- Jim Ingram
Of the many restaurants and bars whose names were called at this month’s Dayton.com Best of Dayton 2016 awards party, one name kept popping up.
Vandalia’s Bunkers Sports Bar and Grill ended up walking away with six awards. That got the attention of many Daytonians who are now looking to branch out a little farther north. Here’s a look at what you love the most about Bunkers.
There’s an old proverb that says, “To keep a customer demands as much skill as to win one,” and the mother-daughter ownership team of Marylou Kreusch and Leann Kreusch-McLaughlin has been extremely successful at said skill.
“People are very loyal here. Vandalia only has about 10,000 people, and many of those people keep coming back,” Kreusch-McLaughlin said.
It must be true because, despite a small parking lot that they share with another business, it doesn’t take long for the sizable main room to fill up. There’s also a separate party room that Bunkers gets requests for on a daily basis.
This announcement was a bit of a surprise to some, as perennial breakfast mainstays Golden Nugget Pancake Hose and Tank’s Bar & Grill took second and third, respectively. But Bunkers regulars weren’t surprised at all. With more than 20 different options and portions that never fail to fill, the Vandalia eatery gave Daytonians a solid reason to get up a little earlier.
“Saturday (and Sunday) mornings we have a line out the door,” manager Amy Glavin said. “It’s phenomenal.”
The Dayton area is rather contentious when it comes to its love of the Bloody Mary. Everyone has their favorite, however, more people told us Bunkers makes the best around. Served with thick-sliced pickles and a giant celery stalk, the classic breakfast (or anytime) cocktail is full of robust flavor, but not too thick. However, Bunkers’ secret salty and savory blend that lines the glass rim may be the best part about it.
This is a title that’s becoming harder to win as the craft beer bubble continues to show no sign of bursting. Bunkers offers 42 beers on tap from breweries near and far.
“We always have a variety,” Glavin said. “We’re always bringing new beers. We are lucky that breweries from all over come visit us. We’ve got people coming from Michigan, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Chicago. This year in particular, we got Utopia from Samuel Adams, which not many people got. We’re the only bar in this area that got as many bottles as we did.”
Vandalia’s own Hairless Hair Brewery made the Scarlet Ale, an American Amber Red beer, just for Bunkers.
Between the main room and the Ohio State University Buckeye and Cincinnati Reds-themed party room, there are roughly two dozen television screens to watch anything from football and baseball to horse racing and hockey. When the Buckeyes score, the OSU fight song plays through Bunkers’ speakers, keeping the atmosphere fun.
Like the Bloody Mary, chicken wings are a big deal in the Dayton area. Many say they have the best, but our readers gave Bunkers the poultry prize for 2016.
“We do jumbo wings. You can get them breaded or naked. They are mighty tasty with our homemade sauces,” Glavin said