Robert Bernhard Jr. says there's a secret to the meat his family's stores have sold for 65 years.
And no, it doesn't involve rocket science or a magical formula.
"We cut it and we grind it," said Bernhard, a third generation butcher and grocer. "It is all made fresh, many times a week."
Bernhard says Dot's employees, some of whom have been at the store for 30 years, know the products the store sells and the customers it serves.
Stop in at Dot's any day of the week and you will see a well-oiled machine where workers call out numbers and custom fill orders for steaks, pork chops and other cuts of meats.
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The cold and hot deli counters pump out orders of Dot's trademark broasted chicken and the store's chicken salad.
"Our gourmet chicken salad is by far our most popular item in the cold deli," Bernhard says. "We use chicken breast. We boil them right here. We cook them in the store and we make it by hand."
A little background
Dot's has been focused on meat from the start.
Robert A. Bernhard Sr., the founder of Imperial Foodtown stores, opened Dot's on Patterson Road in 1951 as a butchery.
"Here we are 65 years later, and the emphasis is still on meat," Bernhard Jr. said.
The Bernhards have owned the business for all but 10 years of its history.
Imperial Foodtown stores were sold in 1974. The family reopened the stores at 2274 Patterson Road in Kettering and 118 W. Franklin St in Bellbrook as Dot's Markets in 1984. The Bellbrook store dates back to 1971.
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The family's history in the food business goes back to the 1940s.
An artistic rendition of Bernhard's, then a Dot Food Store private label market, is on the wall of the Patterson Road store.
Bernhard Jr. said his grandfather operated that store near what is now his Patterson Road location for a few years. That store was short-lived.
Adam Bernhard, the son of German immigrants, was driven out of business due to food rations during World War II.
Pull up a chair
The Kettering Dot's is not only a place to buy food. You can chow down there, too.
The Kettering store's restaurant, The Bullpen, was opened in 1964.
It sells broasted chicken, pork tenderloins, steak dinners, liver and onions, and other home-style favorites in addition to breakfast items.
Bernhard said Dot's is committed to providing great food and other products at a fair price. A premium is placed on serving the community.
"We cater to a lot of local hometown products," he said. "We have a lot of hometown rubs and seasonings that are hard to find."
He rattled off a list that included Mehaffies Pies, Brucken Foods, and the store's own Bad Mother Salsa.
"We've been through three generations of consumer and of employees here so it is a real standard in the neighbor," Bernhard said.