Spaghetti Warehouse first opened at 36 W. Fifth St. in 1980 and over 40 years later the restaurant won first place for Best Family Restaurant in our 2023 Best of Dayton contest.
When the Dallas-based company first announced plans to renovate the five-story building where the restaurant stands today, city officials were excited because at the time the area was described as “seedy.” They had hopes that it would bring a new wave of improvements to the area.
Today, Spaghetti Warehouse is surrounded by several event venues like the Dayton Convention Center, Levitt Pavilion and Dayton Arcade, in addition to many other restaurants and businesses. The restaurant strives to create a unique environment that’s family-friendly and filled with unique antiques like a trolley-car.
“People would come from far and wide to these restaurants,” said Michael Kim, the president of The One Esca Group, a restaurant management group that owns Spaghetti Warehouse. “We created an environment that’s fun. It’s an environment that’s different from other restaurants in the sense that you’re in an eccentric box that has a lot of character, a lot of history behind it.”
Best of Dayton 2023 winners
The Dayton building is well over 100 years old and in the early 90s’ was home to a publishing house. Prior to Spaghetti Warehouse, it was a bowling alley. Some of the flooring from the bowling alley remains in the restaurant’s main dining area.
“From antique trolley cars to old-timey beds, the décor at The Old Spaghetti Warehouse isn’t coordinated chic. It’s uncommonly fun,” an advertisement for the restaurant in the Dayton Daily News said in 1981. “But, atmosphere is only one reason families keep coming back to The Old Spaghetti Warehouse. Our menu and prices have a lot to do with our popularity.”
In 2023, the advertisement still rings true.
Favorites on the menu include the restaurant’s signature 15-layer lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, grilled chicken alfredo and chicken parmigiana. The American-Italian cuisine contributes to the restaurant being family-friendly, Kim said.
When asked why people continue to come back year after year, Kim said Spaghetti Warehouse is near and dear to many people’s hearts because they’ve celebrated life events like birthdays, graduations or retirements at the restaurant.
“The whole premise of Spaghetti Warehouse as a generality was to create a venue that would allow you to celebrate life events,” Kim said.
The 13,000-squart-foot restaurant space has two banquet areas, in addition to standard dining. Kim said they are equipped and really good at serving large groups.
Spaghetti Warehouse also has arcade games, free candy for kids that eat all of their food, balloon artists on the weekends and events like mystery dinner theater shows that are kid-friendly.
“We’re going to give you good, solid food that you’re going to be happy with and you’re going to leave full with a big smile on your face,” Kim said.
The One Esca Group also owns Corner Kitchen in the Oregon District and The Oakwood Club in Oakwood.
“At the end of the day, I fell in love with Dayton and its people,” Kim said. “The thought of growing there made me really excited.”
Spaghetti Warehouse also won second place in Best Caterer and third place in Best Italian Food.