BEST OF DAYTON: Blue Berry Cafe rules breakfast and brunch in Bellbrook

ajc.com

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That’s certainly true at the Blue Berry Café in Bellbrook.

Known for its massive pancakes and portions, delicious home-made omelets and the infamous “Muffin Man,” Tony Darden, the Blue Berry Café has earned first-place honors in Best Breakfast and Best Brunch in this year’s Best of Dayton.

Visitors to the popular spot just off the main drag in downtown Bellbrook will find at first what appears to be a rather unassuming café in a small strip mall. But co-owner Kelley Andary said the restaurant has definitely changed, especially over the past two years. As it was for all other businesses, Andary said the forced shutdown of their dining room in March of 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns came as a surprise for the staff and owners who had mostly relied on dine-in guests for their revenue.

“We scrambled to figure out a game plan,” Andary said. “And we decided to be open from 8 a.m. to noon daily for carryout orders.”

Andary and her uncle and co-owner, Ray Jean, also decided to offer free hot breakfasts for kids through August of 2020, because they knew all the school programs were coming to a halt.

After remodeling the dining room and expanding in 2019, Andary and her staff decided to turn their new lobby into a temporary food pantry and asked customers for donations to support this effort.

“We want to give back to the community however we can,” Andary said.

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Tony Darden, also known as the Muffin Man, is an honorary co-owner of the Blue Berry Cafe in Bellbrook. He bakes up gourmet muffins in different varieties and delights customers daily.

Tony Darden, also known as the Muffin Man, is an honorary co-owner of the Blue Berry Cafe in Bellbrook. He bakes up gourmet muffins in different varieties and delights customers daily.

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Tony Darden, also known as the Muffin Man, is an honorary co-owner of the Blue Berry Cafe in Bellbrook. He bakes up gourmet muffins in different varieties and delights customers daily.

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Kelly Andary (front row right of center in blue tie die shirt) and her staff at the Blue Berry Cafe in Bellbrook have weathered the past two years by focusing on giving back to the community, including offering free hot meals for kids during the shutdown and beyond, turning their lobby into a food pantry, and making almost everything on their menu available for carryout.

Kelly Andary (front row right of center in blue tie die shirt) and her staff at the Blue Berry Cafe in Bellbrook have weathered the past two years by focusing on giving back to the community, including offering free hot meals for kids during the shutdown and beyond, turning their lobby into a food pantry, and making almost everything on their menu available for carryout.

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Kelly Andary (front row right of center in blue tie die shirt) and her staff at the Blue Berry Cafe in Bellbrook have weathered the past two years by focusing on giving back to the community, including offering free hot meals for kids during the shutdown and beyond, turning their lobby into a food pantry, and making almost everything on their menu available for carryout.

And that includes the staff, whichtemporarily lost paychecks during the shutdown. The Blue Berry Café gave 50% of its revenue from gift certificate sales to the team.

But the biggest reason people voted The Blue Berry Café as their favorite place for breakfast and brunch in Dayton is the food. From the quiche of the day to special seasonal pancakes and French toast to omelets stuffed with fresh ingredients, everything is made from scratch in the kitchen.

Another big draw is honorary co-owner Darden, who whips up his famous gourmet-style muffins daily and brings them out on trays fresh from the oven to waiting customers. Far from the ordinary muffin, and never on the menu, the surprise flavors of the day range from Pineapple Upside Down to Nutella Crunch, to Red Velvet. Darden’s Muffin Man schtick as he introduces the latest flavor, is worth the visit in itself.

The Blue Berry Café also serves lunch items like sandwiches, including favorites like Avocado Toast, a grilled stacked high club sandwich and burgers. Mimosas and other adult beverages are also on the menu. A call ahead wait list is offered and is highly encouraged during busy weekend times.

“Since April of 2020 we have focused on breakfast and brunch and completely omitted the salad station,” Andary said. “This has made the kitchen run more efficiently and customer don’t seem to mind at all.”


The Blue Berry Café

First Place: Best Breakfast

First Place: Best Brunch

72 Bellbrook Plaza, Bellbrook

937-848-5900

facebook.com/TheBlueberryCafe

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