Owner of downtown's last 'dive bar' said she was forced out

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Bingers had been open about 30 years. Video by Amelia Robinson

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The owner of what was one of downtown Dayton's very last neighborhood dive bars says she was forced out of business because her bar did not fit the right image or attract the right clientele.

"I think part of (it) was an effort to get black people out of downtown Dayton," Bingers' owner Janet Yeazel, said. "Our customers, they are either retirees or they are working people. They (the new developers) are wanting to appeal to millennials. They told us that."

Yeazel is white, but says most of her customers were black.

Bingers Bar vacated 142 E. Third St. in downtown Dayton on Oct. 31.

Austin Sprenkel of The Ellway Group, the developer of the Fire Block District which includes the building that housed Bingers Bar, said Yeazel's statements regarding race and age are simply not true.

"We want a nice mix of ages, groups and ethnicities and people of different fields," he said.

Bingers Bar has closed
Caption
Bingers Bar has closed

Yeazel bought Bingers six years ago. The bar had been at the location just shy of 30 years.

Before that, Yeazel said the location housed a bar called Engel's for many years.

>> EARLIER: Developer says bar patrons' 'nonsense' the reason downtown bar forced to close
Sprenkel has said Yeazel was asked to move her bar due to ongoing problems with and complaints about the bar's customers, but he said not all Bingers customers caused problems.

"The majority of the people in there (Bingers) were really cool," Sprenkel said.

Yeazel, an Englewood resident who works in the insurance industry, denied there ever being any significant issues in Bingers or with its customers.

Earlier this month, Dayton police spokeswoman Cara Zinski Neace told this news agency that eight reports in the last two years have listed Bingers' address.

Five of those reports were linked to the bar. They included a fight, an overdose, and three disorderly conduct complaints.

Yeazel attributes the issues Sprenkel brought up to homeless people who frequent the area. She said her customers actually saved the life of the woman who overdosed. That woman was not a regular customer.

"We had security at night and we didn’t have any problems at night," said. "They (The Ellway Group) didn’t like what they saw, so they decided they were going to shut us down."

The building that housed Bingers is owned by Frederick Gagel, but the Ellway Group controls it and plans to buy it.

In 2015, The Ellway Group owners Elliot Katz and Winfield “Scott” Gibson began working to redevelop the collection of buildings in the district, which is bordered by Second Street, St. Clair Street, Fourth Street and Jefferson Street.

>> PHOTOS: A look inside downtown Dayton's Fire Block District building

The Ellway Group's plans include roughly 75 housing units in the Huffman block building, ground floor retail space, an upscale restaurant operated by The Idea Collective of Oklahoma City near Century Bar’s planned speakeasy, office space, and a penthouse level clubhouse for residents with a patio overlooking the city.

>> MORE: Investors intend to renew Fire Block District in Dayton

Gibson said the space at 117 E. Third St. will be rented as a "DIY spot" for band performances, art shows and other events in the short term.

Sprenkel has said The Ellway Group hopes to replace Bingers with "a neighborhood bar" with reasonably priced beverages.

Yeazel said Bingers was a neighborhood bar.

She was a Bingers customers before deciding to buy it.

"Bingers was like a little neighborhood bar," Yeazel said. "Our regulars protected the place and they called it their 'Cheers.'"

She looked at other spaces to move the bar, but could not find a location downtown that fit her budget.

About the Author

ajc.com