The team behind Jollity working to perfect their own recipe for success

Two of the cofounders of Jollity, Brendon Miller (far left) and Zackary Weiner (second from left) enjoy creating new menus for a different take on “meat and potatoes.” They are shown with friends Jonathon Mezera and Andy Bagherian, who have helped them cook during their pop-ups. CONTRIBUTED
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Two of the cofounders of Jollity, Brendon Miller (far left) and Zackary Weiner (second from left) enjoy creating new menus for a different take on “meat and potatoes.” They are shown with friends Jonathon Mezera and Andy Bagherian, who have helped them cook during their pop-ups. CONTRIBUTED

Over the past several years, a new Dayton restaurant opening soon, Jollity, has been slowly building momentum. Without an actual completed building to call home yet, the team at Jollity has been making a name for itself through pop-up events all around the Miami Valley.

Zackary Weiner, Brendon Miller and Nathan Heil, all of Dayton, attended the Miami Valley Career Technology Center (MVCTC), though at different times, and each has always had an interest in food.

“We were familiar with each other through the school,” Weiner said. “We met up later and started hanging out and talking about things in Dayton that we wanted to see change.”

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While Weiner, Miller and Heil were each working at different restaurants and loved their jobs, when they started talking, a natural collaboration was formed. Jollity, coming to Dayton’s Fire Blocks District, will be a full-service restaurant featuring simple food, served and as the name says — with cheerfulness and fun.

Andy Bagherian and his long time friend and cofounder of Jollity, Zackary Weiner work together often during the many Jollity pop-up events. Here they are plating a main course prior to serving to customers. CONTRIBUTED
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Andy Bagherian and his long time friend and cofounder of Jollity, Zackary Weiner work together often during the many Jollity pop-up events. Here they are plating a main course prior to serving to customers. CONTRIBUTED

“I have only ever worked in the restaurant industry,” Weiner said. “I went to Midwest Culinary Institute and then moved back to Dayton and worked at several places.”

Weiner said he started cooking at home as a teenager and went to CTC for their culinary arts program. It was there he met Marion Scarizzo, a now-retired teacher who ended up mentoring him along with Miller and Heil.

“I was fortunate to work at Rue Dumaine, Olive: An Urban Dive and C’est Tout,” Weiner said. “Brendon and Nathan also worked at some great Dayton restaurants like Roost and Meadowlark.”

Miller graduated from Johnson & Wells University in Charlotte and became an executive chef at the Dublin Pub. He lived in Michigan and Colorado before returning to Dayton four years ago. Heil ended up working with Miller at a country club, then his life took a bit of different turn.

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“I left to become a pastor and missionary,” Heil said. “I traveled to Puerto Rico and then to Trinidad and then came home to Dayton.”

When the trio was recruited to judge a few competitions at MVCTC, and they realized how much they had in common and how their different backgrounds could come together to create a unique restaurant.

“I love dealing with people,” said Miller, who now serves as the executive chef a Jollity. “Since the three of us got together, we had said we wanted to educate our customers and whatever we put on the plates we do research and add our own flair.”

That’s one reason Jollity’s special pop-up events, done in collaboration with existing restaurants, have remained popular and generally sell out. Beginning with their first in Arcanum in 2014 to their latest pop-up collaborations with Meadowlark on Oct. 11 and Toxic Dayton on Oct. 17, Jollity and its three “foodie” co-founders have been making a name for themselves.

“We always ask about any complaints even though we get a ton of compliments on our food,” Miller said. “We need to know what customers like and don’t like and how to make what they will like and remember.”

With menu items like brisket biscuits, buckwheat crepes, Beet & Sweet latke and a miso polenta bowl, Jollity is most definitely turning out memorable dishes that people enjoy. They have also hosted casual popups featuring their own take on sandwiches like grilled cheese and country ham.

“We go to different cities constantly and eat at different restaurants,” Weiner, who is also a chef for Jollity, said. “We are passionate about what we do, and we love that everywhere we go, there are newer and different types of food being served.”

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Weary of local restaurants that seemed to be putting out the same food, Weiner said they devoted themselves to staying “ahead of the curve” and being a bit more progressive and forward-thinking.

“We understand that Dayton is very much a meat and potatoes town,” he said. “We want a chance to change the perception of what that can be.”

Heil will continue to deal with customers as the front of the house manager after Jollity opens its physical restaurant sometime next year. And many of the trio’s closest friends have helped them with the pop-ups and will continue to work with them once Jollity opens its more permanent doors.

Zackary Weiner, Nathan Heil and Brendon Miller are cofounders of Jollity, a new restaurant opening in downtown Dayton next year. They are shown with several of their friends, who have helped them with the many pop-ups they have hosted in the area since 2014. Top row (from left) Nathan Heil and Brendon Miller. Front row (from left) – Thomas Weiner, Andy Bagherian, Jonathan Mazerra, Zackary Weiner, Brittany Hacket, Crystal Coppock. CONTRIBUTED
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Zackary Weiner, Nathan Heil and Brendon Miller are cofounders of Jollity, a new restaurant opening in downtown Dayton next year. They are shown with several of their friends, who have helped them with the many pop-ups they have hosted in the area since 2014. Top row (from left) Nathan Heil and Brendon Miller. Front row (from left) – Thomas Weiner, Andy Bagherian, Jonathan Mazerra, Zackary Weiner, Brittany Hacket, Crystal Coppock. CONTRIBUTED

“We practice a lot,” Weiner said. “We revise, practice, taste and revise and let my wife and kids be our critics.”

Jollity, which will be open at 127 E. Third Street downtown, is now taking shape. Meanwhile Weiner, Heil and Miller will continue hosting pop-ups every few weeks with set menus.

“We are really excited,” Weiner said. “This has been a long time coming and a bunch of work and stress has gone into it, but we are really looking forward to being able to give people the highest level of hospitality and the best food that we can.”

For more information about upcoming Jollity popups, check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

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