His name may have never appeared on a ballot certified by the Montgomery County Board of Election, but Andy Rowe, the bearded assistant manager of Blind Bob’s in the Oregon District, could certainly make a case for claiming the title “Mayor of Fifth Street.”
Below we catch up with Andy, a key organizer of a bingo night at Bob’s in support of employees impacted by the recent fire at Salar Restaurant and Lounge, and who has been crowned Daytonian of the Week.
The father of three said he organized the Salar fund-raiser because it was the Oregon District thing to do.
“When Blind Bob's opened 10 years ago, I was surprised that instead of being adversarial and territorial, all the neighboring restaurants and bars were amazingly supportive, and I wanted to pay that forward,” he told us.
Q) What do you do and how did you get involved in it?
A) I have been the assistant general manager at Blind Bob's since we opened in August of 2008. My close friend Nate approached me about managing a bar his family was looking at opening, and I was enthralled with the opportunity to build something focused on providing things I love (good food, good beer and local music). I was also elected to the non-profit Oregon District Business Association board in July 2016 and have served as its secretary since January 2017.
Q) What is your hidden talent?
A) Sleeping in. I've also been quietly teaching myself programming. Initially this was so I could make video games, but it actually led me toward my fascination with Bitcoin, which I've been obsessed with since 2013.
Q) What do you love about life in Dayton?
A) Dayton is just small enough that most people are polite enough to still say hello to a stranger (when I'm in big cities it seems like nobody acknowledges people they don't know, even avoiding eye contact), yet Dayton is just big enough that there's always something new to discover, explore and do.
Q) What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton?
A) In 2013 I took the love of my life, Eden, on our first date for tacos at Taqueria Mixteca, then we checked out the planetarium at Boonshoft, and finally we had coffee at Ghostlight. Actually she drove so I guess she took me? Either way she was putty in my hands after that day.
>> ON THE MENU: A burrito to end all burritos at Taqueria Mixteca
Q) What makes the Oregon District a unique place?
A) Its history is pretty amazing. A lot of the buildings are quite old with more than a couple having been built in the late 19th century. Fifth Street was primarily a rail hub adjacent to the canal, and you can still see clues in areas around Fifth Street of the tracks that ran under where there's now roadway. I don't think it's coincidence that a few local business names allude to trains and trolleys either (Oregon Express, Trolley Stop). Presumably the railroad connected to tracks that would bring you out to the state of Oregon. The story of the neighborhood pulling together decades later to restore and preserve the district is inspiring. I was raised in East Dayton and got to see a bit of the tail end of the neighborhood's resurgence. I have fond memories from my youth visiting my uncle Butch, who tended bar at the American Saloon which operated where Lucky's Taproom is now. Butch lived above the saloon and had a huge pot-bellied pig. Also noteworthy when it comes to the pronunciation of Oregon is here many usually pronounce it ore-uh-GONE, while folks in the state of Oregon I'm told cringe unless you pronounce it more like AURA-gun.
Q) What should people know about Daytonians?
A) Daytonians really are inventive. People know we invented airplanes (even if Kittyhawk has yet to get memo), but few realize how prolific Dayton is when it comes to the density of patents and the creation of new intellectual property. Search engines, pop- top cans, cash registers, digital scales, ice cube trays, chrome plating, artificial hearts and kidneys, microfiche, black lights, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Describing the music that comes from Dayton as inventive too would be pretty accurate.
Q) What inspires you about Dayton?
A) People from Dayton are determined. Dayton's teachers, artists and business owners are all stubborn and in the best way. It's evident in the people who never give up in the face of the continuous challenges the city seems to be constantly presented with, and that stubbornness is a sign of our strength.
Q) What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
A) I am optimistic Dayton will grow, continuing to invent and reinvent itself. It is my hope that city leaders will take a proactive approach to embracing the future. Increasing access to information by making a real commitment to bringing broadband access to the entire city would say to the world that Dayton really is a tech town. Embracing and exploring technology like Bitcoin Cash would put the city at the front of what's being made possible via open-source, programmable money. Lastly, and perhaps most important, a renewed and serious commitment to the education of Dayton's youth is needed. Teaching every student about our local history and being honest about the effects that the 1913 flood and desegregation had on Dayton and the surrounding communities is an important tool needed to help people understand and truly begin to undo the city's legacy of racial tension, which we all should agree belongs exclusively in our past.