Maria and Eric Walusis plan to open a new restaurant called Paradox in the downtown Fire Blocks District. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Upscale casual restaurant? Paradox plans Dayton opening.

A new upscale casual restaurant coming to the Fire Blocks District wants to be the go-to Dayton dining spot.

“We want people to say, ‘This is the most Dayton restaurant in Dayton,’” said Eric Walusis, who is in charge of strategy, branding and business operations for the new restaurant, called Paradox.

Paradox, located at 100 East Third St., derives its name from a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem.

But Paradox is fitting because the restaurant will bring contemporary touches to an old space and the food will be a mash-up of old and new, classic and modern, said Chef Maria Walusis.

The restaurant is going into the ground floor space of the Elks building, at the corner of East Third and South Jefferson streets, which has been vacant for many years.

In the 1990s, the space was used as the Unicorn restaurant and lounge. Before that, it was Simple Simon restaurant in the 1980s.

Eric and Maria Walusis say they have funding in place and have signed an operating agreement and other critical documents with the developer. They expect to sign a 10-year lease this week.

“From a business standpoint, it’s all a done deal,” Eric Walusis said.

Paradox could open by the end of this year, but the owners say they do not want to rush the project because the restaurant needs to be done right.

There’s already been progress to prepare the space. A sprinkler system has been installed, and walls have been removed as part of the white-boxing process.

Maria Walusis said the restaurant will have a menu unlike anything else in Dayton.

To be sure of that, she researched offerings at restaurants across the city and even scrapped a goat cheese croquette salad after learning two other places served it.

“I want our food to stand out,” she said. “I am trying very hard to have some dishes no one has seen anywhere.”

Eric and Maria Walusis created Watermark in Miamisburg.

Watermark has “fine food,” but Paradox will be more upscale, even though it still will be casual, they said.

“It’s not going to be stuffy, it’s not going to be so eclectic that you have to be under 25 to get it,” Eric Walusis said. “But it is going to be stylish.”

Paradox also will be about twice the size of Watermark. Paradox will have about 5,200 square feet and seat around 150 people.

Maria Walusis said Paradox will not be locked into a particular type of food. A paradox, by definition, combines contradictory features or qualities.

Maria Walusis says she likes making regional and new American food, including southern and southwestern dishes, but she also likes to offer French, Italian, Mediterranean and Thai dishes.

“I’ve always done very global food, meaning I cook from cuisines all over the world,” said Maria Walusis, who has two other culinary businesses.

Paradox will be open for lunch and dinner and will have specialty cocktails. Paradox plans to have a sidewalk patio.

Century Bar, Paradox’s neighbor to the south, is moving into a larger space one door down.

The current Century Bar space will become Paradox’s private dining area and part of its kitchen.

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