A new restaurant with a familiar name has just been announced for the Fire Blocks District.
The announcement comes at a pivotal time for the district as pre-leasing is set to begin for new apartments, and new and expanding commercial tenants are working to open their doors by year’s end.
Grist is a new restaurant planned for 111 E. Third St. in the Huffman Block building, the brainchild of Casey and Patrick VanVoorhis, who last year opened Grist Provisions at 521 Wayne Ave. in the Oregon District.
Grist, which will occupy about half of the 3,800-square-feet of ground floor space on Third Street, will have family-style service and dishes with a wide range of influences.
The remainder of the space will be used for a new Grist Marketplace, which will have retail and wholesale products, including the owner’s signature items like bread and pasta, as well as some new additions.
Grist joins a growing list of entrepreneurs and restaurateurs who are trying to bring new dining, drinking, food and entertainment options to what for years has been a sleepy area, centered around the 100 block of East Third Street.
Fire Blocks “is going to be a small version of OTR (Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati), of Short North (in Columbus),” said Eric VanZwieten, head of marketing and PR for Windsor Companies, the Columbus-based firm developing the district.
“It’s a true eco-system,” he added.
Casey VanVoorhis and her husband, Patrick, have a background in fine-dining as executive sous chefs in San Francisco and other affluent markets.
Casey VanVoorhis says they wanted to bring a high-caliber, communal-style restaurant to Dayton that serves platters that are meant to be shared.
She said shared platters allow diners to taste more of the menu and enhances the overall dining experience.
Grist likely will serve about 15 to 20 items that are rotated weekly, and dishes are expected to have a mix of cultural influences and flavor profiles, VanVoorhis said.
Grist, which will have a small bar, will have a rustic feel and decor and will be authentic and open, with a chef’s tasting counter that has 15 to 20 seats and a community-style table, VanVoorhis said.
“It’s going to be pretty unique,” she said. “We’re going to have an open kitchen … you’ll be able to see into the production space.”
The business has done well selling fresh-made pastas, focaccia bread and other items, which will be available at the new Grist Marketplace, as well as specialty desserts, sandwiches and bread made from a steam-injected oven, VanVoorhis said.
Grist plans to open next year.
Grist will help the Fire Blocks District become a vibrant and dynamic urban area full of housing, food and beverage offerings, offices and entertainment, said VanZwieten.
Multiple restaurants, bars and cafes are under construction in the district and should start opening by the end of the year, VanZwieten said.
He said the Century Bar’s new space next door to its current location will be finished soon.
Salt Block Biscuit Co., a new bakery and cafe that will specialize in country-style biscuits, will open soon at 115 E. Third St., VanZwieten said.
Two Social is moving into 123 E. Third St. and will offer axe throwing, giant pong, boccee ball and more adult games and alcoholic drinks. Two Social belongs to Kelsey Calderone and Nathan Omlor, the founders of Gem City Social Sports, a popular organizer of sports, games and social activities for adults.
Paradox, a new restaurant planned for 100 E. Third St., expects to open next year. VanZwieten said two other restaurants are close to finalizing a lease for space in the district, and so is a coffee shop.
Also, he said, the district’s new apartments are expected to open starting in January.
On Saturday, the Fire Blocks District is hosting a “leasing kickoff” in which visitors can tour the still-under-construction lofts and select what units they want.
Windsor Companies is creating 72 new apartment units in the Huffman Block building and 20 new units in the Elks building.
People have to RSVP online for Saturday’s event, which is when pre-leasing officially begins.
More than 170 people have signed up for the event. The exact opening date of the apartments is expected to be announced Saturday.