SEA CHANGE: New restaurants to bring more choices for Dayton-area seafood lovers

One large new seafood restaurant opened a few weeks ago in a high-profile location, and two more restaurants that focus on the fruits of the sea are gearing up to serve their first customers in the coming months in the Dayton area.

While not a tidal wave, the new restaurants represent a surge that will bring new choices for the Miami Valley’s seafood enthusiasts.

>> ALSO NEW TODAY: REVIVED: New bar opens in Kettering space that has been vacant for more than 3 years

Club Oceano Seafood & Bar at The Greene Town Center is the newest entry on the local fine-dining seafood scene, joining locally owned seafood stalwarts Jay's Restaurant in Dayton's Oregon District, Sweeney's Seafood Bar & Grill in downtown Centerville, and The Dock Food & Spirits in Enon, as well as chain restaurants Bonefish Grill near the  Dayton Mall and five Red Lobster locations in the Miami Valley, among more formal, full-service seafood restaurants in the region.

>> ON THE MENU: Locally owned Club Oceano gets off to a strong start at The Greene

Credit: Mark Fisher

Credit: Mark Fisher

In addition, Neighborhood Fish & More, with a spacious dining room in addition to a fresh-seafood counter, opened in April 2019 on North Union Road in the Meadowbrook Crossing retail center in Clayton.

>> New seafood market and restaurant now open in Clayton (April 2019)

Club Oceano’s founders are Raymond Chow, Sam Zheng and Brian Andzik. Chow and Zheng are co-founders of Sky Asian Cuisine, an Asian restaurant in Kettering. Andzik has served for 28 years as chairman and organizer of the Italian Fall Festa.

>> SNEAK PEEK: Inside the new, locally owned seafood restaurant now open at The Greene 

The two coming-soon seafood restaurants are in Dayton's south suburbs, a couple of miles apart in Miami Twp. Hook & Reel Cajun Seafood & Bar is in the works in the former Sears Auto & Tire Center in front of the Dayton Mall. The other is Blue Crab Juicy Seafood, which is coming to the space at 8901 Kingsridge Drive that previously housed Osaka Sushi & Hibachi, which shut down in 2016. The space also previously housed Hazel Grille & Tavern, and it was once the home of Max & Erma's, before the chain closed that location in 2009.

>> Daytonian of the Week: Amy Haverstick, owner of Jay’s Restaurant (April 2016)

The Dayton Mall Hook & Reel will be the second restaurant tenant in the former Sears auto space. Outback Steakhouse opened earlier this year in the larger of the two tenant spaces, facing Ohio 725. Hook & Reel is located behind Outback, and its entrance will face the mall.

Hook &  Reel’s plans call for a 6,888-square-foot restaurant that would seat about 200 and employ 40 to 50, a Hook & Reel spokeswoman told this news outlet in June.

>> New ‘Hook & Reel’ Cajun seafood restaurant promises ‘energetic,’ ‘authentic’ New Orleans experience (June 2019)

Reached again this week, the spokeswoman said the Dayton area’s first Hook & Reel “is still months away from opening.” The current projected opening is January, she said. Earlier estimates suggested the restaurant could open as early as November.

Workers were busy at the site this week, and the windows are covered with Hook & Reel banners, and dotted with building permits.

>> The top restaurants for seafood in Dayton, according to BEST OF DAYTON 2018 

“At Hook & Reel, we celebrate the vibrant and flavorful cuisine of Louisiana by pairing the freshest seafood with authentic Cajun seasonings, fresh garlic, and zesty lemon,” the restaurant chain’s spokeswoman said in June. “From the flavors and aromas to the energetic atmosphere, we provide an authentic experience that transports you straight to New Orleans.”

>> Sweeney’s Seafood Bar & Grill celebrates 25th anniversary 

The Blue Crab Juicy Seafood restaurant on Kingsridge behind the Dayton Mall still has a colorful and highly visible "Coming Soon" banner that went up immediately after a lease was signed in early April.

Credit: Mark Fisher

Credit: Mark Fisher

There had been little activity at the space over the spring and summer, but Alex Wei, who oversees Blue Crab Juicy Seafood restaurants, told this news outlet via email in August that he was busy this summer getting another Blue Crab Juicy Seafood, in Indianapolis, up and running. That restaurant opened Aug. 10.

>> New 'Juicy Blue Crab' seafood restaurant coming to former Max & Erma's behind Dayton Mall

Wei said at the time, “We will be in Dayton soon.”

There has been little activity inside the restaurant last week and this week, but a company did repair and resurface the restaurant’s parking lot this week. Efforts to reach Wei in recent days have been unsuccessful.

The growing restaurant chain has or will have locations in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio. A menu posted on the Indianapolis restaurant’s Facebook page shows a Cajun-inspired menu with multiple boiled or fried seafood options, including crab, shrimp, crawfish, mussels, oysters and catfish.

About the Author