Third Perk closing downtown Dayton coffeehouse, owner celebrates end of era with new book

Third Perk Coffeehouse & Wine Bar is closing its doors at 146 E. Third St. in Dayton on Saturday, Dec. 9 after a book signing event from 2 to 5 p.m.

Owner Juanita-Michelle Darden is celebrating the end of an era with the release of her book, “The People’s Coffeehouse.”

The People’s Coffeehouse

Credit: AP2 Photography

Credit: AP2 Photography

The book pays tribute to Darden’s coffeehouse, which was previously located at 46 W. Fifth St. She said the book has been three years in the making and features customer submissions of poetry, stories, photos and more highlighting their Third Perk experiences.

“I wanted people who hadn’t experienced Third Perk to understand what that feeling truly meant,” Darden said.

Each customer identified with the coffeehouse in their own special way — prompting it to be referred to as the “people’s coffeehouse.”

Other sections of the the book particularly highlight Darden and her family and how she assembled the business.

What’s next for Third Perk

Even though the coffeehouse is closing in Dayton’s Fire Blocks District, this is not the end for Third Perk.

Darden is collaborating with chef Mark Brown of Atlanta to open Soul Food Carryout at 3907 W. Third St. She hopes to open the carryout in February 2024 in addition to adding Third Perk Express to the space.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

“The winners are the people who recognize there is a problem and are able to pivot and continue on,” Darden said. “Downtown has stopped working for me. It has stopped being a passion project and now I’m able to pivot into my own space with a drive up model serving a community that’s underserved.”

She’s proud to bring Third Perk Express to West Dayton because that’s where she grew up. The building where the carryout and coffee shop will be located previously housed Citizens Federal where she set up her first bank account. The building most recently housed restaurants like Quincy’s and Randy’s Chicken and Waffles.

Darden’s journey

Darden originally opened Third Perk in 2015 when she was a professor at Sinclair Community College. She said she had been planning to open the coffeehouse for two years prior because she wanted a space where she could hang out with her friends.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

Nearly a decade later, Third Perk has had a presence not only in downtown Dayton, but at the Dayton Mall, The Mall at Fairfield Commons and Gem City Market.

In 2017, Darden started the SHE-Roe Storytelling event recognizing and sharing the stories of six African American women dedicated to the local community. The series has grown over the years and will be hosted at The Loft Theatre in 2024 featuring a new cohort of women.

Another project she has been working on is her podcast, “The Broken Entrepreneur.”

“That podcast has been a healing journey for me because we get to talk about how you recognize things are wrong and what you (need to) work towards to make them better,” Darden said.

The third season of the podcast will be coming out soon.

As she prepares for this next step in her journey with Brown, Darden is excited to see what the future holds.

“I’m excited I have this opportunity to grow differently,” Darden said. “Now that I am an owner, not a renter, that changes everything.”

Third Perk will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Liquidation of furniture and other items will take place over the next two weeks. For more information or to purchase Darden’s book, visit or Third Perk’s Facebook or Instagram pages.

About the Author