Iconic local restaurant to shut down after 41 years

A popular full-service restaurant that has operated under the same name and ownership for more than four decades is shutting its doors this weekend.

The Barnsider, which opened in February 1975 at 5202 N. Main St. in Harrison Twp., will close after dinner service Saturday night, May 14, co-owner Mary Seto Miller said this morning.

The restaurant has been a popular gathering spot and destination for prom dinners, rehearsal dinners, family gatherings and special events for decades, serving families and communities in north Dayton and in northern Montgomery County.

“I greatly appreciate the years of support the community has given to me,” Miller said.

The sale of the building and business was finalized this afternoon to an undisclosed new owner. That new owner’s plans for the property were not immediately available.

Miller, 76, said the sale will allow her to spend more time with her family and to focus on her other restaurants. Her mother, who was 101, died in February. Miller and members of her family also own three other restaurants in the area: the Wellington Grille in Beavercreek, Harrison’s in Tipp City, and the Blue Berry Cafe in Bellbrook.

Most of the 20 employees of the Barnsider have accepted positions at the three other family-owned restaurants, Miller said.

The restaurant, which does not serve lunch, opens at 4:30 p.m. today and Saturday.

Born in China, Miller moved to Hong Kong as a child, then emigrated with her family to Canada when she was 13. She attended community college in Michigan before finding a job in an Asian restaurant in suburban Cincinnati, where she learned the restaurant business from the bottom up, from bartending to the kitchen.

After settling in Dayton, Miller was poised to open a restaurant in Needmore Road north of Dayton when a partner — who was also going to be the chef — bailed out at the last minute. A series of events then led her to lease the space that would become her first restaurant. The Barnsider opened in 1975.

Miller's daughter, Kelley Seto Andary, worked at the Barnsider from 1993 to 2005 and wrote about the family's decision on Facebook today.

“I am a ball of emotions,” Andary said. “This building — these memories — I literally grew up in this place.

“I worked here since I was tall enough to stand on a step stool and hang up coats. I worked ALL the time — six or seven days a week. And, I loved being there!

“And the customers … We had the BEST customers in the world. I’ve seen multi-million dollar deals made over martinis and bone-in Prime Rib. I’ve seen first dates and marriage proposals over escargot and a bottle of wine. I’ve seen prom dates turned into rehearsal dinners turned into baby showers. How amazing is that???

“My family and I would like to thank you for being a part of our lives. The Barnsider was more than just a restaurant to many. We are looking forward to the time freedom this will give my mom and uncle and we are so thankful for the memories that we will forever have!”

>>> Related (March 2015): Restaurant owner loyal to the business

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