A new breakfast and lunch spot in Dayton will give diners a chance to step back in time to early 20th century Dayton, but with a modern twist.
A reimagined Culp’s Café has opened in a new site at Carillon Historical Park with an expanded menu and hours.
Inside costumed servers make classic and Salted Caramel Milkshakes, ice cream sodas and root beer floats behind a 40-foot-long marble soda fountain.
Phosphate sodas — a classic tangy beverage — come in rainbow colors and lime, cherry, blueberry and chocolate flavors.
In a nod to contemporary tastes, cold brew coffee is poured over vanilla ice cream for a Cold Brew Float.
The restaurant is set in the early 1900s during a time in Dayton’s history when the city experienced an explosion of invention and energy.
It is designed to be fun and cheerful for visitors, said Brady Kress, president and CEO of Dayton History.
“I want them to get a sense with the costumes and furnishings of what that time period was like,” Kress said. “Living in Dayton in the first part of the 20th century was extremely exciting.”
The décor — including the server’s costumes, cast iron marble tables, light fixtures and windows — were inspired by photographs of Dayton found in the NCR archives.
The park took “some fun liberties” and built the restaurant around a restored 1903 Barney & Smith interurban car where diners can eat inside.
Charlotte Gilbert Culp, a widow who began selling baked good in 1902 to support her six children, is the café’s namesake.
The family opened a stand at the South Main Street market and eventually expanded into the Arcade where they specialized in home-cooked food, pies and pastries.
Among the new breakfast items served all day at the café are Belgian Waffles, blueberry pancakes and Chicken and Waffles served with blueberry butter and Cajun spiced syrup.
The Culp’s Café Platter is a mix of breakfast potatoes, ham, cheddar cheese, red and green peppers, onions and mushrooms topped with two eggs and homemade sausage gravy.
A selection of soups, salads and sandwiches is also on the menu including a club sandwich, tuna melt, the Culp’s Burger and the Culp’s Chicken Salad Sandwich using the original Rike’s pecan chicken salad recipe.
A pastry chef has been hired to make pies, scones and other baked goods including Mrs. Culp’s recipe, Culp’s Cake, a decadent chocolate dessert.
Visitors can also make a toast to Dayton’s history with a drink from the cocktail menu. A sampling includes Bellinis, Bloody Marys, Irish Coffee and Spiked Hot Cocoa.
Culp’s Café, 1000 Carillon Blvd., is open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is located in the new $10 million Winsupply Center for Leadership at the entrance to park and does not require admission.
About the Author