STEAK, CAKE & CHAMPAGNE: Local supper club celebrates 40th anniversary this weekend

Brian Hull said he still encounters some potential customers who are under the mistaken impression that because his restaurant’s name includes the term “supper club,” it’s open only to members.

But this is one club that is open to all, as it has been since it first opened its doors in August of 1978.

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This weekend and early next week, the Paragon Supper Club  at 797 Miamisburg-Centerville Road (Ohio 725) in Washington Twp. will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a special complimentary Champagne-and-Cake after-dinner offer and special deals on the restaurant's extensive wine list, according to Hull, the restaurant's wine director. The specials will be offered beginning Friday, Aug. 24, and will continue through Tuesday night, Aug. 28. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.

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The iconic restaurant keeps a comparatively low profile on the local restaurant scene, hosting few special events and doing little marketing beyond word-of-mouth. But Hull, who also helps to manage the restaurant, said Paragon’s focus on consistency, quality and cleanliness has been a recipe for continued success as it is poised to enter its fifth decade in an intensely competitive business.

That “consistency” part of its recipe is on full display in its 43 employees, who together have more than 500 years of experience working at the Paragon Supper Club, and more than 800 years of combine experience in the restaurant industry. And it is still owned by one of its original co-founders, John Koverman, whose daughter Ann Hansen serves as general manager.

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At the Paragon, if the pies and salad dressings taste exactly as they did 40 years ago, that’s because the same employee has been making those items since the restaurant opened its doors on day one, Hull said. One of the Paragon’s servers has 33 years experience, and is now waiting on multiple generations of the same family. A bartender with 23 years of experience knows her customers so well she can start mixing their first cocktail when she sees them walk in the door.

That consistency has created a fiercely loyal clientele. About 60 percent of the Paragon’s business comes from regulars, Hull said.

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The restaurant’s menu has also remained remarkably consistent, as have the recipes, Hull said. An array of steaks (including a 16-ounce bone-in filet) and chops are the stars of the menu, along with seafood offerings such as rainbow trout and broiled salmon. “Signature entrees” include chicken or veal Oscar, Stroganoff and Prime Rib. Yes, there are those classic Dayton steakhouse sides, fried onion rings and stewed tomatoes.

Comparisons with the Pine Club in Dayton, which opened in 1947, are inevitable, both in the menu and the tradition. And there is a link in the Paragon’s lineage: one of Koverman’s two co-founders, Don Berg, had been a manager at the Pine Club in the 1970s prior to helping to launch Paragon. He died in a car crash shortly after the restaurant’s opening, however, and Koverman ultimately assumed sole ownership of the restaurant.

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Koverman, how 86, doesn’t hover in the restaurant, but he does dine there once a month or so, Hull said.

“But I talk to him nightly,” the wine director and manager said. “For him to be that active is incredible.”

Hull is working toward adding a handful of special events in the coming months, including a “murder mystery” dinner night and perhaps a wine-focused event, most likely on a Monday night when the restaurant would normally be closed.

But that’s about as much change as diners can expect out of the Paragon, Hull acknowledged. And that seems to be just fine with the Paragon’s customers.

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