free and any dietary restrictions that guests have.

Capobianco says the wine list will continue to grow and the seasonal menu will bring more local farm fresh offerings.

“The Top of the Market’s only goal is to be a neighborhood staple. Whether it’s lunch during the week at The Gourmet Deli, a bite to eat or a drink at The Bar & Bistro or a business meeting or special celebration in one of our event spaces, it’s the downtown location with great food, service and free parking,” said Capobianco. “We get the same response all the time, ‘who knew, this was here?’ We just want to a place where we know each other’s names. A place where you can come and we know what you like and how you like it, without having to create a customer profile. Our regulars are just that.”

It’s no longer quiet and it’s quickly becoming one of the region’s Cheers thanks to the visionary talks between Mendelson and Capobianco way back when.

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How to go

What: The Bar & Bistro

Where: 32 Webster St., Dayton

The Bar & Bistro: A bistro-style restaurant serving dinner from 4–9 p.m. Wednesday thru Saturday and Brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. –2 p.m. Happy Hour Specials at The Bar & Bistro go from 4-7 p.m. with drink discounts and appetizer specials. SunDAY-TON Tea is a Sunday happy hour from 4-7 p.m. with a LIVE DJ and entertainment. The bar is open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Special events: The Top of the Market offers two special event venues, The Warehouse which seats up to 350 guests for seated events. The Loft, located on the second floor, has two rooms. The first for events up to 70 guests and the other for events up to 150 guests. Both spaces are handicap accessible with a ramp and ground floor entrance for The Warehouse and an elevator for The Loft.

More information: https://topofmarket.com/the-bar-bistro or 937-224-3663

DAYTON EATS

Turn to us every Sunday in Life & Arts for the latest menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes, and culinary adventures brought to you by contributing writer Alexis Larsen. Bon appetite!

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