DAYTON EATS: Summer Restaurant Week starts Sunday; special menu honors former DDN food editor Ann Heller

Since it began in 2005, Summer Restaurant Week has been special with local chefs and restaurants planning special meals to highlight the best seasonal produce and recipes they have to offer.

The featured menus are often inventive and speak to the passion of the kitchen staff and owners as they give hungry diners the chance to explore their menus and flavors of the season at a more affordable price.

This year, Summer Restaurant Week, runs July 24-31 offering meals from more than 25 restaurants ranging in price from $20.22-$50.22.

“This promotion helps restaurants see new customers and maybe see some they haven’t in awhile. It is also during a slower time of year for them and this really helps increase their bottom line. Zack (Weiner, chef and co-founder) with Jollity absolutely loved his first restaurant week in the winter and is excited to participate this summer,” said Amy Zahora, executive director of the Miami Valley Restaurant Association (MVRA).

This year Zahora shared that the number of participating restaurants are down significantly from past years due mainly to staffing issues. It typically features more than 40 restaurants. Zahora expects to see approximately 5,000-6,000 meals sold, about half of what they have sold in the past.

A dollar from each meal sold will be split between For the Love of Children and the MVRA Education Foundation.

Two new participating restaurants – The Last Queen, an English pub that recently opened in Enon, and Loose Ends Brewing in Centerville – will be joining the promotion with the opportunity to attract and engage new customers.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

The Restaurant Week menu that I am most excited about is Meadowlark Restaurant’s tribute to Ann Heller who passed away just over three months ago in April. Heller was longtime Dayton Daily News and Journal Herald food editor and restaurant critic and the author of two cookbooks.

Meadowlark’s four course promotion that runs July 26-30 is the vision of Owner and Chef Elizabeth Wiley who knew Heller and respected the important role she played in helping document the local restaurant scene from 1975 to 2006. The menu is an homage to Heller with dishes inspired by some of the late food writer’s favorites.

Heller wrote glowingly in the past about the restaurant’s garlic frites. She also liked the dressing on the chicken salad, so for the amuse-bouche diners will enjoy garlic frites with a curry-peach mayo jam on the side for dipping.

The first course is a battle of two of Ann’s favorite soups. Black bean or a creamy summer gazpacho. Which will you choose?

The main course has a choice of four wonderful options:

  • Lemon-roasted chicken thighs with jasmine rice and Ann’s summer squash salad with olives and feta cheese
  • Braised pork butt with roasted garlic potatoes and smokin’ chipotle slaw
  • A grilled shrimp skewer with avocado-corn salsa and cheese grits
  • Red chile broken enchiladas with melty vegan or dairy cheese and fried corn and mushrooms.

Dessert offers the choice of three of Ann’s favorites:

  • A strawberry cobbler with butter cookie crust
  • A fresh plum tart with crème anglaise, dried plum gastrique and whipped cream
  • A brown butter-bourbon pound cake with Ann’s cherry almond sauce.

Special featured Restaurant Week Cocktails are an Ann Heller inspired Tomato Margarita and a Mojito that she loved inspired by El Meson’s classic recipe.

The four course $40 meal is one that I know Ann would be absolutely tickled by. In the capable hands of Wiley who Ann dearly admired and is without question one of the best chefs in Dayton, I know this will be the menu of menus not to be missed.

Every Restaurant Week is special, but this one especially so. I know I’ll be there several times to raise a glass to my friend and try the dishes that inspired the cooks she loved and who loved her right back.

“Restaurant Week is very popular in our area because people of the Miami Valley do enjoy supporting our local restaurants and also like a good deal. Restaurant week gives people the opportunity to try a new place at a good price,” said Zahora.

It’s also a labor of love that will be on display once more with kitchens and chefs all over town creating dishes they are passionate about.

If Ann were still here I know she’d be planning a full week of dining out to relish in restaurants putting their best foot forward. Even in retirement she never stopped cheering them on and supporting them.

I can’t wait to toast her next week and I know legions of her fans probably do as well. See you at Meadowlark!

How to go

What: Summer Restaurant Week

When: July 24-31

Where: Various locations

Cost: Meals range in price from $20.22-$50.22

More info and complete list of restaurants: (937) 461-MVRA or


The following is a list of the businesses scheduled to participate in the 2022 Miami Valley Restaurant Associations’ Summer Restaurant Week taking place July 24-31. Please note — this list of participating restaurants is subject to change and reservations may be required from some participating locations. Calling ahead is recommended, for details, hours and reservations. For the most up-to-date participating restaurant list and information visit



Amber Rose, 1400 Valley St., Dayton, (937) 228-2511

The Bar and Bistro at Top of the Market, 32 Webster St., Dayton, (937) 224-3663

Coco’s Bistro, 250 Warren St., Dayton, (937) 228-2626

Franco’s, 824 E. Fifth St., Dayton, (937) 222-0204

Jay’s Seafood Restaurant, 225 E. Sixth St., Dayton, (937) 222-2892

Jollity Dayton, 127 E. Third St., Dayton, (937) 938-9089

Wheat Penny, 515 Wayne Ave, Dayton, (937) 496-5268


Figlio, 424 E. Stroop Road in the Town & Country shopping center, Kettering, (937) 534-0494


Carvers Steaks & Chops, 1535 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Centerville, (937) 433-7099

Chappy’s Social House, 7880 Washington Village Dr, Centerville, (937) 439-9200

Loose Ends Brewing, 890 S. Main St., Centerville, (937) 723-6328

Thai Kitchen, 8971 Kingsridge Dr., Centerville, (937) 888-8424


Florentine Restaurant, 21 W. Market St., Germantown, (937) 855-7759


The Chop House, 7727 Washington Village Drive, Washington Twp., (937) 291-1661

Thai Table, 5841 Far Hills Ave., Washington Twp., (937) 739-5841

Meadowlark, 5531 Far Hills Ave., Washington Twp., (937) 434-4750


Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, 3500 Rigby Rd., Miamisburg, (937) 865-9355

Backwater Voodoo, 3 S. Main St., Miamisburg, (937) 949-0522

Watermark Restaurant, 20 S. First St., Miamisburg, (937) 802-0891


Bunker’s Sports Bar & Grill, 893 E. National Road, Vandalia, (937) 890-8899



Basil’s On Market, 18 N. Market St., Troy, (937) 524-5916

Smith’s Boathouse Restaurant, 439 N. Elm St., Troy, (937) 335-3837


Hickory River Smokehouse, 135 S. Garber Drive, Tipp City, (937) 669-2271



Basil’s On Market, 2729 Fairfield Commons Blvd., Beavercreek, (937) 702-3160

Pasha Grill, 72 Plum St., The Greene, Beavercreek, (937) 429-9000


Nick’s Restaurant, 1443 North Detroit Street, Xenia, (937) 372-3202



The Last Queen, 210 E. Main St., Enon, (937) 340-6032

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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