Here are the Top 10 ‘Daytonians of the Week’ of 2019

Credit: Images source: Facebook profile photos

Credit: Images source: Facebook profile photos

Here is a list of's most-read "Daytonian of the Week" stories of 2019, based on online readers' page views.

This was a tough year for Dayton and the Miami Valley, but there were many people who pitched in to help — and they stood out. Today, we salute the helpers, leaders and unique people who work every day to make Dayton a better place.

If you’d like to suggest someone for Daytonian of the Week, please email us at

>> Find more Daytonians of the Week here

10.) Chris Cavender, award-winning chef and BBQ entrepreneur

Cavender has a restaurant resume that sounds more like a "Who's Who" directory of local eateries. Among his stints: he served as the former executive chef at Jay's Restaurant in Dayton and Sycamore Country Club in Miamisburg and the co-founder of 1572 Roadhouse Bar-B-Q restaurant near Waynesville.

But it's his role as a barbecue entrepreneur as founder of UrbanQ Smokehouse specialty food products that has been showering Cavender with accolades most recently.

Credit: Chris Stewart

Credit: Chris Stewart

9.) Doug Sorrell, auctioneer

When people ask this Daytonian of the Week about his keys to success, he has a two-word answer for them.

“Courage and stupidity,” Doug Sorrell said. “I was always brave enough to undertake things and too dumb to realize it was likely impossible to achieve. I think Dayton and our suburbs need these kinds of dreamers to succeed.”

Sorrell, a driving force behind the Plaza Theatre in downtown Miamisburg, has conducted hundreds of auctions, raising millions for local charities, including the first auction ever conducted at the Schuster Center’s Wintergarten.

8.) Roger Glass, CEO of Marion’s Piazza

Marion's Piazza's president and CEO says "very simple business practices" focused on quality and consistency have created a recipe for success that has earned both national and local recognition.

Three months after "Pizza Today" named Marion's No. 1 on its "Hot 100" list for the third consecutive year based on the chain's sales success, Marion's Piazza swept three big categories in the Best of 2018 contest, placing first for "Best Pizza Restaurant," "Best Square-Cut Pizza" and "Best Restaurant to Take an Out-of-Towner."

The second-generation owner told us more about himself and the pizza business that his father, Marion Glass, founded in 1965.

7.) Joe Castellano, owner of Amber Rose Restaurant and Catering

Castellano, owner of Amber Rose Restaurant and Catering, believes he was born to be a restaurateur.

We’ll let him tell you why: “I was always drawn to the industry,” Castellano said. “My great-grandparents and grandparents owned a tavern in St. Louis for years, and hearing their stories as a young boy influenced my path, I think. I started busing tables and washing dishes at 15 at the Bill Knapp's restaurant by the Salem Mall, and I worked there on and off through high school around sports seasons.”

6.) Ruben Pelayo of El Sombrero

When friends and neighbors sat down at El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant in Troy this Thanksgiving, it marked the 25th year Ruben Pelayo has opened both his heart and his restaurant to the community.

Each year, El Sombrero, located at 1700 N. County Road 25A in Troy, offers a completely free, traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Pelayo came to the Dayton area to open his restaurant in Troy in 1994. His adopted family, including mother, sister and nephews, live in Troy. The rest of Pelayo’s family is in the Pacific Northwest and in Mexico.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

5.) Eric Soller of Old Scratch Pizza

Soller has always been in the restaurant business in one way or another. He graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont in 1998 (that’s also where he met his wife, Stephanie), and went on to work in restaurants, hotels, catering companies, and as a food service consultant in Oregon, Michigan, Colorado, Vermont and Ohio.

In 2006, Soller accepted a marketing position with The Hobart Corporation in Troy, where he eventually worked his way up to director of marketing for Hobart Food Equipment Group.

But Soller had an itch to operate his own restaurant — and he scratched it: Soller and his wife Stephanie opened Old Scratch Pizza at 800 S. Patterson Blvd. in Dayton in October 2016. Business has been strong, strong enough for him to announce a second location is coming soon to Washington Twp.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

4.) Michael Parks of Carvers

Our Daytonian of the Week started his restaurant career as a busboy at an unpretentious restaurant in a small town in Clark County, came to the “big city” to serve meals and drinks to guests in a downtown Dayton hotel, landed a job at what was then Dayton’s most prestigious and credentialed dining destination, and ultimately joined his current fine-dining restaurant in 1998, shortly after it opened its doors.

Parks serves as general manager of Carvers Steaks & Chops in Washington Twp.

Credit: Images source: Facebook profile photos

Credit: Images source: Facebook profile photos

3.) 100 Daytonians of the Week who made a difference

ike many, Arthur J. Jipson has thought of the famous Mr. Rogers quote as it relates to the Memorial Day tornadoes and the recent mass shooting in Dayton's Oregon District: "Look for the helpers." 

The helpers have been many in this community fighting to recover from the assaults on the community's soul.

That willingness to help was exhibited in the aftermath of the 15 Memorial Day tornadoes that uprooted lives in the Dayton area and the Aug. 4 mass shooting in the Oregon District that left the gunman and nine others dead and nearly 30 injured. This special edition of Daytonian of the Week honors just some of them.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

2.) Ron and Christy Sweeney of Sea Jax Tavern

Ron and Christy Sweeney’s restaurant careers in the Dayton area span decades. In the 1980s, Ron was the founding general manager of the former Charley’s Crab restaurant that overlooked the main floor beneath the rotunda of The Arcade in downtown Dayton.

In 1994, Ron and Christy founded Sweeney’s restaurant in the heart of Centerville, operated it for 18 years, then sold the restaurant in 2012. It has changed its name slightly, but subsequent owners have kept the couple’s last name — it’s now called Sweeney’s Seafood Bar & Grill, and it celebrated its 25th anniversary in September.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

1.) Jennifer Evans of Evans Bakery 

There has been a bakery on the premises at 700 Troy St. in Dayton since 1927.

And pretty much the ONLY reason there’s STILL a bakery on the premise has an awful lot to do with a life-changing decision that Jennifer Evans and her partner Matt Tepper made seven years ago, when they gave up lucrative careers in another state to return to Dayton and resurrect the bakery that Jennifer had watched her parents operate when she was growing up.

Let’s let Jennifer tell you the story herself, because it’s a good one.

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