Gem City Catfé owner plans to renovate, reuse next-door property

The Gem City Catfé brought felines, coffee and other treats to East Fifth Street in the St. Anne's Hill area.

Now, the owner is working to bring more destination businesses to adjacent property including a new art supply store to try to continue the revitalization of the growing commercial corridor.

“We want something that is usable by the people in the neighborhood as well as something that brings more people downtown and specifically from downtown and the Oregon District area,” said Karin Gudal, the owner of the Gem City Catfé.

The Hue House will fill a void in the greater downtown Dayton market by selling fine art materials and studio supplies, said Dana Vingris, who is opening the business with her husband, Ryan.

“There’s something in Centerville and online sales, but there isn’t anything in the downtown retail market where a lot of artist studios are,” she said.

“The art store seems to fit with the culture and the businesses here in the neighborhood,” she said.

MORE: Cheers! Mimosa, wine and cats combining forces at Gem City Catfé

The Gem City Catfé opened at 1513 E. Fifth St. on Jan. 2, 2018.

The espresso, wine and coffee bar — which has a separate cat lounge, full of adoptable rescue cats — has been a popular draw and continued the momentum in the area started by Fifth Street Brewpub, which opened down the street at 1600 E. Fifth St. in 2013.

The brewpub got the ball rolling. The catfé built on that success.

About 14 months after the catfé opened its doors, St. Anne the Tart, a bakery and café, moved into a space across the street at 1500 E. Fifth St.

More businesses could be on the way to the commercial corridor.

The owner of a once residential property at 1619 E. Fifth St. proposes opening a new wine bar and delicatessen, according to a city of Dayton documents.

And Gudal is working to to renovate property next door to the catfé at 1509-1511 E. Third St. for commercial uses.

Here’s how you can visit the cats at Gem City Catfé

The 1509 property, which originally was residential, is a two-story wood building, while 1511 is a one-story brick structure.

Dana and Ryan Vingris plan to open an art supply store in the 1509 space.

Dana Vingris, 36, owned an art supply store in downtown Toledo, but she and her husband moved to St. Anne's Hill more than two years ago.

Vingris believes her shop is a good fit for St. Anne’s Hill, which she says has food and drink options but no retail offerings.

St. Anne’s is developing a small business district that has enough amenities to attract significant numbers of visitors, but also it gets a lot of drive-by and foot traffic, and the neighborhood strongly supports its shops, Vingris said.

Development is quickly spreading in the Oregon District and along Wayne Avenue and East Fifth Street areas, and Vingris said she sees opportunities for local small businesses to move in. She wants to be part of the revitalization.

Vingris said Dayton has many artists, and St. Anne’s is close to many schools, the University of Dayton, Sinclair College and the artist studios on Front Street and Linden Street.

Vingris plans to offer classes at the store, which she hopes to open in mid-summer 2020. The building still needs a considerable amount of work.

Gudal has a request pending before the Landmarks Commission related to changes she wants to make to the 1509 building’s exterior.

Gudal already has received landmarks’ approval to remove a brick facade addition on the 1511 property. Gudal plans to restore the building to a glass and wood storefront, more in keeping with other properties along Fifth Street.

Gudal said the property would be ideal for a cocktail bar or something similar, which would complement and not compete with what’s already in the area.

Gudal said Fifth Street Brewpub has food and beer. She said a new business that just serves cocktails and wine would be a great fit for the area and the space, which is a big, open room with high ceilings.

“We’ve had multiple people approach us about putting that in the space,” she said.

MORE: East Fifth Street is transforming. But vandals aren’t helping.

Since opening, the Gem City Catfé’s business has steadily increased and it has adopted more than 350 felines and has started a trap, neuter, release program, Gudal said.

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