Elizabeth Wiley first made a name for herself at The Winds Cafe in Yellow Springs before opening Meadowlark on Miamisburg-Centerville Road in Washington Twp. in 2004. Seven years later, she moved Meadowlark to Far Hills Avenue in Washington Twp., then went on to open Wheat Penny Oven & Bar on Wayne Avenue in Dayton in 2013. Most recently, she became co-founder of SageCraft Catering and Events.
In other words, her plate is full — and it would be difficult to overstate the impact Wiley has had on the Dayton-area dining scene. And for those reasons and more, Elizabeth Wiley is our Daytonian of the Week this week. Here’s a peek behind what makes the 59-year-old chef/owner of Meadowlark Enterprises tick.
What’s your favorite spot in the Dayton area?
Driving a pontoon boat full-throttle on Indian Lake; sitting in a front-row seat at a Rubi Girls Show; and visiting any covered bridge in Greene County.
What do you love about life in the Dayton area?
You can go urban to rural in 15 minutes. You can happen onto a sunflower field in the summertime. The reasonable cost of living makes a dream more possible to achieve for people of all ages — like opening your own restaurant!
Why did you decide to settle in the Dayton area?
It wasn’t really a decision, I just drank the water … .
How did you get involved with your line of work?
My aunt and uncle opened a restaurant in Olathe, Kansas and hired a retired Army Chef to run the kitchen. I got a summer job there, and the rest is history.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Beverage: A big, cold Gin Martini with lots of blue cheese olives
Food: Thick, crunchy, freshly fried tortilla chips and good salsa
Music: The fact that I rarely listen to anything put out after 1985
What superpower would you love to have?
Unconditional love and an outsider’s perspective on life as we know it.
If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, what would it be?
• High-speed rail linking the cities in Ohio, including Dayton and Springfield!
• The Final Four instead of the First Four, perhaps?
• More direct flights to and from the Dayton airport. My stomach clenches at the thought of connecting at O’Hare!
What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
Whatever life may be like in the future, I know we can count on Dayton to be itself, calm and down-to-earth, with a foundation in hard work and a good sense of humor to get ourselves through the thick and the thin.
>> RELATED: Wheat Penny Oven & Bar announces opening date (August 2013)
>> RELATED: Local chef and restaurant owner gets shout-out from NPR (July 2015)
>> RELATED: Downtown restaurant plans scrapped, owners going to Kettering instead (December 2016)