June is a busy month for Jerid Martel.
It is Gay Pride Month (See Facebook Live replay of Dayton's Pride Parade and festival) and his downtown business, MJ's on Jefferson, is a key gathering place and entertainment venue for the LGBTQ community.
The recent tragic events in Orlando put MJ's even more in the spotlight.
A candlelight vigil was held in the Club Masque and MJ's parking on Jefferson following the tragedy.
MJ's will be donating the door cover to efforts to help victims Thursday, June 16.
We caught up with Jerid, the latest Daytonian of the Week.
What do you do?
I am one of the owners of MJ’s on Jefferson.
What’s one word you think people would use to describe you?
Hmm, not sure we can print that. But seriously, I hope hardworking and compassionate.
What do you love about life in Dayton?
I love that Dayton embraces everyone. We feel like we are part of the larger community. I feel like Dayton is alive again and wants to be a better city.
What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton?
We like to have dinner downtown or in the Oregon District, maybe go to the Neon for a movie, then drinks -- you know what I am going to say here already
How did you get involved with your business?
I have always run my own business, from cutting grass and shoveling snow when I was a kid to working with my father, who taught me how to be a hard worker and never give up. I started working with the LGBTQ center when we purchased our first bar, DJ’s Saloon on Main Street. I realized how important it is to support our community and help support its members. Many young gay people do not come from supportive families, so the community becomes their family.
What was the most challenging part of that?
The most challenging part of running the bar has been our location. We didn't have a long lease on the first bar; it was sold to develop the property. Same deal at the second location with the exception of a lease. The bar didn’t fit into the developers' plan for the property. They didn't want us there, so we then moved to our final location and recently purchased the building so we have a forever home.
Our challenges now are getting our new equipment for the kitchen and have it running at 100 percent. We are adding new items and finding some up-and-coming chef to take us to the next level. I have found that surrounding yourself with excellent long-term managers like Bruce Lindsey, Douglas Hill, Alexis O'Hara and Matthew Wilson along with good reliable staff is a key to success. We are a family here and look out for each other.
What would you change about Dayton?
We still need to work on cleaning up downtown and surrounding areas. Get the people back and that will spur everything else. It's a very exciting time to be a property owner downtown.
June is Gay Pride Month and the tragic events in Orlando are a reminder that there is still much work to be done in the name of equality. What challenges does Dayton’s LGBTQ community face and what are your hopes?
Why did you decide to settle in Dayton?
Dayton has been home as long as I can remember. Dad was stationed here in the USAF, and we never left. I did move briefly to Auburn, Ind., where I bought my first Domino’s Pizza franchise, but missed Dayton and my family so I sold it and returned to Dayton. I bought a Subway franchise and then went into the beer and wine drive-through business before purchasing DJ’s Saloon, which became Mj's Cafe, now Mj's on Jefferson.
Dayton is HOME.