Timothy’s serves up tradition while Double 18 offers the new

Timothy’s is still the college bar University of Dayton graduates and students have known since the 1960s.

But after about $800,000 in investments by owners Paul Kennel and Marty Brown, there are some key differences.

In the past two years, the bar at 1818 Brown St. has seen remodeling work in the interior and exterior, a second-floor patio deck, new features to make the establishment more comfortable and energy-efficient and — starting earlier this year — the addition of a second-floor lounge with a decidedly different vibe.

But the owners say they have invested continuously in the bar since they bought it in 1996, renewing the sprinkler system, strengthening support beams and other steps.

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At its heart, though, Timothy remains a place where a college-age crowd comes to drink, dance and make some memories.

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“We did it with the (intention) of: how do we preserve Timothy’s, for what it is to everyone,” Brown said.

Kennel, 47, and Brown, 48, met as UD freshmen and became fast friends. They bought the business after graduation.

“When we first bought the bar, that’s when the vision started — what do we want Tim’s to be,” said Kennel, who had worked there as bartender and manager before he became an owner.

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The pair say they didn’t cut any corners, hiring a big staff, training employees, working with university officials on housing and security concerns.

“There were real concerns about two 26-year-olds buying a college bar this close to campus — candidly, a college bar that had a pretty wild reputation back in the early to mid-90s,” Kennel said.

Partnering with the university was key, establishing a collaboration that endures to this day, the owners said.

At one point, employees were cleaning out the bar’s basement when they found an old neon sign for the “Double 18 Lounge.” That raised some eyebrows.

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“We wondered, well, what’s this all about?” Kennel said. “We did research, and we couldn’t find any history of a Double 18 Lounge.”

But given the bar’s address —1818 Brown — it wasn’t hard to figure out that at some point, the establishment there was referred to as the “Double 18.”

That led to the opening up of the bar’s second floor, really a project the owners have pursued since the ’90s.

Said Brown, “That was the spark for what to do upstairs. Let’s just call the upstairs the ‘Double 18 Lounge’ again. Keep it as an old look, an old feel.”

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Double 18 serves as a “bar within a bar,” operating with Timothy’s under a single liquor license. Patrons can go upstairs to talk and relax, either starting or ending the evening there.

Meanwhile, the first floor retains the relatively younger, louder vibe it always had. After all, this was the bar Playboy magazine in 1997 ranked as one of the nation’s top 100 college bars.

Usually every Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the school year, both venues are open.

The owners said the feedback from alumni on both venues has been gratifying. Graduates like seeing that Timothy’s hasn’t really changed — but there’s a change of pace on the second floor.

“The Double 18 creates an opportunity for people down here to go upstairs and relax,” Kennel said.

So what’s next? The owners say they’re retaining a traditional feel downstairs while being open to the next evolution upstairs.

“We’re still learning how this is going to go and flow during the school year,” Brown said. “They (students) are coming back in about three weeks.”

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