We caught up with Diane Spitzig, our Daytonian of the Week.
What superpower would you love to have?
Teleportation. I would love to blink and be anywhere in the world in an instant.
Do you think it is harder for a woman to own a business?
I think that today, a woman-owned business isn't near as uncommon as you might think. Twenty years ago, people were a bit more narrow-minded than they are now. Many were often surprised to find out that a single woman ran a business and they would inquire about what my husband did for a living.
How easy is it to run a downtown business now compared to when you first took control of The Century Bar?
Dayton has changed so much over the last 20 years, especially downtown. The stigma of "downtown is frightening" has gone away, and people are enjoying what downtown Dayton has to offer. With more people living downtown, we can again be a neighborhood bar, even as we've grown and expanded.
What do you love about life in Dayton?
I love that everything I could want in a city is right here but without the hassles of big-city living (mainly traffic). Even though the Miami Valley is spread out, you can find anything you're looking for within a very short 10- to 15-minute drive.
Where do you go for a great time?
When I can get away from the Century Bar, I like to dine out at other women-owned or co-owned businesses, such as Roost, Corner Kitchen, Wheat Penny, Oregon Express, Lily's and Trolley Stop.
What would you change about Dayton?
I wouldn't change anything about the city. I would encourage the city to continue beautification projects all over the central business as well as the ballpark and riverscape.
What should people know about Dayton?
That Dayton has a lot to offer and that there are tons of things to do around town if you know where to look. We get a lot of tourists in the bar and they are always surprised by Dayton's rich history and innovation. One aspect in particular that I love is Dayton's appreciation for the arts. I love DVAC, the Art Institute, and all of the beautiful public art all over the city.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Netflix and Wild Turkey. I love to binge watch new TV shows.
How did you push through the challenge?
There are always challenges in being an entrepreneur, but it helped to buy an already established business. Although I've owned the Century Bar for 20 years now, the Century has been open since 1942 and has always been a downtown Dayton staple.
If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, would would it be?
A never-ending supply of Pappy Van Winkle's Bourbon so people will quit asking for it.
What do you think The Century Bar will be like 20 years from now?
I don't think the look and feel of the Century Bar has changed much in the past 20 years, and I don't believe it will change much in the next 20 years. The tables and chairs may change, but the magnificent back bar we have is always a beautiful focal point. It was built in 1862 and it's as gorgeous today as the day it was built. Other than adding to the 350+ whiskeys behind the bar, the Century will always be the Century.
Diane Spitzig did not exactly know what she was getting into when she bought the Century Bar at 10 S. Jefferson St.
“I really thought I wanted to own a restaurant, and a bar went along with it,” she said of the business that dates back to 1942 with a bar back built in 1862.
A year after taking ownership 20 years ago, the Beavercreek High School grad and long-time restaurant industry manager closed the Century's kitchen to focus on the more profitable bar side of the operation: the bar.
Times have changed and so has the Century.
“I think that today a woman owned business isn't near as uncommon as you might think,” Spitzig told Dayton.com. “Twenty years ago, people were a bit more narrow-minded than they are now. Many were often surprised to find out that a single woman ran a business and they would inquire about what my husband did for a living.”
The business transformed to a bourbon house about 4 years ago.
Spitzig credited Joe Head, her new business partner and former bartender, for the idea that sparked the change that has seen the business turn into one of the Dayton area’s most popular and nationally acclaimed bars.
You have to trust your people that if they are passionate about something, they can make it work,” she said. “Joe as we all know is passionate about bourbon."
Growth is on the horizon for the bar.
Construction is due to begin this week for Kette's Kandies Spirited Treats, the Century’s Prohibition-era speakeasy-themed cocktail bar. Spitzig expects to eventually hire more workers.
Like the Century, the new business is in the Fire Block District being developed by The Ellway Group.
Spitzig attributes part of her success to her people.
Century Bar owner Diane Spitzig is our Daytonian of the Week. Diane is pictured with her business partner Joe Head (L) and right-hand man Tim Fry.
“My dad always told me to surround yourself with good people, and good things will happen to you. I attribute my success to choosing just the right people. I hired Joseph Head at 23 years old to bartend and now at 41 he's my business partner,” Spitzig told Dayton.com. “I hired Tim Fry 10 years ago, and he's our right- hand man, and does a great job running day-to-day operations. We have Jerrod Claytor and Nick Moerman for several years, and have been blessed with our new hires Ryan Lewis, Matt Johnson, Mark Pittman, Bill Bogan and Kelli Nikanowicz.”
Spitzig’s 20th anniversary as owner of the Century Bar will be celebrated at the bar 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday, April 14th.
“My one wish is that I would love to see all the staff I've had worked with over the years come to the party,” she said.