Dayton’s most iconic restaurants influenced by late designer



The story of the construction and then expansion of the Dublin Pub in the Oregon District is one of great vision, big dreams and some serious creativity. It’s also just one restaurant of many that benefited from the talents of Mark Andrew Shannon.

Shannon, who passed away after an extended illness on Dec. 20 last year, has influenced the look and construction of some of Dayton’s most popular dining establishments.

On Jan. 28, a group of Shannon’s friends got together for a bus tour of some of his greatest hits and to toast him — one of his last wishes that he shared before he passed.

Dublin Pub owner Steve Tieber says his restaurant would not be what it is today without Shannon’s influence and work.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

“You could go into a room with Mark and he could see the room for what it should be,” said Tieber. “Mark was an artist — everything he did had meaning behind it. He was always so low key and under the radar and people don’t understand what he actually did for the community.”

The story of the historic church addition on the Dublin Pub in 2013 which added 2,200 sq. ft. of interior and patio space was constructed from mostly reclaimed historic material from nearly 20 separate structures including The Huffman School, The Stockyards, several 1850′s residences and a downtown office building. With the help of James Kent and Jeff Wysong, a 108 year old church was salvaged from demolition, and stored for a year-and-a-half until the church could be rebuilt as part of the new addition.

Shannon, who originally built The Dublin Pub, and who Tieber says was “the greatest contractor ever” teamed up with Tieber, designers Mitch Perry and Mitch Powers, and the technical expertise of Architect Doug Fisher to create a master plan. The end result was a new addition composed of recycled and salvaged wood dating from 150 to 500 years that looked like you had gone back in time to a historic pub in Ireland.

Credit: Mark Fisher

Credit: Mark Fisher

“He liked ambiance. He liked to create a feeling and a mood,” said Tieber.

One of Shannon’s many secret weapons was finding great artists, creators and collaborators to help design and create lux, exotic finishes. He also found many signature pieces at antique stores like Wooden Nickel Antiques in Cincinnati where Shannon salvaged the massive chandelier crowning the room in the Dublin Pub’s church addition.

In 1997 Shannon helped do some of the original construction on El Meson connecting different buildings to do a major expansion from a small pizza parlor called The Pizza Queen. It helped establish the look and style of a small Spanish village and was an enormous catalyst of change as the restaurant continued to evolve and establish itself over the following decades.

Credit: The Wandering Griffin

Credit: The Wandering Griffin

The list of businesses, restaurants and homes that Shannon put his mark on by designing and building is long and impressive. In addition to more than 30 residences, he was involved in the construction and design of Newcom’s Tavern, Southern Belle, Basil’s in Troy, Cafe Boulevard (now Lily’s), The Wandering Griffin, Franco’s addition, Jimmie’s Ladder 11, Jimmie’s Greenhouse and Bargo’s and, of course, The Dublin Pub.

His friends all shared he was a passionate and curious world traveler having taken many international trips to exotic places like India, Brazil, countries all over South America, Australia, Europe.

As much as he loved travel he also loved people and knew no strangers. He loved to say, “laughter is the shortest distance between two people” and was known for his humor and his easy going affable laid back style.

His love for travel is on poignant display at Wandering Griffin in Beavercreek with beautiful maps and decor that evoke adventure and wanderlust. In the front bar Shannon hired an artist to burn a beautiful quote from Jonah Lehner around the edge: “We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.”

It’s that lovely, thoughtful attention to detail that is soaked into so many things that he touched. Both Tieber and Sue and Jimmie Brandell who own Jimmie’s Ladder 11 say he liked to put a mystery into everything that he built and had deep relevance to the vision and the project.

“We would not be where we are without Mark’s help,” said Jimmie.

“Same,” said Tieber. “We would never have had any of this if it wasn’t for Mark Shannon.”

In addition to the beautiful spaces he helps create, he also had an influence on local menus. Sue Brandell shares Shannon was responsible for bringing a taste of NOLA to Jimmie’s Ladder 11.

“Our travels there with Mark inspired several menu items: Jimmie’s gumbo, shrimp and grits, Creole cheesecake and po’ boy sandwiches,” said Sue who shares that this year’s Mardi Gras celebration at Jimmie’s Ladder 11 beginning Feb. 13 will feature a week of specials in honor of Mark.

Shannon’s unique design style can be seen in so many iconic places throughout the region that the list is far too long to share. There’s the baseball diamond shaped bar at Bargo’s that maximizes conversation and communication. The pillars from the Huffman Sewing Machine Factory in Riverside that greet you at the door as you walk through the Wandering Griffin and the entire entryway to a historic house hovering above the bar in the main dining room. The beautiful exposed wooden beams and horseshoe prints in the cement at the Southern Belle. The incredible carved portrait of Steve Tieber’s Father, Jay with Holy Trinity Church in Ireland over his shoulder and a glass of wine and his West Point ring in hand. The center draft system at Jimmie’s which replicates the Silsby horse drawn steam engine with a second tap created from an early 1900′s fire hydrant. The upstairs railings at Jimmie’s were constructed and designed from the original steam radiator pipes and existing fire pole.

He may be gone, but Shannon will continue to surround us — whether we know it or not — with the special places that he touched and the artistry that he brought to the projects that he brought to life.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and food adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? Email

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