Deaf Monty's wine bar in the Historic Oregon District neighborhood is small, adorable and personalized. Its logo featuring a fluffy white dog and name to match spark a curiosity to know the shop's story, especially after a glass or three of wine poured just for you. The story is as charming as expected, involving a young couple discovering their passion for wine aboard a honeymoon cruise, a love for travel, intimate friendships and puppies.
Leslie and Jeff Gonya, both University of Dayton graduates, moved to the Oregon District from Patterson Park in 2002 to pursue their dream of opening a bed and breakfast. After nine successful years of growing Inn Port D’Vino, a wine-themed B&B business, they wanted to take advantage of a little leftover space at their 22 Brown St. location.
“It’s very rare you’re going to have a wine bar on-site of a bed and breakfast,” Leslie Gonya said.
That’s where Deaf Monty’s namesake comes in. The wine bar opened in 2011, shortly after Blind Bob’s bar opened just around the corner on 5th Street. Bob Mendenhall, aka Blind Bob, and his wife, Lisa Mendenhall, lived in Cincinnati at the time and became close friends with the Gonyas while staying at the B&B when visiting their son, Nate, owner of Blind Bob’s.
“As we continued thinking about names for the wine bar, we had a deaf pound puppy named Monty. He was one of two fuzzy white dogs we had at the time. As long as we’ve been a married couple, we’ve had fuzzy white dogs,” Gonya said.
Bob Mendenhall and Monty struck up a kindred friendship when Leslie would walk Monty to the B&B in the mornings to check on the Mendenhalls while they enjoyed coffee.
“We thought what would be kind of funny is if we named our wine bar after deaf Monty since there’s already Blind Bob’s up on 5th Street,” Gonya said. “Basically, we checked with Bob what he would think, we didn’t want him to be insulted, but he thought it would be hilarious. ... We think wine should be fun, not snooty. If you have a cute puppy as your logo for a wine bar, no one is going to perceive you as snooty. It was just a fun thing. ... How many pound pups get a wine bar named after them?”
Monty passed away in 2014. But his spirit lives on through his three “fuzzy white” siblings, Mazie, Lance and Bonnie, who keep Leslie company while customers filter through during the evening.
“There are certain people that I think the dogs bring them in as much as the beverages and conversation do,” Gonya said.
The B&B living room and dining area are free game for seating after purchasing a tasting glass, full pour or even bottle to drink on-site. It makes for a personalized experience for both the sociable and those who might want their personal space — and the wine selection is just as catered to customer’s tastes.
There is a weekly rotating selection of 10 to 12 bottles for tasting, completely depending on what wines Gonya deems suitable and worthy of her regular customers. A longtime wine enthusiast, Gonya regularly researches and attends wine tasting events and meetups to refine her palate. Deaf Monty’s typically carries drier varieties, as it’s generally what her customers prefer.
“My process, it’s a matter of trying different things and putting myself in the shoes of my most regular, loyal customers here because I kind of know what they like to drink,” Gonya said. I have a customer named Pam who works for Dayton Children’s and she loves dry, white wines. So when I taste a dry, white wine that I feel is of good quality, likely I’m going to get three bottles of that in because I know Pam is really going to want to try that.”
Deaf Monty’s began as a way to utilize the entire B&B space, but since opening has turned into a neighborhood cornerstone.
“If you’re drinking a can of soda or a Bud Light, there’s not much of a story to it. ... Wine — you experience it on a number of different levels. There’s taste, but there’s also a story behind every wine.”
Deaf Monty’s is located at 22 Brown St. in Dayton.