Dayton brewpub’s touching story of community support featured in PBS project

What does it mean to be an American?

PBS is stitching together an answer to that question with its biggest initiative yet: “PBS American Portrait.” The public has been asked to participate in this massive national storytelling initiative, which seeks to define what it means to be an American today. The coronavirus pandemic made the project all the more relevant.

>>> Read more: Keep a coronavirus diary to help Wright State's archives document the pandemic

PBS asked America: "How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you?" Dayton's own Fifth Street Brewpub answered the call. This week, PBS American Portrait tweeted the pub's touching story of resilience to the world.

“Six months ago, if you asked me where the business would be, I would have never expected that we’d be in the situation we’re currently in,” Stephen Haynes, assistant manager of Fifth Street Brewpub says in the video. The shot pans to an unusual scene at the normally bustling neighborhood restaurant and brewery: an empty dining room with chairs stacked on top of each other.

“I never expected to see business deteriorate like this, in such a quick manner. But I also didn’t expect for the community to come together like they’ve done for us in such a strong showing,” Haynes continues as he rings in carryout orders. “Every day I’m having the same people come in here — buying beer, buying food, some people buying gift cards — just to show that they support us, and they want us to still be around.”

>>>  Read more: Many Dayton-area residents still supporting local restaurants

In a stirring moment, the camera pans to the “Building a Community” wall inside the pub, where the handprints of Daytonians who helped create the co-op are enshrined in multi-color paint. Residents of the St. Anne’s Hill Historic District came together a decade ago to restore the building, which led to the opening of the cooperatively owned microbrewery in 2012.

“I have people who just come in personally to check on us and ask about employees here,” Haynes says.

In any neighborhood, particularly ones on the rebound, a gathering spot can be crucial for a sense of place and belonging. Fifth Street Brewpub has provided just that to the charming historic district, so it’s not too surprising that neighbors are continuing to support the pub. “We’re their dining room table,” the pub’s manager, Tanya Brock, said.

>>  Read more: Oregon District shop needs help to stay afloat during pandemic

"I hope the incredible support and the power of community continues after all this is over," Brock said in an additional video on the American Portrait website here. To contribute to this collective portrait of America, visit

Fifth Street Brewpub continues to serve the Dayton community with new limited hours for carryout orders, which includes a curbside drop-off option. The pub is located at 1600 E. Fifth St. and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Call (937) 443-0919 to place an order.

Credit: Fifth Street Brewpub

Credit: Fifth Street Brewpub

Stories of Hope

We all need inspiration in these difficult times. And as always, this community delivers. We are sharing these stories of hope in action, every day in the Dayton Daily News.

About the Author