Bill Daniels is a self-professed cheerleader for the city of Dayton, and he has helped feed its people for more than three decades.
Daniels — co-founder and owner of Dayton's Original Pizza Factory, founding board member of Fifth Street Brewpub, and founder and former owner of South Park Tavern — is our Daytonian of the Week.
Daniels was in his early 20s when he and former business partner Glen Brailey founded Dayton’s Original Pizza Factory at the corner of Salem Avenue and Catalpa Drive in 1986. (Brailey, by the way, went on to found Pacchia and Spinoza’s.)
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Daniels launched the Pizza Factory Lunch Cart on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton from 1989 thorough 2017, founded South Park Tavern & Pizza in 2006 and operated it until he sold it in 2017, and also was in on the ground floor in the formation of Fifth Street Brewpub in 2011 and 2012.
His days haven’t slowed down much, as you’re about to find out.
What’s a typical work day for you now?
Morning coffee and supply runs, paperwork, making pizzas during lunch shift, planning dough production, deliveries, more paperwork/planning, and making pizzas during night shift if necessary. The best part of having a pizza shop is the fact that we get to make people happy all day. There aren't a lot of jobs where you're the person everyone loves to see all day long, and we get to be a part of that special pizza night for families or the pizza special event for businesses — something that we understand, appreciate, and take pride in.
Why did you decide to stay in and settle in the Dayton area?
It's Great in Dayton, and without any irony, I'm someone who truly believes that. Great people, great cost of living, a world-class performing arts community, great original pizza, and great people. My wife and I are both from the Dayton area, have both worked in Dayton for decades, and even had our wedding and reception downtown 24 years ago. Dayton offers a great quality of life coupled with a great cost of living.
What’s been your most recent professional challenge, and how did you push through the challenge?
We had a day that reminded me of just how amazing our staff is. The natural gas to our shop was shut off mid-day due to a leak out under the street, and we had to make close to 100 pizzas that night for catering orders. Our manager, Dan Azbill, assistant managers Justin Barkley and Angie Elzey, staff members Rick Pierce, Brian Pilgrim, Chris Popadak, Steven Nielson, Daniel Hughes, Kris Crowell and John Sullivan all stepped up and amazingly, we completed all the orders without disrupting any of our customer's plans. It's a long story but their resourcefulness made it happen and it really reinforced how lucky we are to have such an incredible staff and how incredibly good they really are.
What are your favorite places to eat and/or drink in the Dayton area, beyond those you have a connection to?
Home is our favorite best place to have pizza/meals and share family time, but that aside, we love Tank's on Wayne Avenue, The Dock in Enon, Coco's, Lily's, Franco's, Ghostlight Coffee, Press, and Slyder's Tavern hamburgers.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Pizza and beer, of course. And Winnipeg Jets hockey games on Hockey Night in Canada when Don Cherry does Coach's Corner. Absolutely can't miss that.
What inspires you about Dayton?
The wonderful people. To use another Dayton slogan, it really is a city of neighbors, and we've had the good fortune to see that up close. For over 32 years, we've had the honor of families choosing Dayton's Original Pizza Factory to have their dinner or special event delivered to their home or place of business in EVERY neighborhood in Dayton.
There are thousands of wonderful people taking pride in living in Dayton and working to make it a great city. I love the small businesses that have been around for a long time and the newer small businesses, and the fact that the city leaders have realized that a lot of small improvements over time is what is bringing Dayton back to life.
As the city encourages its small businesses like it has been doing, quality of life in the city gets a little better, and a little better, until more and more people want to be in, and even live in, Dayton. I love where Dayton is going and love the opportunity for myself and our staff to continue trying to be a small complement to our neighborhood and the city of Dayton.
If I sound like a cheerleader for Dayton, so be it. You can't spend over 30 years with a small business in a city without appreciating and loving that city and its people.