Big expansions planned for downtown restaurant celebrating 10th anniversary

A restaurant launched in Dayton a decade ago is planning to expand in more ways than one.

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Carmen's Deli, 40 N. Main St. in the Stratacache Tower (the former Kettering Tower), has expanded its entertainment offerings and is in talks to double its footprint into an adjacent space, said Michael Groomes, the business' bar and entertainment coordinator.

If things go as planned, the additional 1,500-square-foot space would be called the Bistro at Carmen’s and host special events like plays, spoken word sessions, monologues, international dining experiences and Afrobeat, Arabic and Latin nights.

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“We are going to bring in guest chefs,” Groomes said.

Immigrant stories will be shared at some of the events.

Groomes said there are far too many misconceptions about immigrants and people from other countries.

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“We want to do things here that give people a different  perspective than what they see on the news. There is a lot more to the culture,” he said. “We want people to not only come in here and be entertained, but we want them to learn something.”

Credit: Carmen's Deli Facebook

Credit: Carmen's Deli Facebook

The restaurant works with a list of local artists that includes DJ Scorpius Max, who recently hosted an event called “House Music, Munchies and Martinis.”

Groomes said talks have gone well with Stratacache Tower representatives.

If things go as planned, the bistro would open at the beginning of 2020, he said.

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The Deli portion of the business will undergo a renovation, and three beer taps will be added, Groomes added.

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

For now, events like the recent sold-out staging of  “For Colored Girls Live!” and soul food dinner will continue to be  held inside the deli session of the business.

DaytOn 1’s Monday night salsa and bachata classes will be held in the tower’s lobby for the next 90 days, Groomes said.

“We are bringing them into the lobby and will see how things go,” he said. “It is only going to bring more people here to see Stratacache (Tower).”

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Groomes said as many as 60 people have attended the nights.

“You dance with a lot of different people, which really gets into the spirit of what Latin dance is about,” Groomes said of the classes that build up to a month’s social.

The bar’s relaunched its happy hour earlier this year.

The happy hour will soon feature tapas.

Carmen’s will celebrate its 10th anniversary with its “Humpday Bash and Cookout,” from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 31.

Groomes, also a financial planner and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company instructor, met Carmen's owner Haitham Imam 25 years ago while both were students at Sinclair Community College.

The men were fast friends.

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Groomes said Imam has a welcoming personality, and the Carmen’s new concept fits that perfectly.

“He’s out there for everyone,” Groomes said of Imam, who was born in Jerusalem, Israel. “We want something different. Both of us like the idea of having a diverse bar.”

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